Let’s talk about the song itself. How did it come together ?

It came from my frustration after doing the Náttúra concert. I felt, wow, this all went really well, but it was just one more environmental event that wasn’t going to change anything. The aluminum factories were just going to stick their fingers in their ears for five minutes. I was touring, in hotel rooms, dressing rooms around the world, with a lot of spare time.

I had all the files from Volta on my computer. I was really excited by sort of tribal drums, and felt maybe if I had spent another year on Volta I would have gone further into that sort of stuff. I took Brian Chippendale’s drums for "Earth Intruders", which we actually didn’t use ; we used him mostly on "The Dull Flame of Desire". So I started editing that like crazy in the hotel rooms, and not in a 4/4 way, which a lot of beat editing is usually, but rather in clusters. But it didn’t have to fit to a grid or Logic or all these software programs that are all about the Lego. So I took Brian’s drums and made this new song out of his drums. I think the beat from "Náttúra" would be really hard to play live, even for Brian Chippendale. I mean, he does incredible things, I don’t mean it like that. But it sort of was harnessing his energy and taking it in more organic units than grid units.

Once I had that, I sang on top of it. I just sang it in one take. It’s just a celebration of nature and how unpredictable it is and you cannot control it and you just have to kind of like let it fall all over you and go with it.

How did Thom Yorke get involved ?

I’ve always been so against this kind of, like, send to someone and they sing and then they send. I was like, fuck that. Actually, this is the only song out of all of the collaborations I’ve done over all the years. But I was like what should I do ? They are going to build those aluminum factories oh my god and I am stuck in a hotel room in Singapore ! What can I do about this ?

So I emailed Thom Yorke. He was in another hotel somewhere, I think in Germany or something, and he just sang on top of that into his computer and emailed it back to me.

Then I was with Mark Bell, he was with me on tour, and he programmed these little things to support what I edited from Brian’s drums. Just put sort of like Photoshop on the bass drum, because it was all taken it out of context, what I edited. So like the bass drum, where the one is, needed accents, so he did very subtle stuff like that.

I think we all had a go at the bassline. I knew I wanted a huge, rude bassline. I tried a few and they were either too rude or I don’t know what. I wanted it to be the main thing. Then Thom Yorke tried a bassline, Mark Bell tried a bassline, everybody had a go. And then I was in London and I called my friend Matthew Herbert. I said, "I am in a hotel room and I need a bassline now ! They are going to build the aluminum factories ! Come quick !" [laughs] It was hilarious. He’s one of the funniest people I know. He just came with a suitcase of gadgets. He was like, "I feel like the bass doctor ! Emergency ! Save the planet !" Just then and there, with headphones and mini bar biscuits, he did a bassline on it. Then I had the song ready. And Mark "Spike" Stent mixed it for free.

Then I came to Iceland eight weeks ago and I was like OK, let’s put it out. But then I thought, let’s face it, it’s gonna get all this media attention. I can use it as a torch to put that light on the problems. But I can’t do that now. So that’s why I ended up going to this eight weeks of going out there and meeting all the job development centers in the countryside, reading every single suggestion of a seed company there ever has been in Iceland that I know of and meeting all the companies that are doing that anyway. I don’t want to take too much credit, there are a lot of people out there doing that anyway, but maybe what I did was more just bring them all together.

pitchforkmedia 10-22-08