Main Index >> Media Index >> In Rainbows Media | UK Media | 2008 Interviews

[recording starts]

(end of No surprises)

Steve Wright: "Thom and Ed are here from Radiohead!

Ed: "Hello!

Steve: "How are you boys? Ok?

Ed: "Very good thank you.

Thom: "Nice.

Ed: "Nice? Yeah...

Steve: "Yes, very nice to see you! Ok, lots to talk about, you've got a very busy day and we should say right away that this is pre-recorded, we actually did this this morning, cause as this goes out, you'll already be doing something for 6 Music or possibly Radio 1 or rehearsing for your big concert tonight for Radio 2...Am I right?

Thom: "Or, taking out the garbage, or whatever it is that we're being told to do today.

Steve: "Wheezing laugh. You just do as you're told now, don't you?

Thom: "Yeah.

Steve: "First of all: Now the download thing, Thom, in your view, how did that work out? The latest album being downloaded, 'cause I remember you saying, "Oh, look, if they want it for nothing, they can have it for nothing," How many people had it for nothing, and how many people paid?

Thom: "I don't remember. Ed probably does. I think it worked as an idea though, because everyone got to hear it and evaluate it on their own terms. To me, the issue of whether one paid or not for it was the side issue, given that every record we put out had leaked, one way or another, which means...

Ed: "Yeah.

Thom: "it had been copied and thrown around the internet, even before it was the finished version; we had people breaking into studios and copying hard disks, and so on. To us, this is like a way of turning the situation to our advantage really; and whether people wanted to put some money in the hat or whatever was secondary, really.

Steve: "So, would you both say that it went well as a concept?

Ed: "Yeah! I think so. I mean, if you measure it by, sort of the money that you got in, it was good as well... It was interesting how different countries responded to it. Italy was the most generous, I think there was like

Thom: "We were, actually

Ed: "75 percent of people...and Brits as well! The UK, I think 60 percent who downloaded paid something for it, so: It was really nice to treat people as honest, civilised human beings, as opposed to money-grubbing thieves.

Thom and Steve: "Laughing

Steve: "That's not to say you thought they were money-grubbing thieves before!

Thom: "No, no! It was purely an experiment!

Ed: "It was interesting, within the band; and I was very optimistic, I thought, you know, at least ninety percent of people...

Thom: "So what you're saying is, "You were right"?

Ed: "Yeah, and I was completely wrong.

Thom: "You were right?

Ed: "No! I was wrong because less people paid for it.

Thom: "Oh...

Steve: "I want to play a track from the album and I want you to tell me which track it is! Cause, I look at the album and I can't tell which track I'm playing. It starts "Wakey wakey"

Thom: "Oh, yeah! "Faust Arp"!

Steve: "Tell me what that's about, Thom!

Thom: "I don't know. It's psychic garbage, as usual.

Ed and Steve: "Laughing a bit

Thom: "Laughs

Steve: "Funny enough you should say "Garbage"...because there is a reference to plastic bags and what have you.

Thom: "Oh yeah!

Steve: "Is it some kind of environmental t'ing?

Thom: "No, not really...

Janey Lee Grace: "But it can be for you, can't it?

Thom: "Yes! Absolutely. For you it can. For anybody who's interested, anybody who cares.

Steve: "OK, Here it comes.



Steve: "Faust arp! That's Radiohead, while Radiohead are with us! Thank you, and Thom and Ed are back with us now, I want to do a thing, Thom, if I can just go back, go way back:

Thom: "Rewind!

Steve: "Makes a rewinding tape noise.

Steve: "You all met at school, as I read, in Abingdon, and the band were originally called "On A Friday"?

Thom: "Mmm.

Steve: "Why were they called "On A Friday"?

Thom: "Because it was the worst name we could think of!

Ed and Steve: Immediate laughter

Steve: "I thought it was because that was the spare day that you had at school...

Thom: "It might be something to do with that. The funny thing is when we signed the record deal, they said, "Look, we're not signing you unless you change your name,"

Steve: "Really??

Thom: "It was a fair cop! And we had a week to do it!

Steve: "Where did you get "Radiohead" from?

Ed: "It's the name of a Talking Heads song!

Thom: "Yup!

Ed: "Off "True Stories".

Thom: "There was one time, in the U.S., where we had to take David Byrne out to dinner, Jonny and I, on the basis that we thought we owed him, really!

Ed and Steve: Laughing

Steve: "Was he wearing the big suit?

Thom: "No! No.

