This is a transcript from a recording of the broadcast.
[recording starts here]
['There There' plays]
Jonathan Ross: "That’s fantastic, innit? Fantastic new single from Radiohead there. It’s called... What’s it called again? It‘s called...
Thom: "There There.
Jonathan: "There There from Hail to the Thief. The new album, which is not out for a while yet, is it, Thom?
Thom: "Oh, I don‘t... it’s actually pretty soon. It’s a couple of weeks, I think.
Jonathan: "But people already... people have already been nicking it off the internet and you know...
Jonathan: "And I’ve been doubling off copies in the (???) room.
Thom: "What do you think?
Jonathan: "No, I tried to, but I couldn’t. They gave me a copy and I thought I’d store it on my Ipod. The level of security on this CD you can‘t, not only can you not crack in, police turn up at my door when I try to do something.
Thom: "(laughs) They have your name.
Jonathan: "Ah, it’s very nice of you to come on. Thank you very much for coming on the show. You also preformed on the talk show for me this week.
Thom: "Yeah, yeah.
Jonathan: "And I’ve got to congratulate you on that version they did, uh Fake Plastic Trees.
Thom: "Great, yeah.
Jonathan: "What a tremendous, and what I would imagine, a difficult song to sing live
Thom: "Uh... it is on, in, on TV like that cause it’s normally we do it like at the end of a show when everything’s just gone haywire for two hours and it’s sort of quite a good one to wind down with.
Jonathan: "I assume you’re warmed up as well. Your voice and stuff.
Thom: "Yeah, yeah. It’s quite a tough one to do.
Jonathan: "They sounded great. I have sung it on many occasions.
Thom: "Have you?
Jonathan: "Well, when my wife was learning guitar, she still is, she learned that one and I had to do the lyrics for her. So I’d just like you to take on that image of me sitting with the lyrics sheet and I was just trying to get the high... The high note you do.
Thom: "In the lounge?
Jonathan: "Oh, well it’s tough. Especially after cigar.
Thom: "Yeah. It’s probably easier after cigar.
Jonathan: "But it’s great... We’ve got a friend called Phil who’s a guitar teacher at school.
Thom: "All right.
Jonathan: "And uh the way he teaches guitar, and I don’t know how you learned guitar, but the way he teaches is he get kids to say this is a track I love and he breaks it down for them so they can learn it.
Jonathan: "And he says he probably get more requests for My Iron Lung...
Jonathan: "Yeah. My Iron Lung. When kids hit that gloomy teenage faze and they go ‘I wanna learn My Iron Lung.’
Thom: "I’m still there man. I’m still there.
Jonathan: "And he goes off and he has to come back with it.
Jonathan: "But that’s a nice, I would have thought quite a nice feeling knowing that kids like that still respond to it.
Thom: "I know, it’s quite peculiar. Like we used to get uptight about the... you know, because they make those music books on how to learn the chords and stuff and then the chords got so messy and complicated and...
Thom: "Because they paid professionals to sit down and try and work it out and they get it wrong all the time.
Jonathan: "Of course.
Thom: "Jonny used to get really upset and now we don’t care.
Jonathan: "But I guess they break it down in an easier way. That’s why they don’t do it in the way you play.
Thom: "Kind of, yeah. But I mean there’s whole sections where, like on Kid A, where I mean, I didn’t give them the words even, so they even have to make up the words.
Thom: "And (laughs) it just doesn’t relate at all.
Jonathan: "Why do people do that? Cause when I was a kid, I used to love albums with the lyrics sheets, ok? And then you’d get albums without em. Why are people not doing that? What’s going through your head when you decide not to give out the lyrics sheets?
Thom: "Oh I was just cheesed off with like, with lazy journos.
Jonathan: "And so you wanted them to have to do the work? To to to...
Thom: "Yeah, which of course they didn’t, but that was kinda not my problem.
Jonathan: "And then they’re gonna get it wrong and is that not infuriating?
Thom: "Yeah well, that’s why, that’s why... I learned my lesson. (laughs)
Jonathan: "So, on Hail to the Thief, are we gonna have the the... there’ll be lyrics in there?
