Main Index >> Media Index >> Hail to the Thief Media | USA Media | 2003 Interviews
[applause]

DJ: Quite a welcome! Good morning guys, how are you?

Thom: Good morning!

DJ: Nice to see you. You know, you're one week too early to be here for Governor Schwarzenegger. How 'bout that, huh?

Thom: Has he won, has he?

DJ: Well in a week, pretty much.

[boos]

Thom: The Supreme Court decided, didn't they.

DJ: What do you guys think, as you sit on your little island, and you look at America? Is all of Britain laughing at us, now that Schwarzenegger is going to be our Governor in a week? Is it the craziest thing that you've ever heard?

Thom: It's crazy that it's a fix by the Republicans, yeah.

DJ: That's how it works! It's kind of tough for us to make fun of the Queen and stuff, when we've got freakin' Arnold running the place, you know? Well it's fantastic to see you. How was your weekend? How were your Southern California shows, from your perspective? What's the difference between playing the Hollywood Bowl, and doing a small set of people like this morning, with just a couple of you? Do you prefer one or the other?

Phil: It's a lot cheaper doing this.

DJ: Sure, and a lot easier on your!

Thom: [inaudible]

DJ: Right, sure. We talked of course, I don't know if you've met your fans that are here today at the Capitol Records Tower

[applause]

DJ: How many of you were at either the Hollywood Bowls or the San Diego shows this week?

[applause]

DJ: And how many of you sneaked in because you didn't have a ticket, you got a job as a waiter, or you climbed a fence? We talked to all of those people here this morning. Yeah, we've had a lot of those sneakers. Do you get any kind of different vibe from that particular venue, just because it is so famous and so storied? It's not like playing a theater that's been around since like 1998 or something, it's the real deal.

Thom: Um, I didn't realize quite how many people there was, cause it feels like a really small gig.

DJ: Yeah?

Thom: But it's like 18,000 or something stupid, which is insane, cause it doesn't feel like that. Um, it's taken the hair off us, hasn't it?

DJ: It wipes you out.

Ed: Yeah, you know, cause it's LA, it's the full-on, you arrive and its, "Wo-oa-oah-ah-ah!"

[laughter]

Thom: We really did have that, didn't we! We've had the full Hollywood fix.

DJ: Well you know, fans of your band always get excited when you go on tour, and then nervous that you're going to hate it and quit!

[laughter]

DJ: So, we're just always happy that you actually show up and you play, and then you say you'll come back. That makes us feel great!

Thom: You should see the legal consequences if you blow it out.

DJ: Yeah I'm sure. Now a lot of people around the radio station that went to show this weekend were talking about the fact that you dusted off Creep for the weekend, which was a total surprise!

[applause]

DJ: And I only bring it up because I know you guys have had a kind of an odd history with that particular song, where you did not play it for a real long time. What gets in your mind that, "Hey, let's crack that one open tonight."

Jonny: Songs can just start sounding good. It's like, we didn't play No Surprises for about two years, and then we tried it one night and it sounded good again. So, it kind of comes and goes, really.

DJ: Is it great to be in a position where you have that much material to draw on now. Like when you first start out you have an album, and you play it all. Now you have, you know, seven albums. Is it great to have a lot of different songs to choose from, depending on what vibe you want, what feeling you've got?

Ed: Yes.

[laughter]

DJ: Ok, good. Good answer!

Thom: DON'T DO THAT!

Ed: Of course it is, yeah. I mean when we do the set each night it's different. And when we were touring Pablo Honey it was the same 12 songs plus a few B-sides. And it's more fun! You don't get bored. I mean, that's the thing for us, the reason why we sort of used to get, used to hate touring. It was just a boredom factor, by the end of it, you would just... you know.

Thom: I think sometimes, cause we come to the gigs that morning and we say "What do we want to play today?" And usually the list that we come up with reflects where we're at that day, as well, which is quite interesting. I mean, the only reason Creep occurred was because it felt like a really good thing to do that day.

Ed: Well cause Jim suggested it.

Thom: Oh was it? Oh it's your fault then.

DJ: Way to go, Jim.

[laughter]

DJ: You know we heard so much about when you were putting the songs together for the Hail to the Thief CD that you debuted a lot of them live on stage in front of poeple to kind of see how they felt, see how they went over, see if you liked them? Is that a regular occurrence for you? Is that something you do often? Is that something you'll do on this tour, with new songs?

