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The Dead Weather To Play In Nigel Godrich's Basement
Ben Hewitt , June 19th, 2009 07:59

Producer will host special performance from Jack White and Alison Mosshart

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Super producer Nigel Godrich is busy preparing for the latest installment of his 'From the Basement' series with Jack White and Alison Mosshart’s new band The Dead Weather.

The engineering genius, who has been instrumental in recording career defining performances out of artists such as Radiohead and Beck, will capture a special intimate performance from the White Stripes guitarist and Kills singer which will be streamed for free here. Or, if you don't want to waste your energy clicking, you'll be able to watch the performance on a stream right here at The Quietus.

Eager to find out more, The Quietus caught up with Nigel to get the full monty on where ‘From the Basement’ came from, the music television circus, and whether things will kick off again between Jack and Alison…

Hi, Nigel. How are things going over there? Are you busy preparing for Monday?

Nigel Godrich: Yeah, there’s a lot going on right now, but it’s all good.

I guess the obvious place to start is the inspiration behind From the Basement

NG: It was quite a few years ago when I was having a conversation with Beck about Rock &‘N’ Roll Circus, the film made by The Rolling Stones in the 60’s. At the time they didn’t feel it was good enough because it was basically a little bit plotless, just them hanging out with their friends playing music. But now it’s really interesting to watch all these really great people - the Stones, John Lennon, Eric Clapton - just hanging out and playing. Beck and I both felt that somehow, something had been lost in the way that people film music. It was a lot more basic in those days, and now MTV has destroyed the way that people film performing because suddenly it became about the agenda of who’s filming it, the performance of the director, the shaky cameras…

The other thing, I got this old Whistle Test DVD that blew me away. It’s such an intimate atmosphere that comes over so well, and it’s a shame to think that of the great artists that are around at the moment, no-one is recording them in that way. It will be some sort of horrible, corporate logo embezzled version, which is a shame.

What are the benefits of capturing a performance in such an intimate environment?

NG: I think it provides something very, very direct between the performer and the audience. When Talking Heads did ‘Psycho Killer’ on the Whistle Test, when David Byrne talks to the camera and goes straight into the performance…it makes the hairs on your neck stand up, because you feel it’s just for you. You can tell they were comfortable, and that’s why it worked.

Is that what you try to do? Make the artist comfortable?

NG: Yeah, if they’re relaxed then they’ll normally perform better. I think it helps that I find the TV world as strange and alien as everyone else. You walk into the studio and there are 50 people just standing there, watching you, and you think ‘What do you do?’ ‘What do you do?’. It’s just a different mindset to the music industry.”

So this Monday, Jack White and Alison Mosshart’s new band The Dead Weather are playing in the Basement. Why did you want them on?

NG: I know Jack through Beck, and he was very instrumental in starting the show. He played on the pilot, when we had Thom Yorke playing tracks from The Eraser and The White Stripes doing stuff from Get Behind Me Satan, which was great. He’s a huge supporter of the whole thing; he told me that their performance on the show is his favourite TV footage of The White Stripes, which is very flattering.

I’ve met Alison a few times before, as well, because Jamie Hince is an old friend of mine. We filmed them for the show over Christmas, and they were fantastic. I haven’t actually seen The Dead Weather play together, but I know it’s going to be something pretty cool.

Both The White Stripes and The Kills use that raw, intimate sound as part of their aesthetic, so they seem perfect for the show.

Definitely. They’re such direct performers, with fantastic energy, and they’ll really thrive in the format. Watching them play together should be pretty special.

Hopefully they’ll stay off the drink this time as well…

NG: You know what? You should never believe everything you read in the paper, come on. Take that sort of stuff with a pinch of salt. [Laughs]. You’re a journalist, you know that.

What are the plans for the future? Are there any more names lined up?

NG: Generally, the way that it happens is that we put the call out to people we’re interested in and they get back to us. We’ve got a few names we’re working on, but I don’t want to say anything in case it doesn’t happen, because it would be embarrassing for both parties.

We’ve already worked with some great names, from PJ Harvey to The Fall to Sonic Youth to Jarvis. Hopefully that will continue in the future.

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