Thom: "Yeah we got... It’s all in there actually.
Jonathan: "How long on average does it take you to write a song? Is there such a thing as an average period? You and Jonny sit down, how long does it take?
Thom: "Um it could take anything from ten minutes to... to years.
Jonathan: "And how it... Does it take longer now that you’ve been together for a while? Or has it become easier?
Thom: "(long pause) Um... It can take longer because like we’re... because the things mutate a lot. I mean they start something utterly unrecognizable for me from where we end up. Um and that’s the stuff I like the most. But also it’s a relief sometimes just to bash something out .
Thom: "Um cuz then you’re not aware of it, you get to the end and go “how did that happen?”
Jonathan: "There seems to be quite an interesting chance of music cause there’s a lot of, well you guys are doing well, which I think is... you’re still clearly trying to stretch yourself in some ways and you’re doing stuff which is challenging and stimulating and... There seems to be a real movement at the moment towards kind of the retro styling in rock. You know, people going back and doing stuff in the spirit of seventy-eight. You know, you’ve got The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Electric Sixties, these kind of bands.
Thom: "Uh ok.
Jonathan: "But there must be a certain joy, and the White Stripes even to an extent.
Jonathan: "Who do stuff which is quite straight forward and quite... Are you tempted to do that sort of thing, to just go in and knock an album off in like a week? Would you-
Thom: "Well, I mean, the point about that is is what you have is you’ve got uh people that sort of able to sort set up and play together and create a sound in a live situation and I mean, I imagine, with the White Stripes... that’s what they do.
Thom: "This is what they’re good at, and so the best way to put that down on tape is just to do it um in the traditional style because that‘s where it fits.
Jonathan: "So, you’re essentially catching the band at its best by doing that.
Thom: "Yeah, I mean, which is cool and um but the trouble is that we aren’t interested in just doing that. I mean, cuz, there’s just a lot... for us there’s just a lot more out there and we’re much more schizo and we don’t have the attention span to do that sort of thing really. We barely have it for one track to see something like that through. Always got to try something else sort of thing.
Jonathan: "But there is a distinct sound like that, there’s a distinct Radiohead sound. I mean I would think (unintelligible)
Thom: "I think that’s, yeah, but I think that’s... I hope so, but I never really know. I think that happens despite ourselves and we work from the premises... There’s five of us and Nigel (Godrich) and we got limits to how far we can go. So, that’s what the sound is.
Jonathan: "Do you always work, this is Nigel Godrich, the producer.
Jonathan: "He looks at me like a playboy when I’m in there. Yeah.
Thom: "Hey, now let’s not get down there. You should ring him up.
Jonathan: "(chuckle) Now, the rest of you are kind of earthy and you kinda...
Thom: "(mockingly) It’s like a playboy!
Jonathan: "He looked a bit... you know, he looked a bit like eurotrash.
Jonathan: "He had that kinda look about him and I thought... oh I don’t know if he fits in.
Thom: "(deep laugh) We’re all secretly playboys.
Jonathan: "(laughs) You’ve got yachts and everything going on. Leggy blondes and (???)
Thom: "We don’t want to do the record, but we’re so desperate for the glamour, couldn’t really find much unfortunately.
Jonathan: "How long have you been together now? It’s been about... since school days. Okay. And you’re what, early thirties now?
Thom: "Thirty... four.
Jonathan: "Ok , so that about what that’s...
(? Somebody else?): Eighteen years, it looks like.
Jonathan: "A long time.
Thom: "(laughs) Yeah. That’s a long time.
Jonathan: "Have there been periods, and I’m amazed that that you’re still together, you’re still the same group you’ve always been. It’s always been that five, innit?
Thom: "Yeah. Oh yeah. We did have some sax players at one point.
Jonathan: "But they weren’t prop- You don’t count brass as proper band member, do you?
Thom: "(funny high-pitched laugh here)
Jonathan: "We don’t use that when you have a violinist in, you know. They know the score.
Thom: "Yeah, that’s fine, but I mean, you know.