Thom: No, it isn't, really. Because I think what we'll do next it take a different sort of method, it's going to be much more random. On this one we were very much, we were working really fast. We wanted Hail to the Thief to be a fast, you know, very much about performance. And so we had to go and rehearse, and we had to, playing in front of people just meant you had to knock off the bits that didn't work. It was very obvious, because people would just be looking at you with "that look."

[laughter]

DJ: Speaking of that, do you notice people are looking at you when you're playing? Can you kind of look in their eyes?

Thom: Sometimes.

DJ: The rest of you guys?

Band: Yeah.

DJ: A lot of times you can't see anything from up on the stage just because the way the lights work out, you don't know whether folks are grooving on it or not.

Ed: Well that was thing about the Hollywood Bowl, because you can just literally see sort of the first 20 yards, and you can't see if it's, it's like...

Thom: Actually the first 20 yards looks pretty much the same here at the moment.

[laughter]

Ed: A lot of same faces.

DJ: I'm glad you brought that up. We should mention if we haven't, we're in a tiny room for an event like this, it's historic Studio A here at Capitol Records in Hollywood where some great music has been recorded over the last 60 years or so, and some great music will be recorded here this morning as the guys play a little bit later on on KROQ. Shall we go out to the audience and get some questions for the band Radiohead this morning. How about you in the very front, give me your name and your question.

Fan: Um, my name is, actually this question was somebody else's cause she's scared-

DJ: THIEF! THIEF! CHICKEN!

Fan: Um, my name is Affa, I'm actually in a band, that's the reason for this question. Do you have any advice for newer groups, I mean very new, that are trying to strive to do something different, that's not quite what is commercial at this moment. Do you have any advice to go about making it when you're not like everyone else, which is what you are.

Thom: Erm, uh. How do you say this politely...

[laughter]

DJ: Don't suck?

Thom: Yeah! At the moment I think the climate is very peculiar but I don't think it's going to stay like that, because as with all corporate entities they tend to eat themselves whole, and then die out.

DJ: The climate is much tougher right now?

Thom: Yeeeah.

DJ: So wait 5 years, and then try again.

[laughter]

DJ: If at first you don't succeed... Do you feel at this point that you have any obligation to commercial considerations when you go in the studio and record a new record? You know you've got a label that is counting on making money off of you that year. Is that something that ever enters into your thought process?

Ed: No. Cause it never has. I mean you know, the whole thing about this is-

Thom: I think it did for 10 minutes actually.

Ed: Did it?

Thom: Yeah. After Creep.

Ed: Oh right, yeah.

Thom: Someone mentioned it, briefly?

[laughter]

Ed: Yeah.

[someone makes a gagging noise]

Ed: You know, it kind of reverts to the question you said, we started off as a band as like, a bunch of 16 and 17 year olds just doing it for fun. And we played all sorts of different styles of music, the first 4 years, 5 years.

Thom: Still do.

Ed: Still do. And it always goes back to that. The rehearsal studio, having a laugh. That's the core of it. So once you bring the other commercial considerations, we have managers that deal with that. That's what they're supposed to do...

Thom: [snickers]

DJ: Why are you laughing, Thom? You're thinking how much better your job is than his, aren't you?

Thom: Yeah.

DJ: Do you think your music would be the same, say, on this current album if you weren't popular. If you were selling 15,000 copies of your album would have turned out the same?

Thom: Never. You can't- I think the whole point of the music is the audience is a vital part of how the music develops. I just don't think... It's funny because someone pinned me down- I was being pinned down quite a lot after the shows, and someone said, "You know, I've been in a band for 10 years, it's going nowhere, I don't what to do, I write all these songs..." And I'm like, "Well, do you play them to people? Do you give people tapes and CDs?" "No." "Well there you go!"

[laughter]

Thom: Because the whole point is you never develop, you never know what you're doing unless you have a relationship with an audience that tells you, somehow or another. And it doesn't dictate what you do next, but it makes you see it in another way. Otherwise you're working in isolation, which is pointless.

DJ: Alright who wants to hear this band play? Let's do that next.

[applause]

[Everything In Its Right Place]

DJ: Let's go back out to the audience, who's next?

Fan: Hi my name is Christine, and I'm from Los Angeles. My question is for Thom Yorke: I was wondering, has a child changed how you approach songwriting, and has it changed how you see the world?

Thom: Ah, it's certainly changed the way I see the world, yeah. Ahhhhhh... just because, this is really obvious, stupid stuff, but you start thinking about the future, and the monkeys that are in charge...

[scattered applause]

Thom: And that makes you very angry, but it also makes you want to do something about it.

DJ: How about songwriting?

