Nigel Godrich Talks "From the Basement", Radiohead
"The whole point is to get people who are having their moment...and get a definitive record of what they're doing."

As previously reported, producer Nigel Godrich's "From the Basement"-- a sort-of television show that's on the Internet and thus has nothing to do with television at all-- will be available for download December 18 on (okay, almost nothing to do with TV) and iTunes. For a small fee viewers may scoop up the show, which presents live performances in intimate settings without all the bells and whistles that usually hamper these things. Thom Yorke, the White Stripes, and Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid all play the debut episode, and if the trailer's any indication, it looks pretty effing fantastic.

The follow-up episode (due in February) will showcase performances by Beck and Jamie Lidell, and Godrich has high hopes for the series. Taking time out from working on the new Radiohead record, Godrich told Pitchfork in a recent interview, "We've got a lot of people that I'd like to see on the show [that] we're talking to. [But] I don't want to mention their names. Obviously, I'm really interested to capture some really iconic, bigger names-- really the whole point is to get people who are having their moment, to try and get a definitive record of what they're doing."

"And also, I've got a lot of friends in smaller bands," continued Godrich, "and there's an element of trying to promote stuff that we think is good."

Indeed, Godrich first conceived of "From the Basement" as a means of authentically documenting the pulse of music being made today. "Beck and I [had] been watching Rock and Roll Circus, that Rolling Stones movie that they made after they'd been on tour...we were just saying how amazing it was to see such a snapshot of that time: You get to see them, warts and all...hanging out with John Lennon and Eric Clapton and all these people.

"[We were] just saying what a shame it was that there wasn't anything that really felt as honest as that anymore, at the moment."

Drawing further inspiration from British television music series "The Old Grey Whistle Test", Godrich soon landed upon the idea of a television program. But despite early reports, "From the Basement" will not appear on British television-- instead it will be available solely as an Internet download.

Explained Godrich, "They were quite prepared to put it out on TV if we would take a sponsor, like a mobile phone company or whatnot, and I was just like, 'No fucking way, that's just not the point at all.'

"The idea is to be independent-- to have no agenda, to the point that we don't have to present that, because I don't want anybody to-- it's got to be neutral."

Additionally, said Godrich, "The problem is, with television over here-- I don't know what it's like in the States-- but it's kind of dying, because people are no longer really willing to just be told what they're going to watch and when they're going to watch it. Everybody wants to see what they want to see, and they want to choose when."

Internet, then, seemed like the perfect solution. "The idea of doing a podcast and embracing this new world of distributing media-- it sort of made sense. And I was very resistant to it in the first place, but then I realized that maybe it was the way to do this."

Godrich isn't completely against television, however, if there's a way to eschew corporate sponsorship. "My fantasy was to get it on the BBC, just because, you know, it's the BBC, I have it very close to my heart. My dad worked for the BBC-- he was actually a sound guy for the BBC. So when I go in, and do the odd bits and bobs with bands I work with, when I go and just help them with TV sound, I know all the people in there already, and they're all really good, they're excellent."

In addition to producing and co-curating "From the Basement", Godrich also handles sound-- "because that's the thing I care about the most and I want it to be good, so I feel like it's my duty to get involved in that respect."

The series does away with "gimmicks" like a host, studio audiences, and any sort of "commercial enterprise," keeping the focus on the music. "Nobody is trying to make a fortune off of this. What we're trying to do is make enough money to keep going and to keep making more shows, because it's just fun. It's just a cool thing to do."

As Godrich said in summation, "I think that I'm disappointed by the current state of the music business. I think one of the reasons for that is just because people don't have anything stimulating to look at and listen to. So if we could somehow just feed something good, create something good, no matter on such a small scale, it doesn't matter. That's reason enough to do it."

Oh right, and that Radiohead record? "We're just getting on with it, really...I honestly really don't know [how long it will take], and that's the truth."

Thanks, man. Thanks a lot.

Perhaps the two songs Yorke has performed for "From the Basement"-- "Videotape" and "Down Is the New Up"-- will appear on that very record.

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