Jonathan: "Yeah, it’s great for a tour but they know the score. Back to the old jazz orchestra afterwards. But have there been times where you’ve rowed? When there’s been a danger of you falling out? Have there been periods where you’ve been tugging in different directions? Or has it always been kind of all of you pulling in the same way?
Thom: "No, there’s periods where um when things have got sort of out of control. Like in Ok Computer and at the end of Pablo Honey where things get out of control and you find yourself in situations where you didn’t want to get into. Like um touring or in the, you know in, just in a situation you feel uncomfortable with. If you have a series of those, people start shutting down. Not talking to each other and things just get a bit heavy and blah blah blah and it takes a long time to get recovered from that, you know what I mean? Cause you lose your trust in why on Earth you decided to do this. So what we try and do now is preempt that. Not get ourselves into those situations, you know what I mean?
Jonathan: "So communication is the key then?
Thom: "I guess so, yeah.
Jonathan: "So it’s just like a wedding, a relationship. Like a marriage, really.
Thom: "Horribly like that.
Jonathan: "Yeah, you don’t, you aren’t, you’re not all...
Jonathan: "(whistles in a twirling sound, then makes a splattering noise) together on the road. You’ve all got the ladies.
Thom: "You’re the one with the pink shirt, mate, not me.
Jonathan: "You’re married, aren’t you?
Thom: "Er, no.
Jonathan: "And well, you have a baby.
Thom: "Uh, yeah.
Jonathan: "Well, you should get married. What’s wrong with you?
Thom: "Well, you know.
Jonathan: "C’mon let’s get this fella back in wedlock. C’mon, let’s lead the way.
Thom: "I’ve been with my lady for a very long time.
Jonathan: "I didn’t know you had- I only read that this morning cause I don’t know that much about you. I’ve always liked your music and never read that much about you cause you don’t give that many interviews. I know you don’t give that many interviews. But you have a little boy called Noah, is that right?
Thom: "Yeah, that’s right.
Jonathan: "How lovely. How old is he now?
Thom: "He’s um he’s two months and (long silence) uh two months- Sorry, two years four months.
Jonathan: "Two years, four months, okay. That’s a lovely age.
Thom: "Yeah it is pretty good actually.
Jonathan: "So he’s walking around, he’s talking.
Thom: "Telling you what to do, yeah.
Jonathan: "Will you have any more, you think?
Thom: "I don’t know.
Jonathan: "Yeah, but it’s quite nice having one, I guess.
Jonathan: "It’s always you don’t know whether to go and have more after that. I’ve had three babies so far. My wife was an only child and she loved that experience. But, I come from a big family, so I talked to her and everything like that. What do you think about, what do you think he’s gonna be when he grows up? What sort if talents does he show at this early age?
Thom: "Um he’s a pretty good painter. (laughs)
Jonathan: "Well, we’re not gonna hold you to this kinda thing- cause he’s only two and a half. We’re not gonna complain if he doesn’t.
Thom: "Uh, he’s a pretty good painter and we do this drum machine thing where he sits on my shoulders and I start a rhythm and he follows it then I keep going.
Jonathan: "Like a human beat box.
Thom: "Yeah, that’s us. We’re all very talented like that.
Jonathan: "Has he inspired any of the songs? I mean has being a father made you want to write about that experience?
Thom: "Um, well this is all very personal.
Jonathan: "No, well, I’m just curious (unintelligible)
Thom: "No, it’s fine, no.
Jonathan: "cause Liam Gallager was inspired by his son, as well, so... I’m not comparing you to any of that, but you know.
Thom: "Well, yeah, there’s Sail to the Moon.
Jonathan: "But there’s a big change- which was the song?
Thom: "Sail to the Moon. I mean, I sort of- I am denied about whether to sort of say, oh yeah, that is- that it is. It was written sort of actually before he turned up as well. And I was just sort of in the midst of first dad terrors.
Jonathan: "Yeah, you get all that panic in the middle of the night.
Thom: "Of course. Yeah.
