Paul Anderson: "...on XFM. You have been away for a while, but the expectation, that we were mentioning before, the expectation leading up to this album... I mean, the expectation leading up to this interview for me has been, uh, almost like..."
Paul: "...the giving birth to an album. So, you must be glad it's finally out. And just a huge sense of relief now."
Phil: "Yes! Definitely, I mean it 's... I mean, because we actually finished working on this album back at the end of April, the beginning of May, for us it feels as though it's been very current since then. Um. And it's just very bizarre to think 'Ok, we've been out doing all this touring, and the album's not even out yet...' So the fact that it's coming out in a week is a big relief."
Ed: "And we also... I mean, also the past sort of three months and doing the dates in the summer, it was a really conscious thing to, to try and dissipate some of that expectation, because you know... When OK Computer was released, it was released this... you know, we went out to Barcelona and we had this week, and we thought it was amazing. We thought, you know, that the press are flying in, people are flying in, we're doing some of these gigs in Barcelona. And actually the pressure of it was... it was just too much. And right at the beginning of the whole touring. So by, sort of Show Nine, which was Glastonbury, you know, we were absolutely shagged. We were completely... and then we had another nine months of touring. So what we'd tried to do, like... part of going out and playing live and part of what we did on the net, um, is not to have this sort of... we just don't feel comfortable with like 'Here's the next Radiohead album'. It's not something that, you know... Part of what we're trying to get into now is a cycle that, hopefully people will get bored of us, in a way, you know, by meaning that we're going to have an album out every year, so, it's not going to be like every two or three years there's this Radiohead album that sort of comes from nowhere."
Phil: "We get bored of us so why shouldn't everybody else? (laughs)"
Paul: "What, um, how... talking about playing live... I mean, we're talking before you go off to soundcheck, which is why you couldn't come into the studio live today. You're soundchecking for tonight's gig. I mean, so far, two nights out of three, Phil, how's it gone at Victoria Park?"
Phil: "Um. It's... On the graph it's becoming... There's a gradient going downwards on the tension levels, I think."
Phil: "I mean, inevitably, you know, there's this whole thing that surrounds a London show. And it's actually really nice being able to do three shows here, because you can spread that out a bit, and you actually get through that kind of pain barrier on the first show. So the first one was probably the most tense of this tour so far."
Ed: "Of the year, wasn't it."
Phil: "Yeah. But last night, you know, after, after seeming to be fairly well received on Saturday night, I think we were much more relaxed, and so, tonight, you know, we're going to be so laid back, aren't we?"
Ed: "So laid back, man."
Phil: "We're gonna be, you know... Relax! (laughs)"
Paul: "But this is more enjoyable. I mean, presumably, the summer Meltdown thing was like 'oh, this is just, we're guests of somebodies', so we feel a bit more..."
Ed: "Totally, totally. It was Scott Walker's thing. And it was great, because we were one of a number of bands and we could sort of 'slip in under the net', if you like."
Paul: "That hasn't happened for a while, has it, when you've been one of a number of bands..."
Ed: "Well, no. Well, apart from doing festivals. Apart from say, Glastonbury, but that was a long time ago. So yeah, it was really good, and it was... it definitely... I mean, that was really the reason why we went touring in the summer, because we got this invitation last Christmas from Scott Walker. And, you know, this handwritten invitation, it was like 'Oh we've got to do this!', you know?"
Paul: "How cool is that! Is that framed somewhere?"
Phil: "It certainly is!"
Ed: "Yeah, it is!"
Phil: "Under lock and key."
Paul: "That must have been an amazing compliment to get."
Ed: "Yeah! Completely. And so we fitted in some live dates around that, because that was, that seemed like a, you know, something that we shouldn't turn down."
Paul: "But with this tour, which isn't really a tour, is it, it's a few dates..."
Ed: "What dou you mean..."
Paul: "Well, from our angle... (laughs)"
Ed: "It's not an 18 month world tour, but it's like... (laughs)"
Paul: "It's not like with OK Computer, it's like 'here we go' and you're on the road forever... I just wondered - 'cause of the expectation that we talked about and with getting the album out - did you suddenly think: 'Oh God, we've got to go and tour this now!'"
Ed: "Well, we're not gonna do that touring again like with OK Computer. It's like..."
Phil: "Yeah, it's... I mean, the actual touring isn't a response or like a promotion of the album. We, you know, we're going out touring because we actually got the taste back for it, really. We did... at the end of last year we did a webcast, and as kind of an impromptu thing at the end we actually all sat down and bashed through a song like acoustically, and I think we actually... we caught the bug again from there, really, didn't we?"
Phil: "We thought 'Ok, now we want to go out and do this again!' But we want to go out on tour for touring's sake, really, so, you know, it had to be set up properly so there'd be interesting dates for us to do. Something that we'd get excited about. And a schedule which, you know... you didn't feel as though you'd come out at the end of it braindead, really."
Phil: "So hopefully that's... I think that's... it seems to be going that way, anyway."
Paul: "Therefore you feel more relaxed about the whole thing?"
