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Jonny Greenwood interviewed on The Master: “I can’t really write songs”

Jonny Greenwood interviewed on The Master: “I can’t really write songs”

Jonny Greenwood’s score for The Master has been released on NoneSuch Records. The Radiohead guitarist did a couple of interviews.

Talking to NPR Radio he said: “What I really enjoy about writing for orchestras is realizing that — and it’s kind of self-evident — but the fact that they are 48 individuals. It’s not, you know, a preset on a keyboard. It’s all these people who have opinions and who are making decisions about how to play.”

“I sometimes feel a bit embarrassed to play guitar,” Greenwood says. “There’s something — I don’t want to sound ungrateful — but there’s something very old-fashioned and traditional about it. You meet kids today whose grandparents were in punk bands. It’s very old and traditional, but then, so is an orchestra and so is a string section. … [It’s] is a contradiction going around in my head, and I can’t really resolve it.”

Listen to the full NPR interview.

Jonny also answered questions in the new December issue of UNCUT, wich featured a couple of ‘Star Questions’ from Matt Bellamy, Stephen Malkmus and Adam Buxton.

Matt Bellamy from Muse asked how Jonny got into writing soundtracks, and how it differs from writing pop songs. ‘As You can guess, I’m jealous of your new calling’.

Jonny: “It’s just a different way of collaborating with people – like being in a band with a director, and a bunch of images and stories – instead of drummers and bas players. It’s fun! Don’t be jealous. Plus, you and I would only ever get to see the most pampered side of the job. Composers who do it properly all the time aren’t treated too well – on many films they’re ranked way below, say, make-up, in order of importance, and not given much freedom to try things out. I was just offered a film because they had to ‘let go’ of their current composer and I think that happens a lot – in fact, I probably came close during the scoring of The Master. I kept adding jazz flute. Paul kept sending me pictures of Ron Burgundy.”

Stephan Malkmus asked if Jonny writes ‘rock’ songs as well asmodern classical meltdowns like There Will Be Blood.

Jonny: “I’m hamstrung by having no singing ability at all – so aside from a few guitar chord sequences I can’t really write songs. As for classical stuff, I find it pretty pleasurable at the moment working on paper – it’s a bit like film photography, because there’s this long delay between having the idea and seeing if it’s coming out right. Weeks of work and it all comes down to one afternoon’s performance, which is the first time you get to know what it sounds like.”

Adam Buxton asked if humour belongs in music.

Jonny: “It’s funny to get this question after one from Stephen Malkmus. His lyrics prove it does, and are some of the only ones I can quote by heart: “…tell me off in the hotel lobby, right in front of all the bell-boys, and the over-friendly concierge”. – how it’s sung, how it’s phrased, the melody… perfect.”

The December issue of UNCUT is in stores now. And so is the soundtrack of The Master.

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