Interview: Paul Williams thanks Daft Punk for 'calling us geezers'
Ever since Daft Punk nabbed the Grammy for Album of the Year on Sunday, Paul Williams has been in the news, mainly from people wondering who is the 73-year old songwriter who spoke about sobriety and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s “Same Love” performance when he served as the mouthpiece during Daft Punk’s acceptance speech.
Williams spoke to the press backstage after winning the award, but Hitfix got some exclusive time with him to talk about the project.
For those in the music industry, Williams is a well-known figure, not only as a revered songwriter, but as the president of performing rights organization ASCAP. For songwriting fans, he’s best known for penning such hits as “Rainy Days and Mondays” and “We’ve Only Just Begun” for the Carpenters, and “Evergreen,” from “A Star is Born,” which earned him an Oscar. And Muppet fans know him from writing Kermit the Frog’s most beloved song, “Rainbow Connection.”
Williams, who sings and co-wrote the ballad “Touch” and wrote the lyrics for “Beyond” on “Random Access Memories” says working with Daft Punk, aka Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo was “amazing… They were fabulous, they’re creative, they’re flexible. As opposed to bringing us in to add wallpaper to something that was done, they brought me in at the very beginning of the album.”
He admits he was a little surprised when he got the word that the French duo wanted to work with him: “It’s a gift. My first nomination was in 1970 for ‘It’s Only Just Begun.’ It’s 2014 if you haven’t noticed.”
Williams half-joked that he found it “courageous calling us geezers to get involved… I think it was a very courageous thing to do, to do something with real emotional depth and all, not just another EDM record, although the EDM records they’e made were fantastic dance records and this is a dance record too.”
Movie fans know Williams from his role in Brian De Palma’s 1974 cult classic “Phantom of the Paradise.” Williams played evil record producer Swan and wrote all the music and lyrics for the movie. The film received an Oscar nomination for Original Song Score and Adaptation.