Main Index >> Media Index >> Hail to the Thief Media | UK Media | 2003 Interviews

[recording starts here]

Part 1:

Announcer: From the BBC. The 6 Music Selector with Radiohead.

Tom Robinson: "It’s a tinsel-free Christmas Eve here on Leading Sequence. All the music you’re going to hear for the next hour will be chosen by my guest Thom Yorke. Coming up: John Spencer: Blues Explosion.

A: From the BBC: This is 6 Music.

Tom: "Jon Spencer: Blues Explosion: Two Kinds of Love. Chosen by Thom Yorke. Thom, welcome.

Thom: "Hello there!

Tom: "Good to have you back.

Thom: "It’s Christmas Eve.

Tom: "It’s Christmas Eve. How’s your year been?

Thom: "Ah... long. (Laughs). It’s been a long year.

Tom: "But you got there?

Thom: "Yeah we got there. Yeah. Didn’t think we would at points. It’s been a... a long period of touring. A lot of sort of... for some reason a bit of a mind-bending experience. Lots of... sort of shows that were... enormous shows. Lots of pressure. Choosing to put oneself under... But actually kind of worth it... in the end.

Tom: "You’ve got a period of family life coming up?

Thom: "Yeah. Which is good. I’m definitely down with that.

Tom: "Definitely good. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Why... why we’ve opened with that?

Thom: "Ah it’s just um... you know they’re able to do stuff in the studio it’s just um... they can record stuff and make it so exciting. Ah... I don’t know how they do it. I don’t know how they get all their energy... from. I’m so jealous of just.... The violence and the energy they can produce... with so little. Um... I’ve been into most of their albums and the Orange record. Um...they’re genius.

Tom: "I was kind of curious as to what kind of stuff you’ve come up with for this hour. Because um... one of the critiques that I’ve... read—admittedly not written by anyone in the band—but... but um...postulated that you and Jonny have an ongoing jihad against meat and potatoes rock ‘n’ roll. Is that actually anywhere near the truth?

Thom: "Nothing... nothing like. I mean... eh... it’s sort of... we we we kind of have a problem with the wordy side... side of...of it. The whole wordy attitude. Like don’t mean it unless you’ve got... um... electric guitar... or whatever. Um... but that... We have a problem. We’ve always had a problem with that.... But... but that’s the whole band. Um... and ...and to be perfectly honest we kind of listen to more hip-hop than we do... guitar rock. But... you know the sensation of plugging a guitar in and doing that, making that noise is still just as much fun as it always was. I mean, I think it’s just um uh it’s a gradual process of getting rid... rid of the baggage of of I mean... you know... we’ve been going sort of... in a way for quite a while now. And um...we’ve done a lot... a lot of things we’ve done it’s just been rock music. And and... it’s kind of... that was never our intention... just to end up doing that. And going round and round in ever decreasing circles. But at the same time—you know, especially when you go out and play live—it’s it’s great fun.

Tom: "So I can imagine that, you know? There’s always the danger, there’s that preconception people imagine you listen to the same kind of music that you make. Where is that... in my experience it’s far from the truth...

Thom: "I think that’s extremely unhealthy. I mean, you get... you know... if you’re insecure uh... you end up uh...feeling that that whatever you’re listening to is automatically better than what you’re producing. So it can eat you up and...You know, I’ve gone through phases of that, really. But then constructive things come out of that, you know? I mean, I buried myself in electronic music for two years and refused to listen to any rock music, really. Except, to be honest, Jon Spencer was one of the few and um Polly Harvey is one of the others, Um... and and ... you know, I buried myself in that because I really had had a... I now had a problem with everything I produced but that was to do with other things... it was nothing to do with the music. But I think I think you know, a lot of the time—cer-certainly when you start out as a band—wherever you are basically the sum total of your influences. And then you learn to absorb things in in another way, in a different way.

Tom: "I’m interested that you’re listening to a lot of hip-hop because... that does seem to be a place... one of the places where people still are trying to push the envelope and... and do stuff that hasn’t been done before. Have you got a hip-hop track for us in this set?

