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Thom Yorke, Flea Take New York With New Band

Meet the Radiohead leader’s rhythm-heavy crew, Atoms for Peace

Rolling Stone IN May 10, 2010

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

”˜This is one you ain’t heard before,” Radiohead singer Thom Yorke said as he introduced a new song, ”˜A Walk Down the Staircase,’ during the solo portion of his April 5 concert with side project Atoms for Peace, at New York’s Roseland. In fact, the entire show ”“ the first of two at Roseland, and the opening night of a quick US tour that ends April 18 at Coachella ”“ was a surprise attack, with Yorke, bassist Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich (on keyboards and guitar), drummer Joey Waronker and percussionist Mauro Refosco playing drastic jungle-funk rearrangements of the digital-noir songs on Yorke’s 2006 album, The Eraser.

“I made so many mistakes tonight,” Flea confessed, laughing and sporting electric-blue hair backstage after the show. “Thom created these songs on laptops. There are notes in there that are easy to play on a computer ”“ you just hit a key. But to play them live, on an instrument, is a challenge.”

Yorke performed another new song on April 5, ”˜The Daily Mail,’ and dropped Radiohead material into both Roseland set lists, including ”˜Everything in Its Right Place’ and the B sides ”˜Paperbag Writer’ and (on the second night) ”˜Fog.’ In the latter, Yorke sang, “And the fog comes up from the sewers” ”“ no doubt inspired by a massive underground fire that broke out that afternoon, forcing authorities to close the street outside Roseland, sending ticket holders around to form a long line at the venue’s rear entrance.

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Until they got to Roseland, Atoms for Peace had played only three gigs, all last fall in Los Angeles. But Yorke definitely considers them a band with a future. At a post-show reception backstage, he revealed that Atoms for Peace rehearsed for several days before the New York shows at Electric Lady Studios, where they worked on riffs and rhythms for potential new songs. And, Flea confirmed, “we’ve been coming up with some pretty cool shit.”

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