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Phil Selway performing with Radiohead in 2006
|Birth name||Philip James Selway|
|Born||23 May 1967|
|Origin||Abingdon-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, England|
|Genres||Alternative rock, art rock, electronic, folk rock|
|Instruments||Drums, percussion, vocals|
|Labels||XL, TBD, Bella Union|
|Associated acts||Radiohead, 7 Worlds Collide, The Weird Sisters|
Philip James Selway (born 23 May 1967) is an English musician, singer, and songwriter best known as the drummer of English rock group Radiohead. In addition to drums, he provides backing vocals, synthesizers, along with occasional guitar and lead vocals, for 7 Worlds Collide. Selway is well known for his precision and proficiency in various styles and unusual time signatures, being named the 26th greatest drummer of all time by Gigwise in 2008. He has worked with Samaritans since 1991.
The members of Radiohead met while attending Abingdon School, an independent school for boys in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Selway, along with guitarist Ed O'Brien, was in the year above singer Thom Yorke and bassist Colin Greenwood, and three years above multi-instrumentalist Jonny Greenwood, brother of Colin. In 1985, they formed On a Friday, the name referring to the band's usual rehearsal day in the school's music room.
Selway studied Literature, Life, and Thought (English and History) at Liverpool Polytechnic's C.F. Mott Campus near Prescot (now Liverpool John Moores University). Before that, he had studied maths, worked for various touring musicians, and worked as an English teacher. In the early 1990s, Selway left On a Friday to move to Ireland, but returned to the band when a relationship ended.
In 1991, On a Friday signed a six-album recording contract with EMI and changed their name to Radiohead. They found early success with their 1992 single "Creep". Their third album, OK Computer (1997), propelled them to international fame and is often acclaimed as one of the best albums of all time. By 2011, Radiohead had sold more than 30 million albums worldwide. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2019.
His timing and varied drumming help to give the band its sound. Whereas his technique on earlier albums such as Pablo Honey and The Bends corresponded to the classic rock feel of the band's original style, the more experimental and atmospheric feel of their more recent work has been complemented by Selway's transition to a more solid, repetitive technique, often featuring a motorik sound.
Apart from his regular band duties, Selway also occasionally sings backing vocals during live performances, especially notable on "There There", "2+2=5", "I Will", and "Go to Sleep". Since the album Kid A, he has also contributed drum machine programming.
Since 2011, Selway has performed at Radiohead shows with a second drummer, Clive Deamer. Selway said: "That was fascinating. One played in the traditional way, the other almost mimicked a drum machine. It was push-and-pull, like kids at play, really interesting."
Work outside Radiohead
Selway has been associated with emotional support group Samaritans as a listening volunteer since 1991. He performed with the band Dive Dive in March 2005 and appeared in the movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as a member of the band "The Weird Sisters" along with Radiohead bandmate Jonny Greenwood and Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker.
Selway has also toured and recorded with Neil Finn as part of the 7 Worlds Collide project. He drummed on their eponymous 2001 live album and provides drums, guitar and occasional lead vocals on their 2009 studio album, The Sun Came Out, where he also penned two tracks.
In 2009 Selway was featured as a guitarist on Martin Simpson's studio album True Stories.
Selway released his debut solo album, Familial, on 30 August 2010. The album features Selway on guitar and vocals, along with Wilco members Glenn Kotche and Pat Sansone as well as fellow 7 Worlds Collide artists, Lisa Germano and Sebastian Steinberg. He announced a solo tour on 4 February 2011. Selway's second solo album, Weatherhouse, was released on 6 October 2014.
Selway was born in Abingdon, Berkshire (now Oxfordshire, England). He and his wife Cait have three children: Leo, Jamie, and Patrick (to whom Kid A, Amnesiac, and Hail to the Thief were dedicated, respectively).
His mother Thea died during a Radiohead tour in May 2006. The band cancelled one of their dates in Amsterdam so that Selway could carry out his family duties. The band later returned to Amsterdam in August to play the missed show. The discbox, LP, and CD release of In Rainbows mentions a dedication to Thea Selway.
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- Philip Selway – official site