Ed: "Yeah, well it's... you know, you don't have nine months of dates pencilled in, or confirmed ahead of you. You can see light at the end of the tunnel. And that was... that's the problem with the way that... you know, I think you talk to most bands, by when they're sort of doing a World Tour that's sort of nine months or whatever. You talk to them after three months and they are, they are dead from the waist up. You know, they're tired, they probably have to play the same songs... and one of the beauties of our position is we've got like a 'song list', we've got sixty odd songs on that! And we're doing... half the set is new material, we change the set every single night, different order. Sometimes, you know, sometimes it's good, sometimes it's completely crap. But that's... you have to keep it interesting."
Ed: "So now, we're doing it for the right reasons rather than..."
Phil: "Even doing cover versions!"
Ed: "Yeah, totally."
Paul: "Really? What cover versions are you doing?"
Phil: "Um, 'The Thief'! A Can song."
Paul: "Uh huh!"
Phil: "And, also we do a very ropey version of 'Shot By Both Sides'!"
Paul: "A Magazine song!"
Ed: "Yeah, yeah. We'll probably play that in Warrington!"
Phil: "It slows up about halfway through, actually, you know, because we're old blokes these days, so we can't keep the pace! (laughs)"
Paul: "That's ace, I mean, that's never happened before, has it?"
Ed: "What, covers?"
Ed: "We did... um... 'Rhinestone Cowboy' in the early days."
Phil: "And 'Nobody Does it Better'."
Ed: "And we once did a version of 'Union City Blue'."
Phil: "Aw, that was a poorly..."
Ed: "Which was awful. Really, really bad."
Phil: "Such an insult to the original!"
Paul: "Oh, I wonder if there's any bootlegs of that out there."
Ed: "Oh, there are."
Phil: "There are."
Ed: "It was stupidly... it was done... the one time we played it was on a live session on a French radio station. So, uh, yeah, it goes out on FM, so..."
Phil: "Just ??? and search for it."
[excerpt from 'The National Anthem']
Paul: "We're going to talk, obviously, about tracks from the album, and one of the first ones that I wanted to play was 'National Anthem'. And I never thought I'd ask any members of Radiohead this, if there was any jazz element to their music? But on this track there certainly is, so I mean, tell us about 'National Anthem', Phil."
Phil: "'National Anthem'... We actually started recording that song, uh, over two years ago? After the last UK tour we went in and we were finishing off a B-side, and the rhythm track for 'National Anthem' was actually hatched then. Um, and it was, you know... at the time it wasn't really working. So we left it for two years, came back to it, and something started to gel there, really."
Ed: "I thought it was, it was left because your drums were so good on that!"
Phil: "Oh! Why'd you... No!"
Ed: "That we couldn't do it justice! (laughs)"
Phil: "Why are you an arse today, I feel some big favor coming..."
Ed: "I just love your drumming man."
Phil: "I have you very high in my monitor, too, as well."
Paul: "Mutual appreciation there... The lovey Radiohead, touchy! So this is a two year old song? I didn't realize it was quite as old."
Ed: "It's older than that, I remember we rehearsed it when we were rehearing for The Bends, in erm... in our rehearsal studio, we rehearsed it. And that would be back at early '94. But it was kind of... then it sounded sort of... there's a great band called Kitchens of Distinction..."
Paul: "Oh, why weren't they huge!"
Ed: "They were great. And it was sounding distinctly Kitchens of Distinction. I think, you know, there's a semi sort of rip off going on there."
Ed: "So, you know..."
Paul: "The first time..."
Ed: "Give it five years, everyone forgets!"
Paul: "They were on One Little Indian or something..."
Ed: "That's right."
Paul: "First time I heard them was..."
Ed: "Broken Capsule."
Paul: "Fantastic record!"
Ed: "I actually roadied for them in, err, for one gig up at Manchester University in 1988. Yeah. And uh... It was a Saturday, because they were short of, you know, like, PA humpers or whatever. And um, I remember... 'cause I had never heard anything by them, and they were opening up for... oh God, they were an Aussie band, I forget.... It wasn't the Go Betweens. They were opening up for, um, maybe it was the Triffids. Yeah, it was the Triffids, I think, '88 or something. And, err... I remember their sound... they did their soundcheck, you know, they were the opening band and this colossal sound... it was just amazing. What the guitarist used to do with his pedals."
Phil: "It's great doing interviews with you, Ed. Because I mean, all these little facts! All these little disclosures come out, which I had no idea about."
Paul: "And you've known him for how long now?"
Phil: "Too long!"
Ed: "We don't spend enough time together, that's our problem!"
Paul: "That's all changing on this tour, it would seem!"
Ed: "Apart from the separate buses and the separate hotels."
Paul: "Yeah, five buses, that must..."
Ed: "Yeah, it's very costly."
Paul: "Was it, uh... it must be a great relief to be able to get your own... the tent and everything, together. How's the tent holding up, two nights in? At London at least..."
Phil: "Um, leaking on stage, but anybody in the audience is bone dry, I think."
Paul: "Oh, that's good. Why did you decide to go with a tent?"
Phil: "Um. It was kind of a reaction to the last UK tour we did, which was in the, you know, Wembley Arena, NEC, which, you know, at the time, had its novelty value for us, you know, we responded to that. But I think looking back on it, it just didn't seem an appropriate place for us to be playing this time around, really. And we wanted to have that kind of size, be able to play to that size audience again, but actually have something which felt a bit more intimate, something which, you know, we would actually have control over. How, you know, the venue would be presented or whatever. Erm. And... so, you know, it is something, well, certainly something different for us, as well. So, you know, that brings its own excitement with it as well."
