Screenshots of footage Grant Gee took at the interview for use in Meeting People Is Easy are posted ahead of the transcript.
Jo: Ed flew in from Spain, wasn't it?
Ed: Well it always sounds frequent-
Jo: I don't, it was a Learjet last time, wasn't it?
Ed: [laughter] It was a Learjet. No, no, it was [Bond voice] "I've just flow in from Spain." No, I just went up to Spain for New Year, and it was great, although I don't really like Christmas on New Year, I'm sort of the "Bah, humbug"
Jo: Are you?
Ed: about all that. I hate it, I really, really hate it. So it was nice to go somewhere diffrent and to have, you know, and the Spanish are great partiers, they don't go out until about 11:30, midnight, or whatever, and they party until about 8:00 in the morning so... it was good. It was very good.
Jo: Do did you actually ignore Christmas altogether, you didn't buy any presents?
Ed: No, I bought a few presents, but I didn't buy a tree. No compromises.
Jo: Of course. "No surprises."
Jo: And, Phil, what about you?
Phil: I had a very quiet time, actually. One of those very laid-back family Christmasses, and hiding from the weather. Hiding from the elements.
Jo: Very good idea. Did you buy presents for each other in the band?
Ed: No, we had a present and card amnesty.
Jo: Did you?
Ed: It's like, cause it was getting to be too much hassle. And it's like, all these stresses before Christmas, and we had this gig to do, so it's like, "No, no, let's ignore one another for once."
Jo: Right. And where are the rest of the band?
Phil: They're all off in different parts, at the moment. Everybody's just getting themselves ready cause we're off touring again fairly soon so everybody's getting themselves into the right mindset for that at the moment.
Jo: And where are the first dates?
Phil: Over in Japan. I think the first date's in Tokyo, isn't it?
Jo: Oh, I bet the fanclub are already putting out the flags!
Jo: "This is the Phil Fanclub!"
Phil: No, it's come to an end, actually.
Jo: Oh no! What happened? Did you displease them? [laughs]
Phil: Um, no I think they felt it was getting a bit out of hand.
Ed: Too many people!
Phil: That's right. Dwindled to two, actually. Both of those were my pseudonyms. [laughs]
Jo: We're going to talk in just a little bit. This was the challenge, cause I've been saying this, but every guest that we had on last year had to choose a favorite track of the year, and it was always Radiohead, and it was like, this is getting very boring! So you have to choose a track that isn't your own. And Ed, we'll play one of yours first. So why this?
Ed: It's Jeff Buckley - Last Goodbye. Well obviously you know Jeff Buckley died last year, and he just had, I mean, I didn't really like the album that much when it came out, but I listened to it more, and this track is amazing, and he just has the voice of an angel.
Jo: We played the B-side which is going to be on the CD single yesterday, Palo Alto, which sounded stunning. I thought you probably agreed with that, Phil, you heard it on the radio yesterday
Phil: Yes, it shook my speakers.
Jo: Did it?
Jo: Good. Tell us the story behind that track. Where was it recorded, when?
Phil: Um, that track was actually recorded whilst we were out on this last lot of tourning. We set up a small digital studio in the back of our bus. All the guitars were laid down during that time, and then we finally at the end of the tour, after the last day we went into the studio to lay down the drums the next day. So that track was recorded over the course of about two months really, wasn't it?
Ed: Yeah, in Europe, and then finished off at the end of the last UK shows.
Jo: Yeah. And then the other track that's going to be a B-side was How I Made My Millions. You were just telling us the story of how that was made, because it's, uh... strange! To say the least!
Jo: I will play it for you tomorrow, just so you can get an idea.
Ed: It's basically, Thom did it at home, with a minidisc, and playing the piano at home. And we were struggling in the studio, we had just come off, finished the last date in Aberdeen, gone down in the studio next door, and we had literally, "You've got 24 hours to do a track!" sort of thing. To do 2 tracks. And we were struggling about 3:00 in the morning with this other track, which didn't make it. And it wasn't happening, so Thom said, "Well, you know, hang on a second, I've got this other track, I don't know what you think of it, I don't think it's much good. And he put it on, and we were like, blown away by it. So it was like, well, here we are. And we were all joking about the low fidelity... But it's really cool, and I think it's really nice thing, it's a really nice thing to have.
Jo: And the background noises?
Phil: Excellent, yeah. I said, "Well that sounds like somebody's doing the washing up, Thom, doesn't it?"
Phil: And it was.
Jo: So when you listen to it tomorrow, it is somebody doing the washing off in the background. When you did No Surprises at Glastonbury, I found it incredibly moving, and loads of people said it was like the highlight, it was the best movement. What was it like for you on stage, with the fireworks going off?
Ed: Petrifying. I mean we didn't see the fireworks from the start. I think Thom saw it, and he was having such a bad time anyway. His monitors went down, he couldn't see the audience cause all the lights had gone down, so there were all these bright lights shining in his eyes and everything. So it was weird, cause the first five songs, and also the encores were really moving, very empowering, but the rest of it, your words were just-
Jo: Hard work.
