BBC Radio 1 'Edith Bowman', december 3rd - 7th 2007
[Interview with Ed]
This is a transcript from audio recordings of the five radio broadcasts.
[Part 1 recording starts]
Edith: "And as I mentioned earlier, on Friday Ed from the band popped in and we had a really nice chat. We’re gonna play you a segment of the interview every day this week. As Richard, who works on the show, says... how did you describe yourself?
[off] Richard: Casual fan!
Edith: "He’s a ‘casual Radiohead fan’, so he’s not an ‘uber-fan’, and you were fascinated by the interview. There was a lot of stuff in there that you learned about the band and things like that, so it’s gonna be every day this week. Just before we play you the track, we’ll play you a little clip from the interview. The first thing I chatted to Ed about was obviously the whole idea about the album and why they decided to release In Rainbows like that.
Ed: "We wanted to get it out quickly.
Ed: "That’s the initial thing, and we also... there was this whole discussion about music. Now there’s a whole generation of people out there who don’t actually pay for their music.
Ed: "And rightly or wrongly – I’m not being judgemental about it, it’s just that’s the way it is or whatever. So we wanted to bring that whole thing into it, as well. So the naming of the ‘pay what you want’ as an idea – that came from our managers. The whole idea came from the management and they... basically, there was a restaurant, apparently, in Manhattan, where you have the meal and you ask for the bill and they say well how much do you think it’s worth.
Ed: "Yeah, which is a great idea. The difference is, of course, at the restaurant you can see the whites of their eyes.
Edith: "Yeah [laughs]
Ed: "Online, people can do runners!
Ed: "It was that, and also: our records are being leaked a lot. Every record since OK Computer has been leaked, and Thom’s record, The Eraser, was leaked way up front. So we wanted to just try and avoid that.
Ed: "And we were out of contract so it all kind of... the stars are in alignment!
[Part 1 recording ends]
[Part 2 recording starts]
Edith: "Now, all week we’re hearing from Ed from the band. Yesterday we heard about the whole idea about why he wanted to release the album digitally earlier on this year. Today, I kind of wanted to know about how do Radiohead sit down and write a song?
Ed: "What usually happens is that Thom has a series of songs, and they can be either fully formed or very sketchy, and we go back into our rehearsal studio, which is the same one that we’ve been in since The Bends. It’s a converted...
Ed: "...well, it’s not... it’s an apple storage shed. It’s like a metal box.
Ed: "We go in there and make a racket, and then go into the studio. We’ve got our own studio now, so we work stuff out there. It sort of evolves like that, but it just takes time. The thing is –we’ve all had families. We’ve all got young families and it’s not like you can give the amount... you can’t give the amount of time you normally have given in the past. It just has taken longer – and we took a year off – so starting again, it’s like you’ve got to build up the momentum, the inertia. You’ve got to get to know one another again and all that stuff. It’s kind of a bit like a big stew.
Edith: "A bit like a school reunion, in a way, is it? A bit like...
Ed: "Yeah. Well, school plays a big part in this band, as well, because we formed at school.
Ed: "That’s one of the strengths of it, but one of the frustrating things about it is that it’ll always go back to 1985. There’ll always be certain structures that were set in stone then. You might be fighting it, but you know.
Edith: "Yeah! It’s in your blood!
Edith: "[laughs] What I love about this album is it’s a real amalgamation of the things that Radiohead do brilliantly. It’s the rock side, but also those incredible electronic influences, kind of married together on this album, I think. With the single... why did you pick this particular single to release and what’s... is there a story behind it?
Ed: " [laughs]
Edith: "Who picks the singles? Do you?
Ed: "Who picks the singles? Well, we don’t actually pick the singles.
Ed: "No, we kind of... unless we have a very strong opinion about it. What people play... I mean, nowadays it’s about what people play on the radio, I think, and so we’re probably not the best judges of that! So we leave that to our very good friends who help us out on that. Kevin does that.
Edith: "Kevin, who’s in the room. Hi, Kevin!
Ed: "Kevin does that for us.
Edith: "Merry Christmas!
Ed: "And our management, and basically get a feedback. This song was... it actually didn’t... it was actually the last song to make it on the album. We had 16 songs and it nearly didn’t make it onto the record! Ironically it’s the first single.
Ed: "I like this song because it’s Thom’s... Thom kept on saying, “it’s a Friday night record”. The whole thing about it is it’s like, you’re in the pub, it’s all kicking off, you’ve had a few drinks, it’s the end of the week, you’ve jut got paid.
Ed: "And this is what happens.
Edith: "You want to have a dance...
Ed: "Yeah, you wanna have a dance, you see a girl in the corner, you’ve had a few drinks, you smile... it’s a look. You know, all that stuff.