Ed: "And if you're really honest as a punter, as we're in London, if everyone is really honest, Wembley Arena is bollocks. It really is. And it might be like..."
Phil: "We won't be going back there again, will we?"
Ed: "But it is! It's a terrible..."
Ed: "It's a cavernous hole. Birmingham East is rubbish as well. Manchester Ninex..."
Phil: "St. Bridget's perhaps? Come on."
Ed: "That's alright."
Ed: "But they're rubbish! They're not conducive to playing good gigs! And bands go in there, and would like we did, because there's no other option, there's no other place to play. Or there's maybe the London Arena, but that's bollocks."
Paul: "Geographically, Ed, do you want to go around the country?"
Ed: "Well it's... Manchester was fine, Manchester was good, but you know, the trouble is people never say these things! You know, they go... they don't say this because they're... for whatever reason, but they are rubbish places! I remember going to see R.E.M. there, in '89, right at the back! Couldn't see anything, couldn't hear anything! And it's just like a waste of fifteen quid."
Ed: "And it's, I think... you know, a lot of... the great thing about the tent is that even if you're, even if you're at the back, we've got really good sound all the way around, we've got screens there so people... and it's... you're never that far away from the stage. It's kind of like being... the furthest you're back is like, halfway back, at, say, Wembley Arena. So it's got to be a better experience than going to these..."
Paul: "The people I've spoken to already today say it looks like the Magic Kingdom. It looks absolutely fantastic when you walk in."
Phil: "It's very disney."
Ed: "Yeah, yeah."
Phil: "As we've got the... you know, you see the lights twinkling away in the distance as you're walking across the park and..."
Paul: "So you control the sound and you control the whole thing..."
Ed: "We control everything."
Paul: "Three emails I had, that I've been saving for you, which was about venue prices... hang on a minute, let me find it here... um, it comes from Ben[?], she says 'Why are the tickets so expensive when you cut out the venue cost?'"
Ed: "Yeah, 'cause they're 25 quid a ticket... Well, that's part of... if you don't do the normal route, if you don't do the Wembley Arenas etcetera etcetera, and you don't take up the sponsorship, it's really expensive. It is. It's really, really, really expensive. And we've got 60 people on the road and it takes... and I know this is no concession to the punter, who... you know, 20 quid versus 25 quid, of course you want to pay 20 quid, but this is what we had to balance out. It's like, ok, we could go out for like, 18 quid, 15 quid, and play like Wembley Arena, or we could charge more, break even on the tour, you know, and charge people 25 quid, and... I don't know, we came to the conclusion that it was... we thought it was a better... you know, it was worth paying 5 quid more. You know, you go to a football match nowadays, you're gonna spend... you go and see the Premiership game, you're going to spend 30 quid on a ticket at least."
Paul: "Tell me about it, I'm a Chelsea fan..."
Ed: "Well... ex, well, absolutely! And Arsenal is the most expensive seat in the country as well! So, I mean, you know... we are sorry that it's seven quid fifty more than the usual ticket price, or whatever, but I think the experience of it is more than makes up for it, hopefully. Well, maybe if people disagree, we'll go back to those crap venues like Wembley Arena."
Paul: "Well you can't now. That's it, done! Erm, about the album, I've got a couple about Phil, a couple of questions aimed at you. It says, one here from Jeremy says 'Are you pissed off that you hardly drum on Kid A, and it's all drum machines?' (laughter) So how much of it is you and how much of it is machine?"
Ed: "Most of it's you."
Phil: "A fair bit, I mean we didn't actually approach it from the, you know, that standard band performance, 'Here, here's the arrangement and we're just trying to find the, you know, what we believe to be the ultimate performance of it'. Um, you know, it would be built up from taking out sections of my drumming, building up loops, and from that to build up a rhythm track. Um, and also, you know, Jonny has this incredible Analogue Systems synthesizer thing that we've all... it looks looks like a big, you know, telephone operator's thing. But, um... so you know, stuff was coming off that. I think we were just trying to open up the whole process of, you know, putting rhythm tracks together, or saying, you know, trying to move away from having very rigid definitions of what we did. So if Thom or Jonny came in, or Ed or Colin, came in with like good ideas for rhythm tracks as well, then we'd use them! Conversely, in other areas, as well! So, yeah, there's a fair bit of me on there. I don't feel left out."
Paul: "Didn't think so, 'cause I read somewhere that you - for maybe one of the tracks, maybe more - you were just told to go into a room and come up with whatever you could, there was a load of computers in there or something like that, is that right? And you just came up with different loops, sounds, whatever it might have been, so it was truly experimental..."
Ed: "Yeah, it was!"