Steve: "Was your headmaster, were the people at school, I know it seems funny going back to school days, but, were they encouraging: to start the band, be in a band, to get into music?

Ed: "There were two teachers: The head of Music was amazing: A guy called Terry James.

Thom: "Hi, Terry!

Ed: "And he basically let us use the Music School, that was his manner. The headmaster was not keen on it at all, and he tried to stop us playing, but Terry held firm for us.

Thom: "It was a bizarre thing though, cause we inherited this situation where there'd been like these punk gigs at the school and someone had their arm broken, and all this stuff, all the seats got ripped out. And that was used as an excuse to justify "No amplified music whatsoever within the school, ever!"

Steve: "Laughs

Steve: "So I'll take that as a a Yes!

Ed and Thom: "Laugh

Steve: "A kind of a "Yes"! I also heard, Thom, that you were, and I do find this hard to believe:

Thom: "Really?

Steve: "...that you were once a D. J.

Thom: "Yeah.

Steve: "Were you a kind of (Makes sound of a stuttering record) DJ?

Thom: "No, I wish I... Well, no, my scratching is a little bit limited. No, I used to do the club every Friday, I used to make the college a fortune, actually, out of it, cause it was always sold out, and it was a really good laugh, and it was during the period of the Manchester thing. It was mostly just good fun, really!

Steve: "Good fun! Not a money-making exercise!

Thom: "No! I spent it all on the records, what I got! But I had a good record collection at the end of it!

Steve: "And I know this is a corny question, but who, when you were very young, let's say when you were in your teens, who were your musical influences? I don't know what I hear in there. I mean I hear something different every album. I mean, I've seen you live three times...

Thom: "Mhmm...

Steve: "And I still can't make you out.

Thom: "We, actually...

Steve: "That's a good thing, isn't it! Do you think?

Thom: "Yeah!

Ed: "Well, we formed the band in Eighty-Six so it would have been, around that time was R.e.m., The Smiths, Talking Heads.

Thom: "Like, Phil was...

Janey: "What about Cocteau Twins?

Thom: "Yes! I was a massive Cocteau Twins fan!

Janey: "I thought you might be!

Thom: "Yes, I love her voice!

Janey: "Oh, me too! Wasn't it such a shame, isn't it, that they didn't carry on?

Thom: "Yeah, but she did that Massive Attack track which kind of made up for it! Sorry... We digress...

Janey: "Sorry, I was off on a Cocteau Twins rant for a minute!

Steve and Ed: Laughing

Steve: "And then, when the band were formed, what did you do? Did you kind of say, "Those are our influences, we'll move away from that, we'll get a bit eclectic, we'll do something that's not been done before..."

Thom: "No, you start off imitating frantically, for ages!

Ed: "Yeah.

Thom: "And evetually, uh, you realize that it's how you imitate, in the words of John Lennon, it's not what you imitate, it's how you imitate it and how you make it your own.

Steve: "This is not an insulting remark: Where did you get that haunting vocal of yours?

Thom: "I thought he was going to say "face"!

Steve: "Stammering

Ed: "Laughing

Thom: "...It's something you just accumulate out of, well, your heroes. I mean, my biggest hero was always Michael Stipe, the way he sung: In the early days I was just trying to emulate that, and then realized that my voice would never be as gravelly as that. So, sort of moved in another way, really...

Steve: "And was the philosophy of the band always to be "No compromise", Be an environmentally friendly band, don't go corporate? There's a kind of philosophy behind the band, if you like, which has come out over the years: Was that always your aim?

Thom: "A lot of it, for me personally, the "No compromise" thing tends to come rather beligerrently, for me, initially when issues come up, we try and work out ways of making it work rather than, you know, "Oh, you're just being stupid", or whatever. We would then try and be constructive about whatever it is: There is always "a" compromise in a...

Ed: "Yeah, and I think one of the things, from the start, was that it was all about the quality of the music, If you start with that, and it's not about the money, it's always about the thing that you do, then that leads on to other things: You have a belief already set. If you stop doing that, then the whole thing crumbles, really.

Steve: "Yeah! But why did you...agonize over tours, and over albums...

Thom: "Laughing a bit...

Steve: "...and then go back to it, and you don't want to put it out, I respect it, but I'd be interested...

Thom: "No! It's torturous, I agree! Why do agonize? It's just the way it is. In terms of the music we do have a fixed thing that we're aiming at, we're just trying to get "there", and then in other situations we're just trying to do the best we can, really, under the circumstances. But, it, to me, it all comes back from going to art school! And that had a massive influence on me, just 'cause it made me see everything we do in terms of art...