Thom: "Yeah. This is the... I mean the... me and Colin are real Madlib freaks and um... And I’ve got an old... old surfing friend as well who turned me onto Madlib. But initially Quasimoto records.

Tom: "Can you tell us about Madlib? Because...

Thom: "I don’t know that much about him. He’s from California. Um... He’s been going a while. He does... he does like... blue note cuts which are really strange. He was given um... access to the vaults of Blue Note and was able to cut up uh two tracks of original sessions... that sort of thing. Um... he cuts things up in a really loose way,.. uh... Um... it seems... it it Colin describes it um... you know, loose... loose beat or whatever. He cuts things up and he doesn’t... he doesn’t cut them up by beat. What’s really frustrating about a lot of um... modern hip-hop is is that um... it’s like... it cuts things up literally beat-by-beat because it’s really easy to do ‘cause there’s lots of software that’ll do it for you now. But actually the best thing to do is to cut up whole sections of a drum rhythm...

Tom: "Yeah, so you’ve got the beats...

Thom: "Yeah, because then you got this tension between what you’ve chosen to select and what the drummer was intending initially and the energy of the drumming initially. So this is a big obsession for me at the moment. And Madlib is the best, um, I think, around since... in terms of cutting the beats up, that I’ve heard for ages.

[Madlib song played]

Tom: "Oh! This is...?

Thom: "And that’s...that’s from Lootpack, Madlib record. ‘Whenimondamic / B-Boy Theme’.

Tom: "B-Boy Theme being a beat boy?

Thom: "(exasperated) I don’t know.

Tom: "... the sound he makes...

Thom: "Yeah, Soundpieces: Da Antidote! the record’s called.

Tom: "So... what else have you got in the way of hip-hop that... that’s sort of...

Thom: "There’s a bunch of just stuff that Colin keeps playing and I’m losing track of it. I mean, I’m basically... um... I’m eating Madlib ah... in fact there’s another one we could play next which is a.... one he’s just done with a guy called Dudley Perkins.

Tom: "Well here we have 59 seconds... let’s

Thom: "yeah yeah. We’ve got a bit of a bare chance so... okay, this is called “Momma” and this is so strung out... This is such a mad idea for a song. Ah... and his vocals are just ooh hoo!

Thom: "There you go...


Thom: "That’s Dudley Perkins. with Madlib. And it’s from an album called A Lil’ Light that came out recently and that’s the thing... that sort of track is just sheer lunacy... part of it.

Tom: "Tupac Shakur is always going on about his mum... or addressing her, saying... you know... ‘Oh, mamma, I ain’t happy here, don’t shed a tear’ or...

Thom: "Oh, was he? Yeah, I’m kind a new to all this. That’s about the most strung out singing I’ve ever heard in my life.

Tom: "You’re listening to the Evening Sequence channel. Thom Yorke choosing, is choosing the music.

Thom: "I was just about to say, wasn’t I?

Tom: "Ah, it’s alright...

Thom: "It’s Christmas Eve. What more do you want?

Tom: "(Laughs). So where are we going next after this?

Thom: "Oh. Yeah. Now, where are we gonna go? We were gonna... oh, we were gonna go to Low... right at the bottom of the list. Now this is “Whitetail”. Low were on tour with us for quite a while... in Europe. And they’re great people and so not rock ‘n’ roll at all.

Tom: "In what way?

Thom: "In every way you could possibly imagine!

Tom: "Give me an example.

Thom: "They’re from Salt Lake. Around near Salt Lake. And they’re Mormons. They are? Yeah, they’re Mormons. I think they’re Mormons. I’m gonna get in trouble if I’ve got that wrong. They’re very un-rock ‘n’ roll. Which I really like, obviously. And they did some blimey shows in Europe and a... When we went to the US they said so many sweet things like... because we were really scared about going to the US this year. You know, with the record and the whole climate out there. Well, I was anyway...

Tom: "Especially the album title...

