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Radiohead
door Oene Kummer | fotografie Roy Tee



'The circus is coming to town', says Colin cheerfully, as he is talking about the upcoming tour of his band. Radiohead will not play in the open air, but Radiohead plays The Goffert in a marquee offering 10,000 seats. A tour with a tent, sounds familiar. 'Yes, like The Cure used to do'. But why?

'Flexibility; the only thing we need is a piece of land and permission from the authorities. It doesn't need to be announced a year or six months in advance. Big venues are usually fully booked. We no longer want to commit ourselves way ahead, as we used to do in the past. If you want to play Ahoy, you have to wait and see if they can squeeze you in somewhere between let's say Eurythmics and The Corrs. And if you don't decide fast enough, Oasis will beat you to it. What we are going to do, gives us more freedom.
Our management calls it The Grand Tour because it is a lazy tour in beautiful surroundings with two days off between gigs. We have reached the level that the quality of the shows and our enjoyment comes first. We could have played all European festivals as headliner this summer and make a lot of money. We could have played all the Ahoys, but in that case the tour would have bored us like the tour after OK Computer and I don't think this and would survive that. Thom could not do that agian, and neither could I, actually.'

The new Radiohead cd can actually only be disappointing. That's not negative thinking; it would truly be a miracle if the upcoming, fourth album turns out to be as brilliant as the chosen Album of the year 1998 OK Computer. We will definately have to wait a while longer. However, those who have followed the progression of the band through the internet, know that the making of the new cd has been a long and trying process. Colin: 'So you have been reading Ed's diary? It's pretty accurate. He did well. I haven't updated my page since December. Disgraceful! Anyway, about the the album: we are now at the point of not being able to to judge objectively, because we are just too focused after about 18 months of recording. So at a certain point we have to let go and await the reaction of the audience. We have reached that point now. Recordings have finished, we have almost concluded mixing them and are working on the tracklisting. We are considering a couple of possible album titles and we want to do something with the extra tracks. We have actually recorded some twenty to thirty songs, though the album has no more than 45 minutes. It has to become an album you would sit down for and listen to, but it should not be too long. Therefore we would like to release a couple of not included tracks seperately, shortly after the release of the album.'
On the internet I read that you have worked on one specific song for 373 days. Not continueously, I presume, but still.... And apparently it was a pretty simple song, too. 'With No Surprises' from Ok Computer it was just like that. We taped it very fast and after that we spent 18 months to make it better. Eventually we had 25 takes and we decided that the first one was the best after all. But I think I'm pretty content with the new album. If you like Exit Music and Airbag but not Electioneering, you'll be okay with the new record. I find Electioneering the weakest song on OK Computer by far. Too wanna-be rough.
We're still discussing it. Thom and Ed quite like it, but according to me we went terribly wrong in the middle of a moderate album'.
Are you not overdoing your perfectionism a little? 'Is that it, perfectionism? We are those kind of people that can't make decisions. The recordingstudio is camera, an album is a picture, but the band changes all the time, which is why the picture never becomes totally clear'.

What else can you tell about the new cd? 'The album was produced again by our friend Nigel Godrich. Songtitles? How to disappear, Kid A, Everything in its right place, Everyone (national anthem), Motion Picture soundtrack, Idioteuque, Morning Bell, Nothing to fear (a.k.a. Egyptian song).... these are the tracks that are, according to me, certain to be released on the album. Thom's lyrics are are more fragmentary than before. Some of the vocals are burried under music. On the other hand there are incredibly strong vocals on it, as may be expected from him. My brother Jonny has written beautiful string arrangementswhich we recorded with the Orchestra of St. Jon Smith Square. It wasn't done the standard rock On roll way, as did Oasis or Live, but more like Scott Walker. Also the strings have not been recorded in the Abbey Road studio, but in a real old monastery, so it sounds really cool. We have also experimented with new technology, new sounds, new instruments, new effects. Between the songs are electronic ambient intermezzo's'.
How do you feel about the music that's being made now and about the bands that borrowed your sound? 'You mean Muse? I'm not interested at all in a band like that. We are actually trying to get away from that sound and and do another thing. I don't mean to sound arrogant, but there's not much to the alternative popmusic of this moment. In England the situation is even despairing. When a band like Travis are considered refreshing.....what can I say? They are friends of mine, like them, but I'd never play their album. And Nigel Godrich has produced it! They use Fake Plastic Trees as a blueprint for their own music. I won't put them down, but uuuhhh.... it's all so conservative. I hope someone will show up with an album that's more successful than Psyence Fiction by UNKLE. That was an attempt to combine beats with songs and lyrics. That's the Holy Grail for us as well. Mixing songs written on an acoustic guitar with songs based on beats'.
Colin Greenwood is in such good spirits that I can't help but think about the depression the band radiated in Meeting people is easy, the documentary filmed by Grant Gee a couple of years ago. Colin shivers a he recalls. 'Grant is a good director, but he only showed our misarable side. He shot a lot of film in Japan, where we were for two weeks. It was cold, it was snowing, we didn't understand the language and we understood almost nothing about the culture. To be short: we were going crazy. After that, we went to Australia and New Zealand, where it was sunny and warm. We went swimming, karting, got invited for barbeques and had great fun. Grant was not there to film it. What's in that movie is true, but is only 25% of the whole story. If it were always that boring, we would not be in this band. Friends and family have told me off: if you have such a wonderful job than why are you whining? Just quit! That's why we are doing the tent-tour, because we never want to end up again in a situation where we we feel sorry for ourselves."