Radiohead Drummer Selway Sings On New Solo Record

Radiohead drummer Philip Selway ventured into uncharted territory with the release his first solo album, “Familial.” Not only does he join band mates Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood with a solo project to his credit, but Selway also became a full-fledged singer on the record.

It was quite an arduous task, since he never did more than background vocals on a Radiohead record. To fill his drumming role, he tapped Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche for the album.

In a recent interview, Selway shared his enthusiasm for the record, his admiration for Kotche, and the familial bond within Radiohead.

Photo: AP Photo
Posing for a portrait in New York.

AP: What compelled you to put out a solo record?

Selway: I suppose going back about three or four years ago – that was the point where I actually really decided to make a record. I had little fragments of songs coming together in the years running up to that, and then it got to the point where, actually I could see a collection of songs emerging from it. Something that I actually felt had a particular character, which I suppose is me, in there. And stuff that wasn’t that appropriate to Radiohead, either.

AP: Is there a different kind of nervous anticipation with a solo record?

Selway: Yes. In a band, you share the responsibility, but with Familial, it’s my name on the record, so it’s my reputation on the line in a good way and a bad way – hopefully good.

AP: What was the motivation for this group of songs?

Selway: I suppose, consciously, with the Radiohead aspect of it, I thought, “Well, I’m going to do this outside Radiohead, so it’s something that I wouldn’t do in that context.” It had to be something that reflected the way that the songs were written. It was a very private process for me.

AP: What was the collaboration like between you and Kotche?

Selway: That was great actually. When I was writing the songs, I didn’t really hear drum parts in my head. I drummed on one song, which is the third song on the record called “A Simple Life.” So to actually meet Glenn – (an) amazing drummer, very versatile, very unique take on kit playing, and general percussion – and to see, there was something percussive in it that he brought out, added extra depth to it. It was fascinating. I sat there with my notebook getting ideas for future drumming of my own.

AP: Now that you got a taste of being a solo artist, is it something you want to pursue further?

Selway: At some point I’d like to make another record. I’m still writing material. … We are straight in the middle of recording Radiohead material, so I will be immersing myself in that as well.

AP: What is the chemistry like in Radiohead?

Selway: It is a very strong bond in there. It’s not like a group of friends. It’s not like a group of colleagues. It is much more akin to a sibling relationship where you have all these common experiences. … It dates right back to when we were all at school together. You’ve been through all those life changes together, effectively from being boys to toying with the idea of being adults, and sticking, actually, to being boys again.

AP: Tell me about the dynamic for getting along?

Selway: I think just as in families, you know each other on the whole, very well. I think that’s the same case here. Gauge each other, we do that quite intuitively, I think in that sense, even though you go through these quite intense periods together. There needs to be something intuitive at the base of it to make sense of those times and actually still maintain a true sense of what the band is.

Photo: AP Photo

AP: Will the next Radiohead album be a download like In Rainbows?

Selway: No idea. We got to finish it, then we will find out what’s appropriate to it, and what’s appropriate in the music industry at the time because that changes at the drop of a hat.