Thom: "Yeah. And he said ‘say whatever you wanna say. You know, say what you think and you’ll be surprised when you get out there everyone will be like... you know, you’ll be surprised, everyone’s saying it, it’s just not getting coverage because of the media’. So he was right. And in their own way, they’re an incredibly radical band, Low, I think, personally. And they really struggle but everyone’s struggling at the moment because of ? And this is such an absolutely bonkers record. Just vast expanses with so little. Like this one for example, which is called “Whitetail”.

Tom: "That’s “Whitetail” by Low. You’re listening to the Christmas Evening Sequence. Ooh, a tinsel-free...

Thom: "... tinsel-free! (Laughs)

Tom: "(Laughs) I’m Tom Robinson. My guest is Thom Yorke.

Thom: "Hi.

Tom: "So, do you... while that record was on we’ve heard they are actually from Salt Lake City.

Thom: "Yeah, they are.

Tom: "And they are Mormons so there’s no libel involved there. Did you... you played there didn’t you?

Thom: "We played there. We had a really good... Salt Lake City we had a... it was actually probably one of the best shows on the tour. We had a day off in Salt Lake City. It was very nice, very calm. Everyone was very friendly.... and the audience were just uh... very open. It was a... it was... I met some very, very foxy ladies in Salt Lake City. (Laughs). There were some hot ladies there. God! Which was really quite mind-bending if you thought about it too hard. But um... but yeah, it was really nice. It was a good tour anyway.

Tom: "Yeah, ‘cause when we last spoke you were about to go off and kind of brave the perils of the road. And also, a bit of a ‘red rag the bull’ in terms of the title of the album, Hail to the Thief. And, whether or not you intended it as a direct reference to... our glorious president... it must’ve caused some reactions...

Thom: "Um... it it... I mean, it it funny thing is it really, it barely ever came up. Because what what... it’s a really difficult thing to um... appreciate but... um, I think the way the way that America—we’re kind of banging ourselves—the way that America is portrayed back in Europe now, especially thanks to the filter of the right-wing media here, in the US, is it’s a place of of, you know, ignorance and fear. It’s absolutely the opposite, and always has been. Um, um, you know... uh, and... it’s sort of... it was... it... I kind of felt quite ashamed of actually being worried about it as an issue. You know, in a way, the fact that Colin wasn’t at all bothered about it made it okay, you know? Um... ‘cause Colin has a... an American wife and uh... it just seemed, it just seemed really silly to even have got upset about it ‘cause when we went out there it was so much, you know, the resistance to what is going on within the the... in the administration... and foreign policy and... everything, you know... the war and everything... it’s so huge! Um... and it’s radicalized the whole country. Uh... it’s split it basically down the middle. Um, but you’d think none of it’s going on because it’s all filtered through the media, the mainstream.

Tom: "It’s not reported...

Thom: "No. Not really. I mean, go on the net, it’s everywhere! Um, but, but... anyway, it’s a strange atmosphere but actually one of... there’s quite a lot of hope out there, I think. It’s not as it seems from over here because people are so angry... the most angry they’ve ever been... in the U.S.

Tom: "Now, talking of angry that ties very neatly onto next track.

Thom: "(unintelligible)

Tom: "Mr. Angry himself, Mark E. Smith.

Thom: "Yeah.

Tom: "I understand he’s just recently fired the umpteenth line-up of The Fall.

Thom: "I think... Made the best records for ten years and then fired everybody... well done! Ah... that’s the way to do it. Um... but actually this is from... that is a sterling record, but this is like, my favourite one of recent years, and this is “Shake-Off”; it’s from The Marshall Suite. It’s just... you know... It should have been played everywhere all the time. This is like... this is The Fall doing disco, as far as I’m concerned.

Part 2:

Tom: "From the 1969 album Contact that’s Silver Apples with “Ruby”. And before that, you heard The Fall, from The Marshall Suite--1999 thereabouts--“Shake-Off”, both chosen by Thom Yorke...

Thom: "Hi!

Tom: "... this hour...

Thom: "Hi!

Tom: "So, what can you tell us about Silver Apples. I know nothing.