Ed: "Um... Well, Nigel was funny... Nigel was really good because he said that in, uh... - Nigel is Nigel Godrich, who produced it - he... we had this thing at the beginning of the year, and Jonny apparently didn't enjoy these two weeks, but Nigel was... said like... we'd completed some songs and we hadn't completed others and we were starting... And rather than... you know, we'd had the break after Christmas. He said, 'Alright, we're gonna... Let's split up into two groups'. And we had two weeks of totally ex... I mean, it was real sort of workshop experimental stuff. And it kind of... I think we got a lot of that stuff out of our system. You know, we weren't allowed to pick... Nigel said the rules were nobody was allowed to play drums, nobody was allowed to pick up a guitar, the only things that... the only thing that could be used were sort of acou... err, uh, electronic, you know, computers, synths, etcetera, etcetera. And, you know, out of all of that, there was sort of probably... it was really good fun. Twenty percent of it was good and the other eighty percent of it was utter rubbish."
Phil: "It was like being student, or..."
Ed: "Yeah, exactly, it's like..."
Phil: "Afterwards we went off for a pint of Snake Bite. (laughs) (sings) 'Socialist worker...'"
Ed: "But it was good for us in that sense, because it kind of freed us up even more, it was..."
Paul: "It was quite cathartic, by the sounds of it."
Ed: "Yeah... and you sort of... you know, you kind of realize that sometimes it can be quite valid of just... this phrase that we'd say 'Just throw some shit at it', you know, just, just be random. And sometimes you may, you know, you'd be random and it can make sense out of the chaos, out of that, and find something that really fits in one of them, that's quite exciting."
Paul: "Was much of it used, from that..."
Paul: "...those experimental stages..."
Ed: "Bits... I mean, there's one track that's possibly going... that will come out next year. Erm, no, but not a lot."
Phil: "Not a lot, no."
Paul: "So it was like 'playpen time'..."
Ed: "Yeah. I mean, there was like stupid stuff at like midnight. There's a track called... that we nicknamed 'Innocents Civilian' that has us trawling around on the gravel outside, you know. I mean, it really..."
Paul: "After eighteen pints of Snake bite, obviously!"
Phil: "That's the great thing about having our own place as well. I mean, that's what we've been working towards for years."
Ed: "For years."
Phil: "And, you know... Actually having the opportunity to go out and be somewhere private."
Paul: "Do you think this album would have been finished if you hadn't gotten that studio done?"
Ed: "We'd have run up the most exorbitant studio bills. If you're talking about, like... you know, a grand a day is the going rate in most top studios, which is obviously a lot of money, and we were doing four-day weeks, and you can't book out just four of the seven days. So we would've... you know, think about... I don't know, what is it, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five odd weeks? At seven times twenty five... that's a lot of money there. Then the mixing, and then..."
Phil: "I'll take fifteen to one on that..."
Ed: "Have I got anyone at six grand a week?"
Paul: "He's actually the turf accountant of the band."
Paul: "It's Paul Anderson, this is XFM. My guests today are Phil and Ed from Radiohead. Do you want to take a break? Do you want any more juice or coffee, or sandwiches, or anything?"
Phil: "Oh! I'm going for that juice, actually."
[part 1 of recording ends]
[part 2 of recording starts]
Paul: "Was there ever a sense when you were making this album of being in competition with OK Computer? Err, Ed."
Ed: "Um, I don't know. I mean, you could have asked the same question about The Bends, and I think... and... because I think The Bends is a great album, and in its form we couldn't have bettered it. And I think the same thing about OK Computer. I think the thing about OK Computer was that - it really was, I know this sounds strange - but it really was a live album in many respects. Eightyfive, ninety percent of it was recorded live, because we'd honed these songs in live, we'd got them... we'd rehearsed them pretty much, we worked out all the parts, we'd worked out the arrangements, played them live. And so what we were doing on OK Computer was merely... not merely, but trying to get the best performance of the song playing in a room."
Ed: "And there was - on this record - there was a feeling of, well, we have to move away from that. And how do we do that? Well, probably one of the easiest ways is to move away from playing live in the studio together. And then there were other things like 'the guitar issue' which... I think that the guitarists - all of us - we were fairly bored by the instruments, if the truth be told, but really didn't know, you know... if I play guitar... and that's all I play, I'm not like Thom and Jonny, Thom and Jonny are like multi-instrumentalists, so it's like you suddenly get all panicked and you go 'Well, I'm bored of the thing that I'm playing', but what can you do? And I think this whole album was really the sort of... it was confronting a lot of insecurities about what you do within the band and how musically we had to change. And all these things... it was a constant re-evaluation. It was constant, kind of... you know, not going back to... if we were at all felt we were going over old ground it was like, it was pushed away."
Ed: "So, I mean... at times it was incredibly difficult, but it was eventually... you know, you all get the way, you know, it's kind of like 'Ah, this is actually really liberating!'"
Paul: "Did any one person drive that? I mean..."
Paul: "Thom. Yeah."
Ed: "Yeah, he really did. And he was really, really, really emphatic about like what he didn't want it to be like. He didn't know what he wanted it to be like, you know, he was listening to a lot of you know, Warp stuff, Autechre, Aphex Twin... and you know... And when we... we'd had like four months off or whatever and we recommun... We did an Amnesty show at the end of '97 and we reconvened in the studio in the beginning of '99. Was it... No, the end of '98, sorry, the end of '98 Amnesty show. At the beginning of '99 we went to Paris. And it was, you know, Thom was into this thing, and he was very much... he drove it in the sense that he kind of... he would be the first one to like 'kick' if it sounded at all... if it sounded at all 'retro' for us."