Steve: "I can see that! And I think that most people respect that, don't they?

Thom: "Well... (Laughs) I don't mind if they don't, really!

Steve: "Except the promoter and the record company!

Steve and Ed: Laughing

Thom: "Yeah, they do tend to....there's a lot of scratching their heads that usually goes on.

Ed: ""Why?!?"

Thom: ""You want to do...what???"

Ed: ""Why are you doing this???"

Steve: "Where are we at? Ninety two or ninety three, and you signed to EMI.

Ed: "Yeah...

Steve: "Which is like a big corporation, really.

Thom: "Yeah...

Steve: "Was that a compromise, would you say?

Ed: "Well, lots of the bands, for instance, like R.e.m., were signing up to the majors! And EMI, you know, they offered us the chance of setting up our own fledgling label, and then the only reason we were signed, was because of Nirvana!

Thom: "Which is hilarious, if you think about it!

Ed: "Well, "Smells like teen spirit" broke in the summer of Ninety one.

Thom: "Yeah...

Ed: "And they were influenced heavily, you could tell, by the Pixies. We were at that time, we, that's sort of the kind of, we did...

Thom: "Yeah

Ed: "These quiet verses and loud choruses.

Thom: "Chuckles

Ed: "And that was literally the reason we were signed!

Thom: "We got like, lots of free records and stuff, which was good.

Ed: "Laughs

Ed: "And to be on Parlophone: It's a cool label! It's got history, it had lot of good bands on it: Blur, as well, they were on it as well.

Thom: "I never really knew what to do with the whole Hawkwind back catalogue...

Janey: "Laughs heartily

Steve: "Mind you, that "Silver Machine" was a song, wadn't it?

Janey: "I don't think you'd get a price for that!

Steve: "Yeah, you'd get that on e-bay, you'd be laughing! We'll be right back, we're with Radiohead today! Don't go away! This is a big show! Steve Wright in the afternoon...back with Thom and Ed in a moment!

(Jigsaw falling into place, plays most of the way through)

Steve: "We're back here, with Thom and Ed from Radiohead! Did you know, I think...

Thom: "We haven't left yet!

Steve: "A round of applause for everybody!

Thom: "For getting up, so early!

Steve: "And now, touring! As I say, I've seen you three times, maybe four times. I saw you in Oxford, I saw you in Portugal even! Now, the Oxford, the coming home gig...

Thom: "That was the Oxford one....yeah...

Steve: "Was that your best ever gig?

Thom: "No!

Steve: "Oh, no?

Thom: "It was way too rainy.

Steve: "Laughing.... Really?

Thom: "Yeah, the best ever gig for me was this festival in America called Bonnaroo...

Steve: "Really?

Thom: "Sixty thousand people in a field. It was great!

Steve: "Now can I just say, to you Thom, I'm going to say Scott Walker.

Thom: "Oh yes?

Steve: "And then I'm going to say "Banging bits of meat",

Thom: "Oh yes!

Steve: "Well, were you disappointed at that documentary? Did you the documentary?

Thom: "No, I haven't seen it, sorry!

Steve: "OK, well, have a look at it, because you think to yourself, "OK, Scott Walker, what a voice! What an artist, what an influence!"

Thom: "Mhmm.

Steve: "OK, and you kind of respect him for going off and experimenting, but when it comes to like just banging bits of meat, and that's the wrong piece of meat, and then banging another piece of meat until you get the right sound...I mean you'd probably appreciate it more than...

Ed: "I love that stuff!

Steve: "Well, you would, wouldn't you! With your little Wah-wahs!

Thom: "We spent three weeks on this record just getting the "Reverb"!

Ed: "That's right!

Janey: "Laughing

Steve: "I mean, people often say, "Oh, Radiohead, okay, marginally experimental!"

Ed: "Yeah...

Steve: "Is that kind of experimental too far?

Ed: "Well, the thing is, Scott Walker's on his own, so he's on his own trajectory, he's on his own mission. I mean, fair dues. If you want to do that...

Steve: "Was it Creep that started it, really? I like the way you still play Creep. You will always play Creep won't you? (Clears throat.)

Ed: "Well,...

Steve: "Is that a no?

Thom: "I'm sure we might.

Steve: "Surprised laugh. "I'm sure we might?" Okay...