Thom: "I know virtually nothing. Um... we had an after-show at Earl’s Court a few weeks ago, in London’s Earl’s Court and um, Kieran from Four Tet DJ’d um... as well as um... uh one of the guys from ADF and uh... Kieran um... when I came in they were playing the Silver Apples track and I kind of thought it was an outtake from Remain in Light from the distance. But uh, you know, it’s a completely deranged record. I mean, it’s the... But the drumming on it... It‘s kinda similar to Can in the sense that the drummer is the leader of the band and there seems to be someone asleep over the keyboards. But like Stereolab, who I think were quite influenced by Silver Apples. And that is the extent of my knowledge. That’s it.

Tom: "And thirty years separating those records.

Thom: "Um, yes.

Tom: "It’s very strange. Some records sound more modern... than modern records... when you hear ?

Thom: "I know. Yeah, it’s very pecu-... I mean, the style of playing, the style of the drumming is like... you know, that’s the sort of thing that all the hip hop boys have been desperately trying to cut up.

Tom: "I remember early Roxy Music... “Virginia Plain” ...

Thom: "Yeah...

Tom: "... sounds kind of newer and fresher than a lot of the stuff that’s actually happened...

Thom: "I know. A lot of it is the rhythmic side of it, I think, as well... a lot of it. Fun thing, I’m not sure.

Tom: "The place where rhythm is sort of getting pushed, in my view, on the envelope, does seem to be in America, in Black America, in urban America in particular...

Thom: "Yeah.

Tom: "... at the moment. I mean, Missy Elliot is doing some deranges. Mind you, Dizzee Rascal’s doing some... very weird stuff here...

Thom: "Yeah.

Tom: "Did you care, did you care for that when it came out?

Thom: "Um, I don’t, I don’t really know it. I mean, I... I haven’t really heard it so I don’t... I mean,.. I’m averse to anybody being thrown at me in that way. I kind of feel sorry for them, you know. It’s like,‘Oh, it’s the new this or the new that’... He’s obviously got something but I haven’t really heard enough to sort of judge. I mean, whereas Missy Elliott is like... I think it’s just so amazing, you know? It’s just uh... it makes me want to spit. (Laughs)

Tom: "I mean... It’s just, it’s just... just insane. Every second bar she does... something new, something different...

Thom: "Yeah.

Tom: "But we do get a lot of listeners who object to it, to be honest...

Thom: "What?!

Tom: "... Yeah. Some people actually...

Thom: "It’s that guitar thing again, isn’t it? Isn’t it, Gordon? You’ve got to admit it, Admit it! Where’s the guitars?

Tom: "People love the guitars, don’t they?

Thom: "Yeah.

Tom: "Mind you, the... Outkast, with “Hey Ya”, has been the most played record on this station, I mean, over the last three months. It’s just because it was part of a double A-side, and then we play it as a single and its own right as well. And it is... terrifically popular. There’s no hard and fast rules...

Thom: "No, there isn’t, but it does have an acoustic guitar on it.

Tom: "(Laughs). Well...

Thom: "(Laughs). No, but it’s like... yeah... (Laughs).

Tom: "Q.E.D.

Thom: "No, no. That is... ace tune. I remember when we were in the States, um... they were playing the other side and... every... we kept going to all these stations and... and saying, ‘Have you heard “Hey Ya”? And it’s sort of like, ‘Um, I think so... I don’t think we’ve played it.’ ‘How come you... this is like, this is obviously number one, all around the world. Doh. This is like “When Doves Cry” when it came out. So if you don’t get this then you are stupid!’

Tom: "So, given that we’ve played it to death on this station, I don’t think there’s any point in using up your hour by playing...

Thom: "No.

Tom: "... playing that track... That would be silly. But you’ve got a substitute...

Thom: "Yeah...

Tom: "... for us.

Thom: "Yeah. Felix da Housecat. I mean, I think a lot of people know this. I mean, uh...

Tom: "I’m afraid I’m one of the few...

Thom: "No, no. I mean...

Tom: "... I’m one of the few that don’t...