Paul: "Too much like Radiohead almost."
Ed: "Yeah, yeah, and that was good. Although at times, you know, there was a kind of like... one felt like, we wanted to change but sometimes you have to be a bit patient, you know. Change involves a lot of time, and it's interesting... I mean, Thom was the first one to, to change, but you know, people move in different ways. And you have to... you can't... you know, if you're a guitarist, you can't then suddenly become a noise/keyboard merchant the next day. You have to be inspired by something you hear or records that you hear."
Ed: "So, it, to be able to..."
Ed: "...pick up those ways or whatever."
Phil: "And also I don't think you want to completely cut yourself off from the ways that you've worked beforehand."
Phil: "I mean, there's something about when the five of us are playing together... I mean, there's that... for us that produces exciting results."
Phil: "And, you know, you're worried those elements have gone completely out of the window. But, you're right, you do have to go the other way at points."
Phil: "Just so that you can actually see the value of what you've done before, I think."
Phil: "And so, you know... I mean, there are tracks which probably would be recognizable as being in the mold of things that we've done before, but they're not really on Kid A, are they?"
Ed: "No, they're not."
Paul: "Well the first, the first recognizable song for me was 'How to Disappear Completely'.
Ed and Phil: "Yeah."
Paul: "There's a knowing look from both of you about that. So that... And that is what you think, 'There's a parking space next to 'High & Dry' and it fits there quite nicely', if you see what I mean..."
Phil: "(laughs) Right... I'm not sure if ??? actually, Paul..."
Paul: "So that's an..."
Ed: "A carwash next to 'High & Dry'. 'High & Dry' is in the carwash, being waxed."
Paul: "Yeah, I take that. Whereas... the first two tracks on the album are, I think, quite brave openers. I mean, 'Everything In Its Right Place', very much what you would say is not an instantly recognizable..."
Ed: "Well, Chris Bryce and Brian, our managers, said well, Chris particularly said, 'what do you want...' - you know, we were talking about the track openers - he said 'What is the first track that you would like people to hear?' And unanimously, we all said 'Everything In Its Right Place'. And it was... I mean, that was a track that was first... it was the first completed. It was recorded... finished last summer, and it was Thom and Nige. The song had been kicking around, we had tried it in Paris, we tried it in Copenhagen, in a band format, hadn't really worked. Thom and Nige were at Batsford House out in Gloucestershire, went away into the room for an evening, and worked on it. And came out, you know... I remember coming that night or later that night, hearing - or the next morning - thinking 'This is just amazing, this is wonderful, this is like...' you know, the potential of using this new technology, you know, not resorting to guitars, and the whole thing of it. And it was, it was..."
Phil: "It was very much a case of letting go."
Phil: "For me, along with that. Ok, you hear there's a quality there, but along with that come all the insecurities of... 'But I'm not playing on it!'"
Ed: "'I didn't play on this track!' (laughs) That's right."
Phil: "I mean, in ways, that song is brilliant, because it did bring out..."
Ed: "It forced the issue, immediately! And to be genuinely sort of delighted that you'd been working for six months on this record and something great has come out of it, and you haven't contributed to it, is a really liberating feeling. It's like, you could say 'Fuck! I've been working, I've been playing guitar for six months and everything I've done is crap!' (laughs) You know, but it doesn't..."
Paul: "From a listener point of view I'd have to say it's a good call. Because it really starts... it really... it sounds like the beginning of something."
Ed: "Yeah, it definitely sets the tone of it. I mean, it's the key to this record, I think, that everyone who's listened to it and gets it... it's like, it's like all... I think probably like OK Computer. It takes a few listens and you've got to find the space, you know, that is... I know it sounds a bit wanky, but there is a certain space for this record. You've got to be in a certain frame of mind. If you're... Don't play this record before you go out clubbing on a saturday night. You will not. When you come back, you can play the record. Absolutely. But there's a certain space to it, and it hasn't got, you know, it hasn't... I mean, I think 'Everything In Its Right Place'... I think it's really tense, and actually, in its own way, really emotional. But it appears... it doesn't have the obvious, huge crescendos that have existed on previous tracks and records of ours."
['Everything In Its Right Place' plays]
Paul: "And to go back to a couple of e-mails. A couple of those awkward questions. There's the... A few have come in about the Q interview where it would seem, that... ordinarily you'd think that the two of you here have got the do-gooder and the militant. And coming out of that interview, there seemed to be a bit of friction in the band there. Whereby some of the band wanted melodic songs, and other people didn't, and then all of a sudden the barrier went down and it was 'No, this is the way we're going to do it'. And one of the e-mails I had was saying to you, Ed: 'You know, how did you feel after it was quoted in Q that Thom thought that it was ridiculous what you'd thought, that there was no way it was going to be like that...'"
Ed: "(laughs) No, because... the thing is, it's all about what you remember about it. And what I remember. It's like a long time ago, and that's... My memory of it is that we all agreed - when we were rehearsing for Amnesty... we rehearsed for a month, and we started playing, 'cause we were just playing new material before the Amnesty show, and then two days before we played, we rehearsed the old stuff - but we'd agreed - that's what I remember (laughs) - we'd agreed on fucking three minute pop songs as the antidote to OK Computer's more prog elements."