Ed: "I love this song. It’s a real Friday night! I kept on remembering what Friday nights were like! [laughs]
[‘Jigsaw Falling Into Place’ fades in]
[Part 2 recording ends]
[Part 3 recording starts]
Edith: "But when I spoke to Ed it was one thing I wanted to ask him about because I adore gigs, and it seems the best place for Radiohead, really.
Ed: "Nature and us goes well, you know, although they’re very urban gigs.
Ed: "I think we’re doing what... Victoria Park for London...
Edith: "Yeah, Glasgow Green.
Ed: "Glasgow Green...
Edith: "Manchester, Lancashire Cricket Grounds.
Ed: "Exactly, so they’re very urban! But you’ll get a sky, you know. There’re will be a sky and sunsets and all that stuff. I like going to outdoor gigs, but as long as they’re not kind of like stadiums. I’m not kind of fond of those ones, but the Glastonbury’s and the parks, if you will...
Edith: "Yeah. Warning you about Scotland though – doesn’t get that dark in the summer!
Edith: "Yeah! I remember Coldplay moaning about that, going “we spent a fortune on lights and it doesn’t get dark in Scotland!” [laughs]
Edith: "So just to warn you!
Edith: "You might want to think about that, as well. Festivals this summer, then? Have you got any confirmed? Glastonbury is the obvious question.
Ed: "Em... don’t know about Glastonbury. UK festivals and the other ones I don’t think so, ‘cause we’re gonna be over in America.
Ed: "But we’re gonna do some European! We’re doing Roskilde, I think is confirmed, and Hurricane and Southside. We did V a couple of years ago.
Edith: "It’s great.
Ed: "So we’re kind of like we’re festeeds. It’s time for our own shows.
Edith: "Yeah, yeah, definitely. How on earth do you pick a setlist?
Edith: "I was just... I mean, I can’t believe OK Computer is 10 years old!
Ed: "I know I know, it’s really... [sighs] what’s good is that we usually play two nights in a venue, so we can actually play different sets each night.
Ed: "So that’s cool. But we have... Phil, Thom and I do the setlists. Before a big gig the setlist meeting can go on for about three hours.
Edith: "It’s a bit like Bingo...
Ed: "Yeah, and it’ll start off like, you know, Thom will go “okay, tonight we’re not gonna play anything from OK Computer, we’re gonna play all the hard stuff”. And you get “okay, all right”. And then you have arguments; you say “don’t be stupid, of course you’ve got to play ‘Paranoid Android’!”
Ed: "“Don’t be ridiculous! 20,000 people!”
Edith: "“Do you want to leave the venue alive?!”
Ed: "Exactly! “Come on, these poor people have come all this way and you’re gonna play some obscure songs from a b-side?” There is actually an art to it. You want people to listen, and you want to push them a bit but you also want to reward them for listening.
Edith: "Yeah, yeah.
Ed: "It’s about dropping the songs at the right time. And also – it’s also about a flow. You want people to have those gigs when there is a sort of... the band and the audience, where you feel that anything is possible, and those ones where the tops of your heads come off and it’s like.. it’s almost religious! You’re trying to work towards that as well.
Edith: "Yeah. I suppose, as well, different venues in different parts of the world... you can tailor it to that for the evening. You know what the crowd are like.
Ed: "Scotland – you gotta play it fast!
Edith: "[laughs] They just want to have guitar!
Ed: "Yeah, man, they’re brilliant! I think it’s the best place to start a tour, if you’re feeling slightly insecure head up to Scotland and play a really sort of punky set.
Ed: "So yeah, they’re different places.
[Part 3 recording ends]
[Part 4 recording starts]
Edith: "The back catalogue of Radiohead’s material has been re-released on Monday, so if this is our first introduction to Radiohead and you’re like, “wow, I really like this!”, then you can go back and buy the albums. It was one thing I asked Ed when I spoke to him last week – if he was a fan, where would he start?
Ed: "I’d start with The Bends. Yeah. I think that would be the one. If you’re young, I think... and I haven’t heard that record for about five years, but I remember when I did it was like, I put it on in the car and it’s like “wow!”.
Edith: "“We’re pretty good!”
Ed: "Yeah, I mean... but also, there’s an energy there that we don’t have anymore and there was a real sort of bat to the wall. We knew, when we made that record, that people said we’ve got one song and that’s it, and they were kind of right if you took Pablo Honey on face value. But we had these songs and it’s like, “right”. We had a year and a half of honing these songs on the road.
Ed: "Yeah, I think that’s a good one to start with. And then, whichever one you want to pick up after that.
Ed: "I think chronologically they work quite well, as well! I think you definitely see a sort of movement towards... older men.
Edith: "[laughs] And fatherhood!
Ed: "Fatherhood, exactly.
Edith: "It just feels like... I dunno, you’ve got a new lease of life. Does it feel like that with the band, as well?
