Beck has opened up about the debilitating spinal injury he suffered almost a decade ago, which very nearly ended his career as a touring musician.
In 2005, during a ten-hour shoot for the music video which was to accompany his song E-Pro, Beck sustained a spinal injury which required surgery and slowed his musical output.
Talking with Rolling Stone, Beck’s longtime drummer Joey Waronker explained, “There was this crazy choreography, where [Beck] was in a harness inside this moving wheel, being hit with sticks… In the footage, it looked like he was floating around. Somehow, he got seriously hurt.”
He said he doesn’t want to be “like the guy who won’t stop talking about his war wounds at the picnic” but the incident and its flow-on health effects have hugely impacted his career, even leading him to consider that his touring career could be cut short. “I thought, ‘This is it,'” he said.
Beck did, however, release two albums in the three years following the accident. As he toured in support of his 2008 album Modern Guilt, he noticed his movement was quite limited. “I stopped touring indefinitely,” he said of that period in his career. “I didn’t know if I ever would again. I wasn’t able to use my guitar and voice in the same way. It altered my life for a long time.”
Beck’s once consistent musical output began to deviate from the norm. He produced albums for Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stephen Malkmus, released covers of classic albums and put out the sheet-music album Song Reader.
Beck admits that he wondered if he’d ever return to the form which catapulted him into the spotlight as one of the fresh, new, postmodern artists of the 90s. “An executive said he thought I was better as a producer than as an artist… I kind of took that to heart. I considered doing other things, like putting out books, or I don’t know, making T-shirts?”
Beck has now returned with new album Morning Phase, which was released last month as his first album in six years.
The 2005 video for E-Pro featured Beck floating over a series of computer-generated landscapes, and was directed by London art collective Shynola.
Watch: Beck – E-Pro