Phil: "And looking back on it... I mean, initially we just... when we first started recording in Paris, I mean, we didn't actually really sit down, did we."
Phil: "And say, 'This is what we all want to get from this album'."
Phil: "And that didn't really come 'til about six months in, did it? You know, where do you start..."
Ed: "Yeah, it's kind of... It was a band who were full of indecision and... I mean, that Q article was... it was the first interview we'd done for ages, and I think that we... we were all interviewed separately."
Phil: "As Mr. and Mrs... We were all taken off into little cubicles..."
Phil: "All asked the same questions and all came out with totally different answers."
Ed: "We were a little green, you know?"
Paul: "Out of practice..."
Ed: "Yeah. You have to be a bit saavy, especially in print, you know, like TV and Radio is kind of, it's there, they can... but..."
Phil: "And, tell me about Wembley Arena again!"
Ed: "'What a great place to play shows...'"
Paul: "The great thing about the radio is that when people can hear what you're saying they can hear the way you say it, so it's never out of context."
Ed: "You can't get any irony over... and the people have mentioned that Q article and I just read it and I go... you just laugh at it. I mean, that's just indicative of a band at that stage and a band who just are very unsure of where they're going, and what people do remember and what people don't remember. We were in the studio for nearly two years, so... there's a lot of stuff that doesn't..."
Phil: "But also I think, you know, that Q article is very representative of how we are, you know? We are five very different people... and that does create a lot of sparks at points. But also that's... I think that's what drives the band along, really, and the whole creative process along as well. What a nasty expression 'creative process' is, strike that one!"
Paul: "We'll edit that one for you, Phil!"
Paul: "But just to round off on this, this person who e-mailed, it was Matthew from Worchester Park, he said, 'What do you think about Thom? Do you think he's developed kind of a megalomaniac tendency, with the analogy that he... the band were the UN and he was America.'"
Ed: "No! I mean, I think, you know..."
Phil: "If anything he's gone the other way."
Ed: "Exactly. The UN thing I thought was a brilliant analogy because it is... I mean, the thing is at the end of the day, it's a very... we have to agree, it's five people and it's democracy, but, you know, on this record, Thom really moreso than before just pulled us... he was so emphatic about... I mean, really, really, really emphatic about how he didn't want it to be, and when you've got somebody as driven as that, you know, you do get pulled along by it initially. And then you kind of see the light yourself, and you take it onboard. But, no, he's just completely... I think for him having all this time off and just working on the record, and getting away from the Thom Yorke, you know, persona that by OK Computer had reached some kind of, you know, ridiculous sort of almost cartoonish type of..."
Paul: "Yeah, it almost had become a parody..."
Paul: "And people were saying: 'Oh, he's totally shagged out, he's having a nervous breakdown, and he's gonna be jelly.'"
Phil: "And also, I think that was kind of 'enforced' with Meeting People Is Easy as well."
Ed: "Oh yeah..."
Phil: "Which is, you know, it's a great piece, but also... but it's only actually representative of one part of that year as well."
Ed: "That's right. You know, two weeks after Japan we were in Australia and we were all Go-karting in the sunshine. And it's like, you know..."
Phil: "So, I mean, all the elements of what could make the band really good and really enjoyable to be in, they were all there then. And it's just... you know, we needed time to actually sift the wheat from the chaff, really."
Paul: "Absolutely. Well, given that, where do you think Thom, you know, creatively is now, Phil? I mean, has he... do you think that he's probably delivered his best work to you, with this album? Do you think he has reached a creative peak? I mean..."
Phil: "No, actually, I think Kid A is more of a starting point, really, isn't it? It's kind of more of a statement of intent of what we want to do with our studio, with anything that we do with the band now. And I think we're actually looking further, properly further ahead than we ever have done as a band. And we wouldn't be doing that if we felt our best work was done now."
Ed: "We sort of, you know, the way that we record now has completely changed. And, in actual fact, it kind of... it really... the possibilities and the permutations are sort of quite... are endless at the moment."
Ed: "So we can... As you said, it feels as though we could be doing this in four, five years time as opposed to just next year, which I think we've tended to, with the band... the records we made like The Bends and OK Computer, you know, 'we all live and die'... they were made with that intent like 'We should live and die by this' and 'This has got to be the best thing now, because we might not be doing this in a years' time', and for the first time this is... it feels as though there is a different way of making music now, the possibilities, and they don't have to be wrapped up in sort of playing as we did before."
Paul: "Yeah. With Thom, do you feel as if he has... how do you think he's going to cope with... once this album comes out, people are going to be dissecting the lyrics to buggery, 'cause they always do, loads of university graduates will be looking at 'How to Disappear Completely' and writing dissertations on it. How is he shaping up, in that respect, from being able to handle it? What do you think, Phil."
Phil: "I think at the moment... I mean... because we're out on tour at the moment... I mean, that in itself creates a little bit of a bubble, doesn't it?"
Ed: "Yeah, you have to."
Phil: "So, I think to a certain extent we're cutting ourselves off from that side of things, really."