Ed: And to do it at Glastonbury! We'd been building up, we were nervous enough as it was. You build 8 weeks to this big event, and suddenly for this, your worst nightmare to happen on stage, I mean. Thom was unbelievable, he'd just like, you know... And afterwords- cause, you know, as a band you're lead by your lead singer and your drummer so if either one aren't having a good time, the rest of us don't. [to Phil] But thankfully, you had a great gig!
Jo: Good! Phil, you get to choose another track now that we're going to play, and you've chosen Joe Jackson. Why Joe Jackson?
Phil: Yes, going back in time on this one.
Jo: How many years? Let's have a look: '79.
Phil: Um, well Joe Jackson was and is an excellent songwriter, and there was something about this track: I used to love drumming on this track, I thought I'd never be able to drum like that, and... And I can't!
Jo: And you can't! Lot's of reminiscing going on while that track was on, and you get a namecheck on that one, Phil. "I've had my fill." That's probably why he likes it. Has there been a moment of quiet contemplation or reflection where you've all sat there and sort of toasted each and said, "It was a good year, '97. That was a good year."
Phil: We don't actually do that as band, do we?
Ed: No, we're not sort of great reminiscers, cause we were all at school together so the tendency could be for us to reminisce about that, but we don't actually do that. Um, but it doesn't feel for us that it's the end of '97. Our end of '97 will be sort of mid-April when we finish touring, when we do the last tour and we do that in America. So I'm sure the last date there will be a couple of drinks. But it's not really, it doesn't feel like the end of the year for us.
Jo: And of course, you were saying last time at the Q awards that you hadn't actually won many awards or anything like that. But you're going to have to go out and buy the clothes and get the speeches ready. Because you probably will have to go to a few... actually maybe you'll be out of the country when the awards are happening.
Ed: See, that's the great thing about being a touring band, when you don't really like award ceremonies either. I mean you saw us, we don't really feel comfortable. I'm sure a lot of people don't. But um...
Jo: Are you going to make those arty kind of films, like R.E.M. do, Michael Stipe with weird camera angles. Radiohead: "Oh thank you very much." That's very good, so you probably were planning all your tours going, "All right, the Brits are on this date, can you please? We want to be in Japan if that's all right by you?"
Jo: Are your family fairly nonchalant by it all now? Or do they still see you in front covers and go, "Oh, that's very exciting."
Phil: No, they're really into it, and I think very impressed by it.
Jo: What's the thing that's most impressed your families?
Phil: I think that's actually going back some time, actually playing at the Apollo in Oxford, wasn't it?
Ed: Yeah, they all came out for us. You can see all the parents, there on the front row of the balcony. And my parents are split up, so we had to separate them. We had my mother on the left hand side and my dad on the right of the balcony, and I was worried that the two would meet and there would be some kind of fracas in the balcony.
Jo: Very good. Did it make you really nervous that they were there?
Ed: Yeah! Petrifying.
Jo: Probably it was the worst gig for you.
Phil: Actually doing gigs where you've got family or friends, they are petrifying. Because, you know, generally you can get up on stage and nobody knows you anyway, apart from what they've seen from the photos or something, so they think, "Yes, I can be in a band." Once you have your family or anybody there you feel incredibly self-conscious.
Jo: Were there any bad reviews of OK Computer? Did you read any?
Ed: Yeah there were a couple, I remember one bloke, he was-
Jo: "I remember his name and I have his address!"
Ed: No! Actually it was very constructive, what he said.
Jo: That must have been refreshing!
Ed: Yeah, it was! Someone who said... the point was he was worried that a lot of bands would be influenced by Paranoid Android, and we'd suddenly get back into this terrible sort of prog rock, kind of bands coming out with 8 minute songs.
Ed: ...these tapes with 3 tracks and 24 minutes long.
Jo: Yeah, yeah. And OK Computer was the result of you kind of being left to indulge yourself-
Ed: [sighs] Yeah.
Jo: -everyone going, "Fine do what you want!" And you went, "Yeah, OK, we will do that." And you were very conscious of that at the time. Is that going to be the way forward for you now, like every album will be like that? Or can you [crosstalk]
Phil: We don't know how we're going to approach the next album yet, and we didn't know how were going to approach OK Computer.
Jo: Will there be a new album by the end of '98?
Ed: NO. There won't be, almost certainly. I'm sure there will be something in '99.
Jo: Oh good! That's a relief then!
Ed: The great thing is we've got this working relationship with Nigel Godrich, and he was an engineer on the Bends, and first we did some B-sides and then we did Lucky with him. And we just work so well together, so we want to carry on working with him for the foreseeable future.
Jo: Right. But it will be in '99. Alright, I want to play the Verve now, it's kind of funny because the parallels between the Verve and Radiohead, just like every front cover. Did you like their album, the Verve album?
