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 5th 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 U.S. tour that ends April 18th 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 alter the show. “Thom created these songs on laptops. There are notes in there that a re 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 5th, “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 bv 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.
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.”
This story is from the April 29th, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone.