TOKYO (TR) – Giving a listen to Philip Selway’s two solo albums prior to his appearance in Tokyo later this month suggests he has a split personality.
“Familial,” released in 2010, has the jangly pop feel of a 1990s British indie record. Last year’s “Weatherhouse,” meanwhile, is a darker album that feels like it was made by Selway, who many know as Radiohead’s drummer.
“I’ve been writing for 30 years,” said the 47-year-old Selway by phone from his home in Oxford, England in January. “So the musical styles are both me. ‘Familial’ is where I was in terms of songwriting at that time. And trying out that sort of stuff may not have been appropriate with Radiohead.”
The two records are as unrecognizable from each other as Radiohead’s 1993 debut “Pablo Honey” and more recent releases such as “Hail to the Thief” and “The King of Limbs.” Listening to Selway’s work alongside Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke’s solo albums also reveals the two play instrumental roles in the band. While Yorke fuses vocal effects and electronics, the drums on “Weatherhouse” create deeper soundscapes.
“A big difference with ‘Weatherhouse’ is I drummed on the record,” he said. “It was a different, more expansive platform.”
Selway will play selections from the record in the opening slot of the second day of the Hostess Club Weekender, which runs between February 21 and 22 in Tokyo. “I’ll be front and center,” he says.
Being first on stage — ahead of the likes of St Vincent and Thurston Moore — seems a far cry from the headline slots he enjoys with Radiohead. “Opening the bill feels like the way it should be,” he says. “I’m in a fortunate position and I am able to do both. Obviously it is great (to be headlining with Radiohead) but you also lose something (in larger, less intimate venues).”
In the digital age, when most music can come for free, it is questionable whether musicians younger than Selway will get to enjoy the lifestyle he has. “Your aspiration is to make music your entire life,” he says. “We had backing at the start and the ability to generate resources to continue. Digitization is great. But it’s finding a model that is fair to the artists.”