Thom: "I mean, I... uh, uh... Uh, the first time... I... I bought it uh... a week after I went ‘round to Beck’s house and he was playing it to death and it was like... ‘Shit... what’s this?’ And it sounded sort of like he’d found it... it sort of has some vintage thing about it, but not really. And it’s just really trashy and... All the artists that worked on it, uh... you know... they’ve all got... they’ve all got something. This kitten is... is obviously genius. Anyway... It’s a very, very good record and... Felix has been going a long time and all his stuff is pretty good, now I’m discovering. But this is, this is the number one that should’ve been absolutely everywhere... all around the world, but wasn’t.

Tom: "You’re listening to 6 Music. This is the Evening Sequence. I’m Tom Robinson. This is Thom Yorke. That’s Felix da Housecat with “Madame Hollywood”.

Thom: "(Applauds). Weeeee! I’m not supposed to say ‘Merry Christmas’. It’s tinsel-free.

Tom: "Well, you can say ‘Merry Christmas’. You can play a Christmas track if you want to. It’s just... everywhere else everyone’s probably listening tonight it’s gonna be a bit a little bit Christmas-y and...

Thom: "Yeah...

Tom: "And Dickens-y and snow-ridden and reindeer.

Thom: "I don’t like Christmas.

Tom: "Sleigh bells everywhere...

Thom: "Yeah now... I’m not... I’m definitely up with this banning Christmas uh... music in shops... thing. ?

Tom: "Which Radiohead track we could put sleigh bells over as an overdub and make it into a Christmas song?

Thom: "We did... we did that! We did that on “Airbag”! I... we al-... we almost finished the track and um... I was just... I was sitting a little worse... I was sitting there a little worse for wear and going ‘It needs sleigh bells’. (Laughs)

Tom: "(Laughs)

Thom: "(Laughs) And everyone in the room was going ‘Oh, God!’ And uh... I mean, their kind of screwed-up-sounding sleigh bells, but they’re sleigh bells, and they were going ‘Okay! We’ll try the sleigh bells!’ And it sounds good.

(“Airbag” played)

Tom: "It’s true. Sleigh bells rule.

Thom: "(Laughs)

Tom: "“Airbag” there from OK Computer.

Thom: "Merry Christmas! Oops!

Tom: "Merry Christmas from Thom Yorke. Oops! (Laughs) You’ve got some long tracks here.

Thom: "Yes.

Tom: "Why do people make tracks that like... take seven minutes to say something?

Thom: "Um, or in this case, eleven... the next one, eleven minutes thirty. Um, I don’t know... Either you’ve got a lot of time on your hands? If it’s unbelievably loud... on a good stereo. Um... eh... in-in-in... in this case, with um... with what we’re going to play next, you have to have a completely darkened room, um...

Tom: "It’s described in the old music guide as ‘baffling beat-damaged digital concrete’. Is that anywhere near the mark?

Thom: "Um, no. I think it’s, Sean, Sean ? calls it ‘modern folk music’, which I think is nearer the truth. And now, and now they are...

Tom: "Before we get too lost let’s just say we’re talking about Autechre here...

Thom: "Oh yeah...

Tom: "A-U-T-E-C-H-R-E.

Thom: "Okay. This is yeah... Autechre. Um.. ? And these guys, they are cutting edge, man. They... they just wipe the floor... absolutely everybody... Which means, in the process they produce the most extreme things. Um... but, I mean... to be honest, I think it’s one of those things, it’s like... when Miles Davis went ? in the seventies, it’s got a feel like that. I think people will look back in a few years... You know, take bits and bops from it but... um... it never loses its shock value. So, I mean... to be honest it... it ranges... The one I’ve chosen is uh... it’s a fairly mellow... but if you sort of listen carefully it’s not a normal beat and... things are changing throughout and... they’re kind of random. And what, what they do is they let computers think for themselves, which is... a truly scary thought. But that’s what you do when you ?

Tom: "So we go with their very latest album, Draft 7.30. I’m not sure how you’re supposed to pronounce this track...

Thom: "I think they jump up and down on the ?