Thom: Yeah, I think it um... Yes. Well I was, personally speaking, to be honest, going through a period of not understanding, for a few years, not quite understanding what the purpose of what we were doing was. Ask the others, they know. And then suddenly, "Oh, ok." It was sort of fairly simple. Sort of seemed to simplify things a bit. [to the band] Don't you agree?

Jonny: Yeah!

DJ: How many of the rest of you have kids? That you know of?

[laughter]

DJ: Having kids seems to be one of those things that everybody says exactly what it's going to be like and then it always is. You never hear somebody say, "Yeah, it really kind of sucks." Or, "Yeah, it really didn't change things at all." It's always pretty much guaranteed that you're going to feel the way you're supposed to feel by the time it happens, I guess.

Thom: Maybe it's hormones.

[laughter]

DJ: Maybe so. Alright let's go back out for another question, who do we have out there?

Fan: Hi, my name is Gill. First of all I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you guys for years of good music.

[applause]

Fan: Also, I'm a pretty good guitarist. Do you think you guys have an opening in the band?

[laughter]

Thom: Uh, do we have any?

Ed: I fancy a sabbatical for a couple of years.

[laughter]

Fan: No, but I have a serious question, for Thom. What was it like working with Bjork and PJ Harvey.

Thom: Um, it was quite interesting because it was just coming out, when I did both those sessions it was just as we were finishing our mammoth sessions for Kid A and Amnesiac. And um, you know, it was interesting to just walk into someone else's working pattern, or whatever you want to call it. [laughs] And they were both sort of really relaxed...

[laughter]

Thom: Like, all right, there's another way to do this you've got! It was nice just not being responsible for what was going on. I did what I was told. I mean you would, wouldn't you?

[laughter]

DJ: That's a good question, thank you. You know, he made reference to something that I wanted to ask you about...

[laughter]

DJ: ...is there any opening in band. Because I've read in interviews over the years where you've said, "No one's replaceable in Radiohead." Do I read that to mean that if somebody leaves, that's it, end of the band, there's no going on, to replace a member, that would not happen in your group? Or would it depend on who leaves?

[Thom laughs loudly]

Thom: Eeeeeeh.

DJ: We don't know!

Ed: We're kind of not old enough, really.

Thom: What do you mean? I'm old enough!

Ed: Well... I dunno.

DJ: What do you mean? I mean I ask because you see a band like The Who out there, and there's one guy who used to live next door to a guy who as in the band, still in the band? You know? That's about the extent of connection to the original group? And I was just wondering what it would take to still be called Radiohead. Would it take all five, absolutely, no exceptions?

Thom: I think it probably would. Really. I can't see that it...

[applause]

Thom: I can't really see how it would work at all, to be honest.

DJ: Fair enough. Who wants to hear another song from Radiohead?

[Knives Out]

DJ: Back out to the audience, who's next please.

Fan: Hi, my name's Aleisha, and I have a question for everyone in the band. What contemporary musicians or bands, beside yourselves, do you think are truly doing unique and worthwhile music.

DJ: They're all sitting back and thinking.

Thom: [clears throat]

DJ: Nobody wants to say Justin Timberlake, right? No one wants to be the first.

Thom: I like some of the lights in his video.

[laughter]

DJ: This is an opportunity for maybe someone who's a little unheralded, that you can spread the word on, that we don't already know about?

Thom: Well they don't have to be unheralded, necessarily.

DJ: JUST ANY NAME. JUST A NAME.

Thom: Ok. Squarepusher, mostly he doesn't get enough attention.

[scattered applause]

Thom: Madlib, well you know Madlib, obviously.

[silence]

Thom: Don't you know... Madlib? Madlib!

Jonny: Four Tet.

Thom: Yeah.

Jonny: Steven Malkmus and the Jicks

Ed: Malkmus, yeah.

Jonny: That record's genius.

Thom: That record, Pig Lips, should be a massive hit. We just don't get it.

DJ: As a band you don't see why that wasn't a hit?

Thom: I just do not get it. I don't understand. I don't understand why Felix the Housecat, why that record wasn't a massive number one around the world. I've got this obssesion with all the records that should have been screaming hits but weren't.

DJ: It's a good thing you're not an A&R man!

[laughter]

Thom: Ooh, I'd be... Ooh!

DJ: Do you have a decent feel for you own band, and what's going to be received well?

Thom: No.

DJ: No? Not at all? Are you surprised by some of things that the audience just reacts to crazy, and you never thought they would?

Thom: Constantly.