Phil: "Um, and I don't know, we can't... we have absolutely no idea how this album is going to be received. So in terms of how, you know, we're going to respond, we'll have to see. But the great thing is, that we're going to be going back in and recording again in November. Which, for us, you know, was just like... would be five or six weeks after releasing an album! And that's an amazing position to be in. We've never been able to do that, we've had to leave it for at least sixteen months before we could actually start doing that again. So, you know, I think even though, you know, you do get the reviews coming through for the records or whatever, and... but you can actually move on from them. Because you're moving on to the next stage already. You can actually address the issues that come up from that very constructively in the studio, rather than sitting around, you know, stewing on tour thinking: 'well, there's nothing we can do about this, we're just going to go out and be a jukebox now for the next ten months or so.'"
Paul: "Another album is done, is it, it's finished?"
Ed: "Basically, yeah! You know, we've got tracks finished, we had two albums worth of material."
Ed: "And since some of the songs that we'd been playing live... a lot of them are the ones that are not on Kid A. New songs that aren't on Kid A. Songs like 'Knives Out'. I mean, people know them, they're all over the net probably, there's 'Knives Out', and there's one that's tentatively titled 'Egyptian Song'. And, they're amazing tracks... and 'I Might Be Wrong' and... but they just didn't make Kid A but they've got to be released, 'cause they're some of the best stuff we've ever done."
Paul: "There's a couple of e-mails that we had about some of them, um, which were - I must admit - new to me, but there's a couple of dodgy bootlegs off of Napster, I think 'Knives Out' was one of them."
Ed: "Well, that was the song that we did, that we played on the webcast."
Phil: "On the webcast."
Ed: "Yeah. Around the Christmas tree with acoustic guitars."
Phil: "Very Val Doonican, wasn't it."
Ed: "Bands for coddies."
Phil: "Coddies but nothing else."
Paul: "This is quite good: This is um 'Do you enjoy still playing the old material? Or has it become necessary?' and, uh, also, secondary question to this is: 'Now you've got rid of your guitars, can I have them?'"
Ed: "No. We might want them again."
Paul: "So, I know you said the set changes every night. But you played 'Just' last night, which you don't very often."
Ed: "Well, it depends, it's funny, it's like... some of the old songs work really well. Like, 'Just', we didn't play much in the European tour in the summer, 'Just' didn't feel right. But in this tour it feels great. 'Fake Plastic Trees' we sort of play, you know, every other night. Erm... I mean, there are songs like 'Paranoid' we've played every night, and 'Street Spirit', I think... No, we haven't played that every night."
Phil: "No. But... I think in the summer tour, there was a very stark contrast for us between the new material and the old material. At points it felt some of the old material was a bit like going through the motions, really. But, I think, you know, you actually have to find some kind of new angle on the new material, don't you? And actually try and bring... I think that there's like... because the new material now actually - because we've played it quite a bit - feels very familiar, it feels very established within the set. So, I think everything is on an equal footing now, really. And so, there isn't that level of contrast between the new and the old now."
Paul: "Right. And are you playing any songs that are on the new album, that we haven't seen yet, on this tour?"
Ed: "Well, on..."
Paul: "On the next album, the one that's coming out."
Ed: "Yeah, I mean, well last night we played 'Knives Out'..."
Paul: "Oh right..."
Ed: "We played..."
Phil: "'Dollars and Cents'."
Ed: "'Dollars and Cents'."
Paul: "When is this next album likely to see release?"
Phil: "Well, we haven't actually managed to find a tracklisting for it yet."
Ed: "We've got to do that..."
Phil: "We've got to do that, yeah. Take a note... (laughter) But we don't want to leave it too long, really. Because all this material came out at the same sessions as well, so, you know... if it was like a year down the line after Kid A it would just... you'd just feel as though you're flogging the same horse for quite a while, really."
Ed: "It would be great if it was... I think the idea is to have it before April of next year."
Ed: "So, or April... March, April, that would be ideal. Because, you know... I mean, I think that one of the things that we've tried to - with this whole way we're doing it now, touring when we want to, recording - we want to just get into a cycle of basically bringing out a record every year. You know, like Bowie did in the seventies. He was like, he just used to throw it out, and I think we feel that, at the moment, that there's... 2, 3 years to wait for a record involves too much scrutiny, and we're terrible at that. You know, I think we haven't really got back to that stage where we felt like we could throw stuff out, you know. And that would be really exciting. And part of that is... if you do that, a record every year, yeah, ok, then the odd duff track comes out, that you think at the time is great, but in hindsight, doesn't stand up to. But I think we'd much rather do that then kind of that level of scrutiny that we had for The Bends and OK Computer, that is really, really wearing, and means that you actually only bring out a record every 2 or 3 years. So there is a kind of trade-off that goes on there."
Paul: "But that will be incredible, if you are that prolific, at the moment, and you're on that creative roll, then why not, I guess."
Ed: "Yeah, you've got to... you've gotta... it's like a window of opportunity, if you've got it, you've got to grab it. Because you ain't... if you're honest about bands, you do - when you look at the history of bands, and the way that bands, in music, and in the history of rock and roll - they have their peak periods, and it feels like we're kind of just getting in there, we really are. I mean, that... and we've got to grab it, 'cause if we... It won't be around in ten years time. You know, it just, the nature of it is, it just doesn't, you know. You look at it... if it were to, then it would be astonishing, but..."
