Thom : "This is about the unspeakable. Literally skull-crushing. I used to work in a mental hospital around the time that Care In The Community started, and we all just knew what was going to happen. And it's one of the scariest things to happen in this country, because a lot of them weren't just harmless... It was hailing violently when we recorded this. It seemed to add to the mood.
Some people can't sleep with the curtains open in case they see the eyes they imagine in their heads every night burning through the glass. Lots of people have panic buttons fitted in their bedrooms so they can reach over and set the alarm off without disturbing the intruder. This song is about the cupboard monster."
Even bigger, even scarier rock track. Thom Yorke does his best to sound demented, but is out-done by the monumental chaos going on behind him.
Colin: "It's quite horrible, isn't it?"
Ed: "We always knew that song had an atmosphere and it was very easy to capture. The white noise is loads of violins."
Colin: "We recorded in in the ballroom of this old stately home. Dare we say there was something Gothic about the environment? It was certainly very New Grave of New Grave."
Thom: "'Was it an accident that of the 10 largest mass-murderers in American History, eight have occurred since 1980, typically acts of middle-aged white men in their 30s and 40s after a prolonged period of being lonely, frustruated and full of rage and of 10 precipitated by a catastrophe in their lives such as losing their jobs or divorce?' New York Times, october 17th 1991 - quoted by Eric Hobsbawn in 'Age of Extremes'."
(Melody maker, may 31st 1997)
Jonny Greenwood opens up the song database on OK Computer.
Climbing Up The Walls
A deranged insight into a very warped personality. "Very String based.
The white noise is 16 violins. Frightening music. We didn't mean it to be like that; it just happened.
Thom: "You don't need drugs to make extreme music. Just reading the papers makes you feel extreme. 'Climbing Up The Walls', for instance. I used to work in a mental hospital around the time the Government was getting passionate about Care in the Community, and everyone just knew what was going to happen. It was one of the scariest things that ever happened in this country, because a lot of them weren't harmless. It's like those huge 18th-century paintings, if you get really close to them, you can see these little figures in the corners, these amorphous little monsters. And that's what some big towns are like now: the shadows contain amorphous little monsters."
(The Times, june 13th 1997)
Colin dates the start of the record back to the summer of ‘95 when they supported REM on tour. He recalls playing ‘Climbing Up The Walls’ at a soundcheck at the Hershey Stadium. Peter Buck was checking their progress from the sound desk, and when they’d finished, he walked away, whistling the tune with his hands in his pockets.
“Well, we stole a lot of Polish composer Penderecki’s string ideas. Rock arrangements haven’t changed much since the days of The Beatles and ‘Eleanor Rigby’. And if bands do want to get weird things with strings, they just put them through effects.
“We’ve found all these composers that are still getting new sounds out of violins. On the last chord of our song, ‘Climbing Up The Walls’, there’s this block of white noise you can make when 16 violins are playing quarter tones apart from each other. It’s the most frightening sound – like insects or something. But it’s beautiful.”
(NME, june 21st 1997)
In connection with 'Climbing Up The Walls' he describes their experience of early evening support spots in America, "screaming about domestic murder while the audience is eating popcorn. Nothing's happening. It's brilliant".
(Q Magazine, october 1997, day off between Atlanta and Washington)
Q: "When you play the radio onstage during 'Climbing Up The Walls', what are you doing?"
Jonny: "I'm tuning at random. I find two or three classical stations and two or three talking stations at the soundcheck and use them during the gig. I know what kind of music it is advance - I don't want 'Size Of A Cow' to come out during the show." [laughs]
(Select Magazine, december 1997, the following day in Florence)
Among the more random moments on OK Computer are, the use of transistor radio noise and tape loops on 'Climbing Up the Walls'. (Yorke: "Whenever there was tape all over the studio floor, I knew things were going well.")
(Guitar World, april 1998)