Tom: "(Laughs) The title is certainly as extreme as the music. This one’s called “Surriperre”.

(“Surriperre” plays)

Tom: "If you listen very carefully, in the background you can hear the sleigh bells on that one. (Laughs)

Thom: "(Laughs)

Tom: "That’s Autechre with “Surriperre”. S-U-R-R-I-P-E-R-E... it could be ‘surrogate father’ in French, couldn’t it? Surri-pere, or something maybe.

Thom: "I think maybe, you’re thinking too hard about that.

Tom: "Yep. Okay.

Thom: "(Laughs)

Tom: "Anyway, you can find it on the album Draft 7.30, whatever that means. Have you, have you made their acquaintance?

Thom: "I, I have. Um... on and off. I sent them a grovelling fan letter once and... asking them to come on tour and they kind of... I mean, they... I mean...

Tom: "It’s not every day you get an invitation to come on tour with um... Radiohead.

Thom: "No. To be fair, I would be, you know... I... they barely knew who we were... to their credit. And uh... he was like, ‘to be honest, we don’t think people will get it’. (Laughs) And uh, I mean, you know... This was during the tent tour with Kid A and um... I think it might’ve freaked people out, but I mean, I was kind of... I, I think... it was a bit of a shame. But a lot of their, a lot of their frequencies and stuff are really, really loud. It’s truly terrifying. Some of the stuff they do is just scary. So...

Tom: "And that’s about as close as they get to easy listening...

Thom: "That... that is positively easy listening. That is the most acceptable thing I’ve ever heard... of their...

Tom: "I do appreciate you taking the effort to...

Thom: "Yeah...

Tom: "(Laughs)

Thom: "Never mind... (Laughs)

Tom: "Well, I reckon we should have one more really long track to... to finish up our hour...

Thom: "Yeah...

Tom: "What’s the opposite extreme you can go to?

Thom: "I would say Bob Dylan. Yes.

Tom: "Yes! I mean, there are some people who... who find the sound of his voice almost as irritating...

Thom: "That... that’s good. (Laughs)

Tom: "... cause it’s so... I remember when he did come out. I was thirteen or something, when the first Bob Dylan ‘hit the airwaves’ and... people didn’t get it. There was this voice that sounded like a very old singing through his nose, and it was a 22-year-old. (Tom sings ‘We were in peace’ imitating Bob Dylan’s vocals) and he hasn’t really stopped, to give him credit. He’s carried on doing those things.

Thom: "Yeah. And um... and that’s folk music too...

Tom: "It is.

Thom: "... just like Autechre... (Laughs)

Tom: "So now... what have you chosen out of Bob Dylan’s vast canon.

Thom: "Um...uh... “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands”. I’d try to say it like him but there’d be no point. why this one? Because this one’s my absolute favourite Bob Dylan track and every time I hear it... it sucks me into this crazy place. And it’s the most angry love song I’ve ever heard. And also... we haven’t got much time so maybe we should just play it.

Tom: "Well, I should certainly thank you, Thom Yorke, for coming into this last minute.

Thom: "Oh, I thought I was just going to ? it now. (Laughs)

Tom: "(Laughs) Now thank you very much for coming in... spending...

Thom: "Thank you, Tom, for letting me.

Tom: "Come... come back and do it again some time soon.

Thom: "Yeah. More than an hour would be good.

Tom: "Come do the whole programme, you know? What the hell?

Thom: "(Laughs)

Tom: "(Laughs) Go for broke! Anyway, a very merry... uh... sleigh bell-filled Christmas.

Thom: "And you...

Tom: "Enjoy your time off, as well.

Thom: "...and to everyone else as well.

Tom: "“Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands”.

Thom: "See, you try to do it... (Laughs)

Tom: "Somebody had to.

Thom: "(Laughs)

(“Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” by Bob Dylan plays)

Tom: "You’re listening to 6 Music Leading Sequence. “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands”, picked by my guest this last hour, Thom Yorke. Thank you to Thom for coming in. I’m Tom Robinson. Time for the news.

[recording ends]