Paul: "Are you aware that maybe with Kid A, some of the people that you may have brought in, like with 'Paranoid Android', for example, first time I heard that it was like, 'This is 'Bohemian Rhapsody' meets 'Good Vibrations''...or, The Pixies, right... That sort of opened some doors to people that kind of maybe... you know, they knew 'Creep', but they didn't know anything else. You might have pissed those people off entirely now with Kid A, and you may have alienated a few people. Are you aware of the kind of... I mean, I'm trying to think, is it a brave decision with Kid A, or is it a risky decision, do you think? Or do you not see it in those terms?"
Ed: "It's the only decision."
Phil: "Yeah, it's true. It's the only album we could have made. If we hadn't made that album, I mean - short of sounding melodramatic about it - but we wouldn't have actually made an album. It wouldn't have existed as the band anymore. So, um, yes. We don't enjoy playing it safe..."
Phil: "...or making the obvious decisions, really."
Ed: "And we've never made records to... because we thought that people who'd liked our past records, you know... God forbid, you know, imagine if we were trying to make a record like The Bends after releasing a single like Pop Is Dead. (laughs) 'You know, people like 'Pop Is Dead', so do'... I mean, it doesn't work like that."
Phil: "I mean, and inevitably there's going to be some people who liked OK Computer who won't like Kid A."
Phil: "But there will be other music out there that they'll like. We're only part of like a much bigger picture, really."
Paul: "Is there anything left to prove for Radiohead, Phil, do you think?"
Phil: "Anything for us to prove... Uh... I think, actually... yesterday we finally got the finished product of Kid A in our hands, with all the artwork and everything. And that was a very satisfying moment, 'cause it seemed very unlikely that we would reach that stage at points last year, didn't it? So that felt as though it proved something to us, on a very personal level, I think. But whether we've got things to prove now... I don't know if that's the right way to approach things now. I think it's driven the process along until now."
Ed: "Before, yeah."
Phil: "But, err... that can actually be a very negative process, really. I think, you know... we're actually... we want to, actually, the whole thing to be driven along now by this sense that 'Yeah, we love doing this', this is like a real celebration of music, or whatever, and we enjoy working together, the five of us, and with Nigel as well, when we're in the studio! There is something there that works! So, yeah..."
Phil: "A very roundabout answer to that question."
Paul: "It was a very good answer! Roundabout, but good! I know there's loads of things that people wanted to ask you. There was a couple of things about Jubilee 2000, which I know people wanted to get... I mean, essentially if you go to your website, there's ways and means, and you point them in the right direction of what they can do, and how they can get involved in that. So, I won't take up any more time talking about that."
Paul: "But, I'm going to play 'Optimistic', so, that's fast becoming my favorite record, only because you drum like a whirling dervish on it! And I can't wait... do you do that live? Say you do that live..."
Phil: "We do!"
Paul: "Fantastic! Great, 'cause I'm gonna see that tonight. Um, so tell me about 'Optimistic', which is - if I'm right in thinking - is the first sort of full band record, err, track on the record, it seems, anyway."
Ed: "Well, after, um, after 'How to Disappear'."
Paul: "Yeah, right, ok. So..."
Ed: "Again, you know... We... It was one of those tracks that seemed to work, it was one of the few tracks that seemed to work in a band format, playing in a room. And it slightly suffered because it was... because we were trying to move away from that. And it was that kind of fighting against, 'ok, this is working, but maybe we should try it somehow... how should we try this different?', and eventually we got to the stage of... you sort of... you go 'Ok, well this is one of those tracks that does work like we're in a band playing in a room, so...'"
Paul: "I think that it's one of the strengths of the album. A lot has been made of this experimental side - and that's fantastic of course - One of the strengths of the album, it seems, for me, and is a compelling and bizarre, and... takes you to places that you wouldn't have thought you'd go with Radiohead, but the balance that you've got, between what you're saying..."
Ed: "Yeah. I mean, that's the thing that you... but that's like what you were saying earlier about... you do the experimental stuff but... and you ditch the guitar or whatever, and then the classic setup, for two months. But when you go back to it, it's like 'Aw, this is great', you know, the actual physical thing of being in a room and... And we had spent like fifteen years getting to this position of a school band who start off barely being able to play their instruments. And there's this perpetual struggle that goes on, you know, when you're trying to find... and after fifteen years, or after three records, and x amount of gigs, and you just realise that 'Oh yeah, we can play pretty well together'. And it's nice that those tracks on Kid A, that reflect that as well... and it's the real deal, you know, as they say."
Ed: "Or maybe they don't say. (laughs)"
Phil: "Only in your part of town."
Ed: "Yeah, man."
Paul: "Thank you so much for spending the time with us today! It's been an absolute delight talking to you.
Ed: "A pleasure. Thanks a lot."
Paul: "I hope it's not been too much of a trial for you!"
Ed: "No, not at all!"
Paul: "And, you know, again... it seems trite, but best luck with the album, 'cause I know that it's gonna confound a few people. And that's not a bad thing..."
Ed: "That's a good thing, yeah!"
Paul: "It's about time a few more bands pushed the envelope a but further. And I can't wait to see you tonight! Thanks for taking the time out."