Jonathan: "I can’t believe they let us take em off at the hospital on their own. Now, what do you listen to at the moment? What kind of bands do you like right now? Are there any contemporary bands? Current bands?
Thom: "I’m not listening to many bands. I’m um, there’s some friends of ours, some managers who run a record shop and they sent me some stuff on this Berlin label. Um and this has got Modeselektor, B Pitch Control. Which is all pretty obscure. Um and then ah (?Black Hues?) is pretty cool.
Jonathan: "Do you like (?Cale?)?
Thom: "Yes, oh yes.
Jonathan: "I’ve recently rediscovered (?Cale?) and I think I might fit that on the listener.
Thom: "You can sort of keep cycling your rediscovery. You’ve got Few Todays.
Jonathan: "I do have Few Todays. That’s a great album. You’ve got to get the (?Cale?) back on. Are you a roxie music fan?
Jonathan: "The other day, I was watching TV and I knew you were coming on today. A couple minutes before, there was a riff and I recognized that. It was from Amazona from the strain-
Jonathan: "What? Oh wow that was great. That was Phil (?Mezonower?) at his best
Thom: "Absolutely. And drumming as well.
Jonathan: "So let’s play that now. Let’s enjoy this. It’s gonna take us back to when we were all young. Some of us more than others.
Thom: "And then Thom’s gonna play live after that.
Jonathan: "Yeah, of course, I forgot you‘re playing live. Should we do that first?
(Stage manager or something): No, no do this now and then Thom plays.
Thom: "This is all very well organized.
Jonathan: "Thom’s going to play for us live now. This is Thom Yorke from Radiohead, of course. Thom, what are you going to play for us?
Thom: "I’m actually gonna to do that song Sail to the Moon.
Jonathan: "Oh, wonderful. That’s so nice. We’ve kinda set it up inadvertently.
Thom: "Yeah, it’s all scripted.
Jonathan: "Did you plan on doing this before you came in or did you just change your mind?
Thom: "Oh, yeah, I was going to do this.
Jonathan: "So you can do... But could you, if I were to say you do something else now, not that I want you to, could you... They all stored upstairs in you head? Or do you practice in advance?
Thom: "There might be a limit.
Jonathan: "Yeah, but most of the stuff...
Thom: "Yeah, it’s a bit of a struggle.
Jonathan: "I know, it’s a (?crackonow?) isn’t it? If you need a hand, by the way, my guitarist guy, the teacher, he can give you the breakdown of the chords.
Thom: "Is he here?
Jonathan: "He’s not here, but he’s a lovely bloke, Phil. Um alright, well, uh, let’s take it away then. Shall I give you any introduction for this or are you ready to go?
Thom: "Uh, yeah. Whatever. Well, what sort of introduction did you have in mind? We’re running out of time.
Jonathan: "(in a fast announcer’s voice) Ladies and gentlemen, coming to you live from the BBC studio here in the heart of throbbing London, I now welcome you one of the most famous miserablests of modern rock (???) recently decided to cheer himself up somewhat. He’s playing now, a beautiful song inspired by the birth of his first child, Noah.
Thom: "(laughs) That’s enough, innit?
Jonathan: "(gasps) Thom Yorke.
(Thom plays Sail to the Moon)
Jonathan: "That was rubbish.
(laughter all around)
Jonathan: "That sounded fantastic.
Thom: "Thanks, man.
Jonathan: "Well, what were you look at the word at the end for you.
Thom: "Well, you got thirty seconds.
Jonathan: "At the wall. Well, he’s not gonna stretch out the sound there. Keep going up and up the piano. I mean, ting-ting-ting-ting. Well, that was fantastic. Thank you so much. It sounded great, didn’t it? Wow, and I just watching you play there, so nice for you to play that out there, it must be.
Thom: "Yeah, it is.
Jonathan: "Well, I know you don’t need it, but good luck with your album, good luck with life in general. Good luck with fatherhood. Good luck with the dressing.
Thom: "(laughs) You can’t talk.
Jonathan: "Well, you’re dressed like a hobbit today. And good luck with your producer. I think frankly, you know... You’re probably gonna need him.