DJ: How many songs do you guys know that you could play, theoretically, I'm not going to ask you to, but theoretically, that aren't your own. Like when you're rehearsing, and you go, "Hey, let's do ____" and fill in the blank with someone else's song. Would you be able to do that?

Jonny: We've done about three or four, haven't we?

DJ: That's about it. So in other words, if someone hired you for the cover band for the night-

Thom: We'd be shite!

Ed: We'd be terrible.

DJ: "Thanks for coming, everybody, that's all we know! Goodnight!"

[laughter]

DJ: Thom and Jonny on the stage, it's Radiohead live...

[No Surprises]

DJ: Alright, where are you in the audience, right here, Mr. Spam go ahead. By the way, how dumb do you have to be to walk around in 2003 with a shirt that says SPAM on it?

Fan: Hey you know that's the number one canned meat in the world!

[laughter]

DJ: Alright, name and question please.

Fan: My name's Rich, and I read somewhere that one of you had said that you really hate answering questions like, "If you were an ice cream flavor which would you be..."

DJ: Sooooo...?

Fan: So if you were a berr- no, just kidding. During the early Radiohead days, when britpop was huge in England the media would constantly classify each new band as the next big thing. How do you think Radiohead avoided being thrown into that?

Thom: Well I think I know, you...

Jonny: The story's much more interesting when it's like two halfs, isn't it. And there's Oasis and Blur, so it's like...

Thom: Yes, very interesting.

Colin: We're not a part of that, really.

DJ: In other words, there was no one for you to be pitted against, is that what you're saying?

Colin: Well I don't think anyone would ever want to be associated with all of us anyway.

[laughter]

Ed: Well we were kind of a non-story in the UK really. I mean they saw us as having this hit over in America and they thought, I mean we had for the first year and a half, we had really bad press, and they thought we were "lily-livered excuse for rock music."

Thom: I "gurned" my way through the set.

Ed: Yeah!

Thom: I particularly liked that one.

DJ: That still haunts you, doesn't it.

Thom: Well I still do!

[laughter]

Thom: ...bastard!

DJ: Now this is a difficult question for me to ask, because so many people think so highly of your band. I just read an interview with David Bowie the other day where he said Radiohead was the greatest band in the world today. Okay?

[applause]

DJ: Thom looks very surprised by that. I don't expect you to agree with that, because you're modest fellows, so is there somebody you think is the greatest band in the world today?

Thom: We're not really into bands.

[laughter]

Thom: Actually, Malkmus and the Jicks.

DJ: I mean is there someone who you think, because it seems like in this competitive world we live in today there's always somebody who's going to be cover boy, white hot... No? Not at all.

Thom: Well we don't listen to that sort of music a lot, do we really?

Ed: I think [inaudible] next record is going to be really good.

Thom: Yeah.

Ed: We played a couple nights with them in Japan and it was awesome. The tracks were just incredible.

Thom: I'm really into the Chili Peppers as well at the moment. I think that they're...

[applause]

Thom: They've seen a lot, but they're playing better now than they've ever done times ten. The way that Chad plays the drums now, and they obviously in such a good space and the music's really joyful.

DJ: Who's next at Capitol Records with Radiohead.

Fan: Hi my name's Vanessa and I'm from Temple City. I have a very important question: How often do you call your mothers?

Thom: That's way to personal a question. Next.

DJ: Ok who's next, over here.

Fan: Hi I'm Jill. This question is for Thom. Where do you think you'd be if you'd never made it as a musician?

Thom: In a mental home.

[laughter]

DJ: He doesn't act like he's kidding either, by the way!

Thom: No, I'm not.

DJ: Who wants to here another song, shall we?

[There There]

DJ: I'm getting told that we just have time for a few more questions.

Fan: Hi I'm Kiri, from Corona. My question is for the whole band. If you could date one member of the band, who would it be and why?

[laughter]

Ed: [laughs]

DJ: Sorry that was one of them! Sorry that made the cut

Thom: That's gonna haunt me now!

Colin: Well we used to share rooms, so it was like, me and...

Thom: No! You don't want to answer that!

Ed: Let's not go there!

Colin: Well no but I mean, you know...

DJ: Let me ask you a few questions about the future, because I read, and tell me if this is true, that you've recently signed a new record contract?

Thom: [laughs hysterically]

DJ: Or no? It's not true.

Jonny: Who put that one in there? Was it from Capitol?

Thom: How much was it worth?

DJ: I think I read in Q magazine, that you just signed a new deal for a succession of albums?

Thom: Ahhh, yes. We don't read that one.