Ed: Bittersweet Symphony, I thought it was the most amazing track I'd heard for some time, it really excited me. And then The Drugs Don't Work, I thought geez, you know. They're probably the best 2 singles of the year, in many ways. I mean our album, I don't think has got any singles on them.
Jo: They were non-singles. What other bands do you like? You've just said that you thought the Verve has made a better album than yourselves, last year. Who else do you particularly like? You get out to see live bands, don't you?
Phil: Yeah. Well bands that I've enjoyed last year... I saw Portishead at Brixton recently, I thought that was amazing. Teenage Fanclub did a lot of dates with us last year. Absolutely incredible band.
Ed: They're wonderful, yeah.
Jo: Good company, I should imagine, to have on tour.
Ed: Brilliant company. I mean, we had Shadow out on tour with us and his album's-
Jo: DJ Shadoww.
Ed: Yeah, DJ Shadow, sorry.
Jo: For the uninformed.
Ed: And Massive Attack - huge fans of theirs. And we bumped into them a couple of times, or three or four times last year. And they're Bristol boys and we're Oxford boys, West Country boys. And it was cool. Really good to meet them and start talking about plans.
Jo: I was gonna say, what is happening? Is there anything happening between the two of you?
Ed: Yeah, we'd really like them to remix- the whole idea was to have a couple of beers and this "yeah, we'll remix the whole album, we love it, you know, I think it'll be wicked, and that whole Massive Attack vs Radiohead thing, it could be quite interesting. We were really really up for it, but they've got to finish their album. And they said they want to do it after they finish their album. And if it happens, I think it could be really cool, you know. It could be a really interesting thing.
Jo: But you'll probably be onto new stuff by then too, maybe there'll be a future collaboration.
Ed: We'll be resting! [laughter]
Jo: You won't be doing anything! Are you still firmly rooted in Oxford?
Phil: We are!
Jo: Do you do a U2 type thing where they kind of invest in Dublin and in...
Ed: What do we do for Oxford...? Erm, not a lot, really! Well I don't think we quite have the funds that U2 have. I mean, Oxford's a really good place to go back to. I mean, I think if we were there all the time, all our friends say, you know, oh god, you were able to get out of Oxford. A lot of them do. But it's a really good place to go back to. And there's a really good live music scene, a lot of really good young bands. A band called Meddle and a band called Dustfall, and there are more bands than that, and it's really good cause everyone's doing their own thing, musically. And it's always been like that. Musically it's very healthy.
Jo: What happens when you go out on tour? Do you have people managing your lives back in Oxford? Like, who pays the bills when you go on tour?
Ed: Direct debit.
Jo: It's the answer to everything.
Phil: DD. [laughter]
Jo: Okay. Is there going to be a UK appearance by you next year?
Phil: Unfortunately not.
Jo: Nothing at all. No festivals, nothing like that.
Ed: I think people are probably s- you know, we've done enough this last year, we've been in people's faces a lot, and we're kind of quite aware of that, and we're just doing a bit more touring, and then we need to get away. Cause you know, by doing those arenas at the end of the year, that was a big kind of head adjustment for us. Cause you know, we didn't even think we'd be doing those.
Jo: Has it kind of done your heads in a bit, that success?
Ed: It's not the success, I think it's just suddenly when the pressure is definitely on, when suddenly instead of cocking up in front of 2,000, instead in front of 14,000, it's a bit more, and all the pressures and that. And then when you get tired and aren't necessary enjoying it as much, and people are saying, "THAT WAS A GREAT GIG! THAT WAS SO GOOD!" And when you stop trusting your own judgment and everything it gets a bit scary, so we just need to take a bit of time off. We've been going for 6 years, we haven't taken much- the most has been about 2 or 3 weeks. We'll take the summer off and then just get back, ease back into things.
Jo: Has it caused more friction this past year, within the band, or has there been any friction at all?
Phil: There hasn't been any friction at all, actually. I mean, we've been together as a band for 12 years. And I think this past year has been the most we've been together as 5 people.
Phil: We've learned how to work round each other, and we feel that we work well together, we feel that we come on as musicians, and...
Jo: Blah, blah, blah and all that, yeah.
Phil: You know, it's probably the most enjoyable at the moment, I think.
Jo: Than it's ever been. And what are you desperate to do when you do eventually finish touring and you get home? Is there something you've missed from your domestic life?
Ed: What is domestic life?
Jo: Ok, getting in touch with yourselves, normal life.
Ed: Just being around your house or whatever, cause you're never around there or whatever. Putting on your stereo first thing in the morning, stuff like that.
Jo: Doing your own washing... Not!
Jo: Thank you very much for coming in today, and you've chosen a final track for us to play from Laika - Bedbugs.
Phil: That's right. One of the great things about touring at the moment is chosing bands that are going to be special guests. And we're lucky enough that Laika agreed to come out with us this year. Half of what used to be Moonshake, and this song, Bedbugs, is great, and they're great as well.
Jo: Ok, thank you very much for coming in today, and have a good rest when you finally go back.