Ed: "Absolutely! We needed to make a record that was concise; we needed to make a record that moved people. When Thom came to start to work on this record, the first thing that we had, that I noticed, were these lyrics. These lyrics are about the human condition; they’re about the human spirit. It’s about perennial emotions. They’re things that people have felt through all ages, and I felt he was really connecting. It’s been a while that he’s done that, I think. And his vocal on The Eraser was very upfront, and it’s like “okay, haven’t heard him do that for a while”.
Ed: "So, yeah. We are; we’re really energised. We had a lot of working out in the last two and a half years, whether we wanted to carry on doing this. There’s no point carrying on if you’re just not feeling it.
Edith: "Wow, so the question did come up whether you would...?
Ed: "Oh yes, massively. In a way, I guess it’ll always continue to do so. I think that’s quite a good thing. It’s kind of like, “can we do this again?” It’s hard work doing it. It’s hard work making it. That’s what it is – it’s hard work making a record. You have to put a lot of time in. It’s very emotional... “are you willing to go there again?” And the way we’ve released it has given us a hugely lease of life. The download stuff was really exciting and it kind of freed us all up, and we’re doing webcasts at the moment, just having fun. We’re back in the studio playing songs, and we’re not playing our own songs. We’re playing cover versions...
Ed: "Yeah, and it’s been great.
Edith: "What covers have you been doing?
Ed: "We did ‘Headmaster Ritual’, [The] Smiths... we did a Björk track and I can’t remember the name of it. It’s off Homogenic. I’m really bad on these. We did ‘Ceremony’, New Order... we’re probably going to do a Siouxsie and the Banshees track next week. We’re going back into the studio...
Edith: "Are you gonna do these live?
Ed: "Who knows? Yeah, I mean...
Edith: "That’d be brilliant!
Ed: "It’d be great to be able to... ‘cause we used to do stuff... ‘Nobody Does It Better’, the Carley Simon song...
Ed: "We used to just occasionally drop these things, and it’s a really nice thing to do. But the important thing is just to keep playing, and also by playing other people’s songs you don’t have the pressure of trying to come up with your own thing. Every time we get together to do material, there seems to be new material, there seems to be incredible pressure to come up with a really good song!
Edith: "Yeah, cutting edge, that kind of thing.
Ed: "Yeah, and we just have to relax back into it. What we’re doing is just rediscovering the joy and the fun of doing it.
[Part 4 recording ends here]
[Part 5 recording starts]
Edith: "And we’ve also been hearing from Ed all week, which as been really nice. Everything from how he picks setlists to the moment where they considered not continuing as a band to outdoor gigs that they got planned for next June. Just kind of reflecting today with him on things he’s loved this year, music that he’s been really, really loving. And it just so happens that it’s one we might well have just played.
Ed: "This year I think the Kings of Leon record is just amazing. I went to see them live at Hammersmith. It was the Friday night gig and it just blew me away!
Edith: "[laughs] Yeah?
Ed: "Yeah, it was just incredible. There is lots of stuff. The Klaxons excite me. I don’t know them enough, I haven’t seen them live but I find that I have to go see these bands live. That’s when... it’s like, for me, I couldn’t... I mean, I’m a huge fan of Kings of Leon. I love the first two records, but I wasn’t feeling in the record. I saw it live and it was like, “it’s undeniable”. I go back and listen to it and it’s like “okay, I’ve totally go it”.
Ed: "So I’m a bit slow, I need to... you know...
Edith: "I think it’s right, I’ve had that as well with a lot of people. I remember Jamie T, listening to his stuff and not really getting it and then going live and going “ah, right, yeah!”
Edith: "And you listen to it in a completely different way, like you say.
Ed: "And often it was said about our first record, as well. I think it’s hard with debut records for bands to get it totally right, and they’re usually better live than they are on record. It was certainly the case with us! And that’s a good thing because you shouldn’t have all the answers on your first record.
Edith: "The album’s coming out physically on New Year’s Eve, 31st of December. What have you got planned for New Year’s Eve?
Ed: "I’ve no idea...
Edith: "[laughs] I quite find seeds like going against the grain and going to bed at half ten this year or something.
Ed: "I’ve done that the last two years! Small kids!
Ed: "Yeah, man, it’s just...
Edith: "There’s so much pressure on having a good time on New Year’s Eve, so d’you know what, I’m off to bed! Gonna watch the Hootenanny in bed!
Ed: "Yeah, I used to find New Year’s Eve really sad, as well. I was one of those morose New Year’s Eve. I wasn’t a good New Year’s Eve, I wasn’t like “wee!” I was more like “I think about the previous year, and all the things and all the people I’d known”. All that stuff! When it came to midnight I would traditionally always go and find a quiet space, and everyone was giving an ‘Old Langs Eye’ and I was like being a little pensive, yeah.
Edith: "Well, happy New Year when it comes...
Ed: "You, too!
Edith: "...Merry Christmas, and the single’s out January the 14th. Ed, thank you so much for coming in! Top Rated this week then from Radiohead, it’s ‘Jigsaw Falling Into Place’.