Steve: "Because that was a global hit single, would you say that set the standard, you know, this is who we are, or was that something out of the loop?

Ed: "We, we were very lucky, and in many respects, for years we kicked against it because we were deemed initially to be this one-hit wonder. But we were very lucky cause it really saved our skins...

Thom: "Absolutely

Ed: "at a time we actually got to sell some records, so when we came to make The Bends, we weren't in debt to the record company. So, we had a degree of independence, so, we were able to go in and make The Bends without a huge debt on our back...

Steve: "Yeah...

Ed: "And having any interference in the N.R. department in the record company, so, that was the biggest hit we've ever had in America, you know, as a single.

Thom: "The only reason we were ever able to sort of carry on and pursue our crooked path was because of Creep. To EMI's credit all the people that we worked with there, they completely tolerated our misguided antics all the time!

Ed: "Laughs

Thom: "It was great...

Steve: "Well, that's what I thought! Once you'd done that,

Thom: "Yeah!

Steve: "I'm not saying you could have "done what you liked", but

Thom: "And then we had OK Computer: and um, Ca-ching, according to them anyway!

Steve: "Well, and OK Computer was your "Sgt Pepper" or not? Can it be beaten? Has it been beaten?

Ed: "Yeah!

Thom: "It's a product of a time, isn't it!

Ed: "Yeah...With In Rainbows and I think Kid A and The Bends and OK Computer, they're different, but they're all of a standard that we're immensely proud of. Those records could not have been better at that time.

Steve: "You guys, do you still hate the idea that rock musicians are celebrities? Because I suppose, like it or lump it, you are celebrities, even though you wouldn't court celebritydom...I think that's a word, If it's not...then it is now.

Thom: "Laughs

Steve: "I know you hate the celebrity culture, but I mean, in the end you have to be it, don't you? You have to join it, don't you? Really?

Ed: "No! You can just be yourself. You hear a lot from kids nowadays, they hear "Well, I want to be famous," And what do you want to be famous for? "I just want to be famous!" But, for us, or personally speaking, it's just really not an issue. I mean, at the time of Britpop, we were invited to all these openings of whatever, and we were quite happy to be in Oxford, and just get on and do time music. Cause I think you lose yourself in it, probably.

Thom: "Yeah. You have friends, and then you have "friends". Sighs.

Ed and Thom: Laughing

Steve: "And what about the kind of Live Nation-style merchandising that they're all into? Your heroes R.e.m. are into all of that, you know, the bigtime merchandising, and, is that not all a bit corporate, the whole U2 corporate thing and the Stones corporate thing? How does that sit with you?

Ed: "Well they come from a different generation, you know! I think with bands like U2 and stuff, they came out of the Eighties, and the Eighties was all about franchises, being big, being the biggest band in the world. By the time the Nineties came on, well you know, we came out of that whole, you know, we weren't 'grunge", but that whole reaction against that. There's like a cycle. We're like the Neil Youngs. And then the next generation will be hungry for money; and, it's just a cyclical thing, it just comes back and forth. And we're part of the tide that was...

Thom: "We're, in America we have this sort of real affinitive with the Deadheads. And I'm actually quite proud of it, meself! You know, the Grateful Dead followers, loonies...

Steve: "Affable hippies! Is it guys about 45 with their hair down to...

Thom: "No, it's their kids as well though! That's the point, their kids have taken up the whole sort of mantle and doing it as well!

Steve: "And give us an idea of what you're going to be doing later for Radio 2... You're going to be Wah-wahing it, aren't you!

Ed: "Wah-wah wah wah wah...

Thom: "What's wah-wahing?

Steve: "A wah-wah.

Ed: "A wah-wah.

Ed: "We're doing about a ten-song set on the Radcliffe-Maconie show live. We've actually written the setlist.

Thom: "Have we?

Ed: "Which we'll probably change.

Thom: "Yes.

Steve: "Wow, that's going to be great!

Ed: "Yeah!

Steve: "Full details of "Radiohead at the BBC" can be found by logging onto Their latest single 'Nude' which we're going to play as we go here, is now available in the shops! Stay with 6 Music, stay with Radio 1 and Radio 2.... It's Radiohead day on the BBC, isn't it!

Thom: "Oh! No, you poor guys...

Steve: "Chuckles. That's what it is! Thom Yorke and Ed O'Brien, thank you very much guys!

Ed: "Thank you!

Steve: "Thank you very much, that was excellent! Much was revealed!

Thom or Ed: "Clears throat...

[recording ends]