Atoms For Peace formed in October 2009 as a performance-based collaboration between Radiohead vocalist Thom Yorke, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, drummer Joey Waronker and percussionist Mauro Refosco. The group was put together by Yorke to play live the songs from his laptop-driven 2006 solo album, The Eraser. They toured briefly in early 2010 and performed at that year's Coachella Music & Arts Festival. So good were they in rehearsal that Yorke arranged for three days of studio recording in Los Angeles, after the last concert. This is the band's first official collaborative song, which they debuted on October 2, 2009 when the band played their first shows in Los Angeles.
Asked by Rolling Stone how much the music determined his lyric direction in the song, Yorke replied: "'Judge, Jury and Executioner' was a funny one, because the rhythm is so odd on it. The phrase just spewed out when I was playing the song on guitar. It was like a key, opening a door into all this other stuff that was going on, that I was desperate to get out. 'Judge, Jury and Executioner' – that's pretty angry."
Mike Campbell from Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers played the slide guitar on "Sixth Avenue Heartache." There is a connection here - Wallflowers lead singer Jakob's dad, Bob Dylan, played with Tom Petty in The Traveling Wilburys.