Radiohead's singer goes on the record about war, lies, Star Wars, Bush, Blair and the possible future consequences of the Iraq war.
Last week, as George W Bush stepped onto British soil, Radiohead singer Thom Yorke led the widespread protests exclusively in these pages. Here, for the first time, is the full interview. Pouring his most outspoken comments yet directly into NME’s email inbox, Yorke reveals how the band feared a backlash when they took the controversial ‘Hail To The Thief’ to America, and why the onward march of the Bush and Blair coalition poses a threat to the whole world’s safety.
NME: As someone who has spent a significant amount of time in the US in 2003, how would you best assess the political climate over there?
Thom: “We were sort of worried about the reaction to what we had been saying when we went over there on tour, although Colin (whose wife is American) didn’t see a problem at all. It turned out that he was right, when you met people face to face the resistance, disgust and dismay was obvious.
“The first thing I did when arriving in the States on the first night was switch on the public service TV news channel, C-Span, and they had all the Democratic candidates lined up at a kind of hustings thing in front of some union. Every one of them along the line started his response to the first question (which was about Californian recall) saying that it is common knowledge now that Bush stole the election in Florida in ballot-rigging however many it was – 50,000 legitimate votes that were conveniently lost, etc – so it’s out there, everybody discusses it, but not enough to make anything happen. Very strange. When we played ‘No Surprises’ a huge cheer would go up every night over the line ‘Bring down the government, they don’t speak for us’ – although in Houston, Texas it was a little, er, muted shall wesay.
“I think the whole Dixie Chicks things was kind of hyped up bullshit to intimidate artists and performers. We spent most of our time on the east and west coast, and in the middle things are different. The Bush junta seizing power has split the country in two it seems, much of that is based on ignorance and fear perpetrated by the media and the White House.