Ed: We've got some record company person on the management here to answer that right now.

DJ: Ok, so no.

Colin: Nice try.

DJ: Any chance that, you have so many songs that have never come out in proper albums or in a box set collection, or something, you have something like 30 b-sides out there that none of us can afford to buy them all. Any chance of a Radiohead collection at some point, that you might give everybody an opportunity to buy those.

Jonny: Yeah Colin keeps talking about going through them and

Thom: [laughs] You haven't done anything!

Colin: I have done it! I've done it, we've both done it, Ed and I have done, like talked about it.

Jonny: So yeah, we want to.

Thom: Yeah, "done it"-"talked about it".

Ed: We haven't done a tracklist.

Colin: Yeah! Yeah!

DJ: So it's potentially on the dry-board there.

Thom: Yeah.

DJ: Someone made reference earlier to the phase the band is maybe at the end of with these last three albums, and Thom you said something about what you thought the next direction would be. Can you tell us anything more about that, what the next record might sound like?

Thom: I think we're just going to start releasing little bits of the whole method in which we work. You know the way people listen to music is changing quite a lot anyway, erm, and I think for Radiohead there's been too much pressure on this sort of album thing, and the level of scrutiny, and critics working themselves into a nice healthy little froth about bugger all, and I think we want to try and get away from that somehow also by releasing records in other ways, and easing the pressure off, and wandering off into the unknown again. Finishing this record for me personally, making this record was really fun, but when it got to the stage where it was an album, and had to do it like an album, and all that sort of shit, it nearly killed me. I couldn't take it.

DJ: Have you seen what the band Ben Folds Five is doing, where they're releasing an EP every month or two online, for their fans, rather than waiting, collecting songs, and making an album out of it, because they figure it's nice to be able to write a song, record it, and get it out there to the people who want to buy it.

Jonny: Hmmm.

Thom: Kind of, that's sort of it, but not quite, is it?

Jonny: But records are still exciting, and CDs are still exciting.

Thom: Ultimately is should be... uh, we don't want to sort of release stuff because we have to, I dunno, we'll see. We're confused.

DJ: We'll take two more questions... I think they're telling us we're done, so no more questions.

Thom: No, let's take two more questions!

DJ: OK! Two more, great!

Fan: Hi, I'm Danielle and I'm from Cardiff, Wales-

Thom: Are you!?

Fan: I am. I was born there and then I lived in Middlesburg for about 6-7 years.

Thom: That explains it.

Fan: My question was, I was wondering how do any of you deal with the emotional intensity your fans feel for you, and not just the music.

Thom: Well personally speaking, I've got this thing now where I don't consider it my own, which just sort of makes it easier. I've this running joke that it's sort of beamed to you, and you get given it? This is Philip K. Dick's thing, you know? He used to take loads of speed and believe there was an angel telling him the stories. I don't take the speed, but I've got the ESP.

[laughter]

DJ: You've got the angel.

Thom: Yeah, and I don't feel responsible for it like I used to. I don't disown it but it's sort of like, it's sort of nothing to do with me. It's just my job. You know, and the way that we work and when things happen, it's just like they happen because someone's decided that they're going to happen. And we're simply there to let that occure. Which sounds... It's the easiest way of explaining it really, because you can bash your head against the wall for years, but ultimately you discover that all the best music happens by accident, and those accidents were someone else pushing your elbow, or whatever. They're not you.

DJ: That makes a lot of sense. By the way, do you guys want to see a fan who has a tattoo of the Kid A logo on her ass? Are you guys interested in that at all? She prommised to show it, so...

[wild applause]

DJ: What's your name?

Fan: Deliah.

DJ: How long have you heard it.

Fan: For like a year.

DJ: Like a year. Radiohead would like to see your ass, please. Only Radiohead, you don't have to show the audience.

Thom: This must be KROQ. [laughs]

[applause]

DJ: Very nice! Let's do one more.

Fan: Hi I'm Elizabeth from Montvalo. My question is, other than your music, what do you love to do? Fetish or hobby. Every member of the band.

Thom: Did you say "fetish"?

Fan: Or hobby!

Thom: Gardening

Colin: Sleep.

DJ: Gardening?

Thom: Yeah!

DJ: There's a proper English lad right there.

Ed: I watch football on the TV.

DJ: And by football of course he means soccer.

Ed: Soccer. Not... your... game.

DJ: Any other answers?

Jonny: I've got a very small, yippy dog that I take for long walks.

DJ: That's very nice! Who wants to hear another song from Radiohead?

[I Might Be Wrong]