Main Index >> Media Index >> OK Computer Media | USA Media | 1997 Interviews

[recording starts here]

DJ: "Radiohead is a British rock group that is increasingly popular here. They had good luck with an album called Pablo Honey, the track called 'Creep' was their first hit in the United States."

[Plays 'Creep']

DJ: "Radiohead toured with R.E.M. here and overseas, and they have a new album out called OK Computer. Two members of the band - there are five - are here to talk about their music, Colin Greenwood, who plays bass guitar, and Ed O'Brien, who plays guitar and sings. Now, this album is a departure from your previous albums."

Ed: "What we're always trying to do is make a different sounding record, and it sounds different from anything we've done before, and we have a responsibility, we feel, as musicians to... that this is an ongoing and it's an educational thing for us, so part of that... the way we did it was very different from previous albums, we weren't in a conventional recording studio."

Colin: "We recorded in like atmospheric places, and rooms in this old country house. I think that's one of the things that makes this record different, is the fact that we managed to capture like these old sort of fifteenth through to eighteenth century rooms that we recorded a lot of the album in."

DJ: "The place that you recorded it is a house belonging to the English actress, Jane Seymour, right?"

Colin: "Yes, that's right."

DJ: "We know her here as Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman. I'm interested that you think that rooms from another century somehow find their way into a recording."

Ed: (Laughs)

Colin: "Yes, well, but yeah, of course they do, because the atmosphere... because you set up a bunch of microphones in a room, and the ambiance is going to be different from room to room, combined with the performance, the response that you get from the artist who's committing whatever they're doing to tape, you know, they're obviously going to respond to a room which has like got a fireplace and whatever, or a room that's got like four big bouncy Mr Jello bears, or Barney The Dinosaur, it's going to be like a different experience every time, so there's a point to it."

DJ: "So you just moved through the house looking for..."

Colin: "Yeah, I mean it does sound a bit like a sort of seventies progressive rock type thing (Ed and DJ laugh), but it was more the fact... it was more about the isolation than the geography of the place, the fact that it was located in this valley in the middle of nowhere and there was like no sense of time running, and stuff like that."

DJ: "'Paranoid Android', which is the second track on the CD, is a very beautiful song, it has lots of... lots of parts of it that are pretty (Ed and Colin laugh). Were you shooting for pretty?"

Colin: "Ummm..."

Ed: "We did most of the sort of the working out of the song in rehearsal. We spend a lot of time rehearsing. We basically had three and a half songs, and we wanted to put them into one song. We did a condensed six and a half minute version of it, and you know, it's basically really three parts and, erm..."

Colin: "It's like a trilogy, isn't it, Ed?"

Ed: "Yeah, it's a trilogy, man (DJ laughs). We're going into that whole capturing... capturing that seventies thing."

[Plays first section of 'Paranoid Android']

DJ: "Part one starts with the person saying 'please could you stop the noise, I'm trying to get some rest'."

Ed: "Yeah, part one is basically verse, chorus, verse, chorus, (Colin laughs) part two is a kind of a... and then it's 'gucci little piggies', and part three is the 'rain down' section, but you know, that's... it's erm..."

Colin: "Then what happens after 'rain down' though?"

Ed: "We go back into the... we go back into the refrain, which is the second part."

Colin: "So what, so you just call it the second part, the last part of the song?"

Ed: "We just call it the 'gucci piggies' part."

[Plays second section of 'Paranoid Android']

DJ: "There is another song on the album that is really, really pretty, a very lovely sounding song that is sung in a very pretty and lyrical way, and it turns out to have the most awful words to it (Ed and Colin laugh), when I started reading the liner notes, and saw what the words were... you know, I'm talking about 'Let Down'."

Colin: "Ok."

Ed: "Right."

Colin: "I thought you would be, yes."

DJ: "(laughs) What is that about?"

Ed: "'Let Down', Colin."

DJ: "Come on, Colin."

Colin: "Well, I think, erm... What's that song about? Gosh, that's a question, isn't it?"

Ed: "That's a toughie, isn't it? Come on. (laughs)"

Colin: "That's a poser. Test your analysis."

DJ: "Well, you have lovely lyrics like 'crushed like a bug in the ground', which comes in on a very pretty phrase in the song."

Colin: "Exactly, the arrangement... the actual instrumentation is quite delicate and you know, contrasted with the heaviness of the lyrics."

[Plays 'Let Down']

Colin: "It's just a good tune isn't it, really? I mean, I don't really sort of think past the guitars and the drums personally, just keep my head down (Ed and DJ laugh), and try not to poke out too much, that's all really. (laughs)"

DJ: "I've gone through entire election seasons just like that."

Colin: "Yes, (laughs). Very wise."

DJ: "Which brings me to..."

Ed: "'Electioneering'."

DJ: "Yes."

Colin: "Ah yeah."

DJ: "I very much like the rock tracks on the album, but 'Electioneering' is very rocky."

Colin: "It is a rocky track, yes. (laughs)"

DJ: "But it combines two things that I like, you know, politics and rock and roll, but the phrase 'voodoo economics' occurs in this song."

Ed: "Mmmm. We were having a discussion the other night, I was talking to Thom, and we were talking about going back to college sometime, and he's just got a real interest in politics and I think that the whole... he sometimes sees the whole thing of being a... going around and being on tour, shaking people's hands, and meeting people, lots of meet and greets and stuff like that, there is a sort of a similarity felt with politicians when they're on their soapbox or whatever, around election time."

[Plays 'Electioneering']

DJ: "Do you think that you and this group is swimming against the tide here with melodies, with very accomplished musicianship, with a beautiful voice... there are places in this recording where you hear echoes of, you know, even something as sweet as Paul McCartney."

Colin: "Well, Ed's a big Paul McCartney fan, so..."

Ed: "When he was in The Beatles."

DJ: "(laughs) Yes, when he was in The Beatles. And you play real instruments, there's not so much electronic computerised music on here."

Colin: "Yes, I know, yes, because we... well, we wanted to, but then we found we didn't know how to plug the things in once we'd bought them, so we had to go back to the old four strings and the six strings, but that was alright, that was a good thing."

Ed: "A lot of people a lot of the time in America, in the American music industry second guess what the audience want, what the public want... they haven't a clue. People basically don't have an idea and if they say they do, they're lying, they're lying."

[Plays 'Subterranean Homesick Alien']

DJ: "Ed O'Brien and Colin Greenwood of Radiohead. Their new album is called OK Computer. You're listening to NPR's 'All Things Considered'."

[recording ends]