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“We play f*** off songs!”
“We play f*** off songs: if you’re not interested, f*** you!”
by Simon Williams

(Presentation of the article in the NME Originals issue about Radiohead from 2003)

RADIOHEAD, it would appear, are working up a head of steam about this, that and several others. As befits a band who play like their, erm, lives depended on it. “We’re calm people normally, but on a stage we get such a buzz,” apologies singer Thom Yorke. “And response is really important - you can’t go on in front of 50 people and do a Manic Street Preachers. You can’t!”
“We supported Sultans of Ping FC and the audience probably expected a joke band as support,” continues Thom. “But we’re not exactly a bundle of laughs: we scream and yell and generally be... completely tragic!”
Radiohead have been around for half a decade, content to amble along until last summer when they reconvened in Oxford around drummer Phil Selway, bassist Colin Greenwood and guitarists Ed O’Brien and Johnny Greenwood.
“When we were off at college, Ride started up and the whole Thames Valley thing happened.” shrugs thom. “By the time we got back it had all finished! That’s called impeccable timing - we completely missed the boat.”
Now Radiohead are content to sail their ship alone, propelled by the hyperdrive inherent in their debut ‘Drill’ EP. The choicest cut is ‘Prove Yourself’, the kind of sly meander which suddenly erupts into a torrent of temperamental guitars, with nary a warning about manning the barricades. thom explains that ‘Prove Yourself’ kicks against such basic downers as infringement of privacy, returning to the cheery theme of ‘f*** off’ tunes, but emphasises that positive sentiments lurk beneath the furious fur.
“One of the problems with punk was that the violence just intimidated people to the point where they were moved to fight back. the idea of just moshing around and hitting each other doesn’t make any sense to me it’s bollocks. the aggression should be channelled into something rather than encouraging people to hit each other.”
Fugazi’s intelligent aggression gets the thumbs up, as does the DJ in Newcastle who has been plating ‘Prove Yourself’ - with its key refrain of “I’m better off dead” - on hospital radio! Add this to Radiohead’s strange position on the (gasp!) EMI roster and one could well be looking at subversive instincts gone wild.
“The day we signed to EMI the label MD walked in.” grins Colin. “He said, ‘You’ll never see me again until you sell 5000,000 units and then we’ll shake hands and take a photo. by the way, I really liked that song ‘Philippa Chicken’, that’s my favourite.’ And I said, ‘Oh we’ve dropped that one from the set,’ and there was just this silence as the pen wavered over the contract...”
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