BBC Radio 5 'Not Just Cricket', december 25th 2011
[Interview with Ed]
This is a transcript from an audio recording.
[Paranoid Android snippet plays]
Host: Talking of being number 1, let's talk to a man who knows a few things about topping the charts. Hello to Ed O'Brien, guitarist in Radiohead, but more importantly, a massive, massive cricket aficionado. Hello.
Ed: Hi, I'm good, man, how are you?
Host: I'm very good thanks, thanks for joining us today. So, you're on with Swanny and Jimmy, have you enjoyed watching these guys this summer?
Ed: I've said to so many friends this year, I'm 43 years old, I've never witnessed an English cricket team like this. I'm sure everyone keeps telling them, but it's a complete joy, you know, that it's brilliant and it seems very "un-English", I'm loving it.
Swanny: That's very kind of you to say so, Ed, thanks mate.
Host: Now Swanny, you're a bit of a musician yourself, aren;t you?
Host: I've heard that you do have a band?
Swanny: I do, yeah, I'm the lead singer in a covers band, called Dr Comfort and the Lurid Revelations, and my guitarist's actually next door at the minute, and he won't let me have any Radiohead in there, which is probably a good thing, because we'd absolutely destroy all of your stuff, and I'm a big fan, by the way. So I, you know, if you're gonna say nice things about me, I can say 'em back, surely. But what I was wondering was, on tour, I know myself and Jimmy, and a couple of the other guys take guitars with us, and with any of the roadies and stuff, do you ever just pull out a bat and ball and have a knockabout, I dunno, just before playing Knebworth or Madison Square Garden, just have a quick game of French Cricket?
Ed (interrupting): Oh yeah, [laughs]. When we first toured with R.E.M, big world tour in '95, and they asked us to come along, and we were the opening act, so you get to play for, like, 30 minutes. And they were playing these enormo-domes, these huge, like, you know, sports arenas. So there'd be no seating on the ground, so we would literally, during the day, pull out our sound engineer, Jim (a very keen cricketer), and have great games. And in fact, we carried on doing that, but we haven't done it in a bit because we haven't played suitable venues, but we're going back in arenas next year, and it's, we've often done it before a gig, then after a gig once the punters are out, it's a really nice way to sort of wind down and stuff, so yeah we definitely... it's great as well doing it in America, because, you must know how Americans, you know, they're...
Swanny [American accent]: "Oh my god, is this like baseball?"
Ed: I had a cricket bat that I was given for my 30th birthday by the band when we were on tour in America, I was given a cricket bat. I was comingg back through, er, getting on the plane to get back home, going through security and the guy at security said [American accent] "Er, excuse me sir, can you, can you hand me your paddle?"
Ed: [American accent] "Your paddle, under your arm sir, can you hand me your paddle", I said [pronounced English accent] "That's not a paddle, sir, that's finest English willoW, I'll have you know!"
Host: You could have got arrested for that sort of sass in America
Ed: Well you know what, he confiscated it and wouldn't let me on the plane, it was gone, never got it back.
Swanny: No way
Host: Unbelievable. Do you get any chance to play properly? Not just with the roadies, with anyone else?
Ed: I loved cricket as a kid, and I loved to play, and in fact, before music, cricket was my first love, I got sort of vaguely obsessed with it. But I was never really that good.
Host: Did you end up scoring?
Ed: No, no, I always played, I always played, but yeah, I know what you mean. About 12 years ago, we came off tour and we had the summer off, first summer off, and I started playing for a team outside Reading, a village team, which was great fun. But you know what, it's, I'm gonna sound like a complete wuss here as well but I don't mind, having not played for about 12 to 15 years, I forgot how hard that ball is. You wouldn't know that, because you've played it all your life, but if you haven't played for 12 to 15 years, and also being a guitarist, I watched my hands, so yeah, I was definitely a bit of a wuss in that regard.
Jimmy: Ed, it's Jimmy here. I just got a quick question for you, cause I know you said you liked playing the guitar every day, and it's kind of your therapy, but we go on tour for quite a long time, and when we come home, we're quite happy not to play cricket for a few weeks or months
Jimmy: Do you ever get to a stage where you've had enough of playing guitar for a while, and you want to just give it a rest, and go on holiday, and just forget about playing
Ed: Yeah, absolutely, I mean, you know, completely, and we're lucky that we can follow that instinct and there are times where we don't want to do it, and that's really, I think that's really important, and I mean, you know, I don't know how you guys do it, because I was looking at your schedule for next year, and is it right that you guys are away for 250 days or something?
X: Yeah, that's right, we leave on January 2nd and comeback in 2020.
Ed: Who was the guy, who's the guy that puts your schedules together, because to me, as a musician...
X: It's our boss!
Ed: [laughs] Is that the ECB?
X: No comment
Ed: I don't want to get you in hot water, but what I suggest...
X: Greg says it's stupid, I'd go along with it
Host: Yeah, you know what, I'm not gonna speak for the boys, but I think it's ridiculous how long they're away
Ed: Well you know what, I'll tell you what with us, what happened with us. We used to tour relentlessly, and you had to in the early days, and basically, we didn't stop for about 6 years, probably on a par with what you guys did. And then our management started coming on the road with us, and they recognised burnout. It's only by actually doing it that you recognise that, so it's crazy what they put you through, but also, sort of on a lighter note, yeah definitely, you have to get away and you have to get the hunger back for that thing that you do, don't you, you can't do it day in, day out, it's not possible. We're not a performing, you're not a performing monkey, sometimes we are performing monkeys. You guys shouldn't be performing monkeys, you're representing our country in an amazing game, and the level of fitness, and the mental stuff that you have to do, I cannot even imagine.
Host: Ed, thank you very much indeed for joining us today, I mean, one of the best bands on the planet right now, Radiohead, thank you so much Ed O'Brien and merry Christmas!
Ed: Ah, merry Christmas too, good luck, and a pleasure to talk to you chaps, good luck.