Main Index Pablo Honey The Bends OK Computer Kid A Amnesiac Hail to the Thief In Rainbows The King of Limbs A Moon Shaped Pool Thom Yorke Jonny Greenwood Ed O'Brien Colin Greenwood Philip Selway
As was the case with 'Pyramid Song', the Charles Mingus track 'Freedom' was a huge inspiration for 'We Suck Young Blood'. And like most songs on Hail To The Thief, its roots go back to the Kid A/Amnesiac days. The following (quite simplistic) page appeared in radiohead.com under the title 'black rabbit'. The original html file was created on september 27th 2000, while Radiohead were working on tracks for Amnesiac:
coem wurk for us we want zee young blood nowt good eenuff we want zzzeee yung blud











In spring 2001, around the time Amnesiac was released, the following two sets of early lyrics appeared in the 'imaginery prisons' section of radiohead.com:




wont let the nervous bury me
wont let the creeping ivy
we want the young blood
we want the sweet meats.

our veins are thin
our rivers poisoned
come work for us

hmmm
not good enough
we suck the young the blood
we want the young blood.
we want the sweet meats
they help keep us young
we want the young blood.



The second one also contains a line, that would end up as the song's alternate title, 'Your Time Is Up':




motheaten?
fleabitten?
your time is up

we want zee young blood.
are you creeping like ivy?
are you shareholding?
we suck young blood

are you hungry?
and sick?
are begging for a break?
are you sweet?
are you fresh?
do you got splinters in your legs?
(put em in the sheepdip!)
we want only young blood.
are torn at the seams?
are you scavenging?
are you fracturing?
are you strung up by the wrists?
are you pasty and pale?
(ego the size of Brazil?)



In May 2001, the song was played under the title 'Bring On The New Blood' during rehearsals for the upcoming Amnesiac tour, but ultimately (unlike 'Reckoner') it wasn't performed live.

At the end of the 2001 Japan tour (likely October 4th), the band was interviewed for The Face magazine. The January 2002 article mentions a song that could be an early version of 'We Suck Young Blood', but clear identification is difficult on the basis of what is known, it might as well be a completely different song, though not many Hail To The Thief tracks would fit this description (see Quotes section for the relevant part of the article). At any rate, it wouldn't be strange if it was an early version of 'We Suck Young Blood', since it had already been rehearsed months before.
"And on a late-May afternoon at Bray Studios, a film-production complex on the Thames River outside London, Radiohead are rehearsing for a summer tour that includes their first extended U.S. visit since that '97-'98 death March.
There are new songs too. At Bray Studios, they tested one called "The Reckoner," and Colin says Yorke has another new corker, "Bring On the New Blood," about "these multiplatinum artists hooking up with the latest French disco producer to do their new record." Regardless of what anyone thinks of Kid A or Amnesiac, Colin says Radiohead never were, or ever will be, that desperate."
"Radiohead soundcheck with 'Knives Out' and a new tune with no name and mumbled words. It is a clanging, driving thing, a bit Doors-like, full of swampy blues riffs."
Thom: "'We Suck Young Blood'... hmm, yeah... I mean, I think that's funny. That track to me is funny. I mean, sort of... I mean, it's sort of so vaudeville and like... we had all these fantasies about... when we were recording it we had... Paul Thomas Anderson came to the studio, and he brought this camera with him, which was a 1920s... it was exactly the same camera model, that they shot the original Nosferatu on. This camera is basically just a box and you wind it. And you have to have a sort of tempo to wind it to. And if you wind it fast or slow you get this extraordinary movement. And we wanted to shoot this sort of really over the top, vaudeville sort of b-movie thing with it. Because that to me was totally where it was coming from, you know. And also it's really sick, and sort of like sexual in a really perverse way. Very L.A., as far as I'm concerned. I mean, I think that was the reason we went to L.A., 'cause 'We Suck Young Blood' was.. that was our take on Hollywood, really, basically. In fact we went out to a party that night. We went to this place and... [whispers] you people are so silly. And it was like that's how they dressed every day to create an impression. It was brilliant. We felt like old people or Maybe we'd missed something."

Phil: "It doesn't sound light-hearted, but it was done in a very light-hearted spirit, really. It started off sounding quite like a pastiche, really. And normally, when it starts off there, we discard something very quickly, I think. But we actually stuck with it. It's got a very sinister feel to it."

Colin: "The backing session from Phil on the drums, then we got the rest of this like clapping over the top of it, completely out of time. Expensive microphones and a lot of studio hours and studio tape were spent on like getting this sort of clapping like that. There's a lot of different takes, Nigel really drove us. I think it was like 3 days."
Thom: "For me, that song is not to be taken seriously, but at the same time it was quite fun because somewhere in the lyrics it's pretty twisted. Then we break into this freeform jazz nightmare. It's like, 'Come on, lads!' Well, it makes me laugh..."
Thom: "We did this thing, I think we've had it in London here now as well, where we're putting up these ads 'Hungry? Sick? Begging for a break? Ring this number'. Someone I heard on the radio completely missed the point, or sort of did… or Maybe they didn't… where they kind of thought we were running some Radiohead talent show. Which is just genius - that would have been perfect. Sadly not. It's a good idea, though. I think it's called 'Your Time Is Up' simply to take the piss out of the fact that we're basically old gits now and that we need to suck young blood to keep young! It's all very tied up with Hollywood as well and, you know, the constant desire to stay young and… fleece people, suck their energy. Corporations… Corporate media groups love to do that…blah, blah, blah. It's not really about the music business as such, definitely much more about the glamorous world of Hollywood."

Q: "The music seems to tie in with the lyrical theme..."

Thom: "It's quite sexy as well."

Q: "It has this kind of work song, clapping thing, and then this little New Orleans jazz freak-out type..."

Thom: "I've always wanted to do the slave ship tune. And this is definitely it. Now what film is it... There's a film where... It always reminds me of being in the bottom of the ship with all the slaves who're rowing the boats."
Thom: "To me, a song like 'We Suck Young Blood' has got a real humour to it. When I hear it, I think it's sick, but it's funny. The bubble's burst in the middle when we go into this terrible jazz exploration. There's a queasiness and terror to it, but there's also a joy, a not terribly serious side to it."
Q: "Which song took the least time?"

Thom: "'We Suck Young Blood' was easy and 'The Gloaming' and 'Backdrifts' were finished pretty fast."
Like many unfinished songs from the Kid A/Amnesiac period, 'We Suck Young Blood' was reworked for Hail To the Thief during the rehearsals in spring 2002. It was then played live on most concerts of the Iberian Tour in july and august 2002.

The word "motheaten" can be seen in this sheet, taken from radiohead.com, written by Thom in September 2002 in L.A.:

On March 30th 2003, the rough mix of the song was leaked and it represents the state of work from February. It features reverb on the vocals, which are 'dry' in the released version.
As part of the promotion for Hail To The Thief, posters like this one were seen in many cities:

In 2003, a remix (by Thom) of 'We Suck Young Blood' appeared on an EMI acetate disc, suggesting it was considered for b-side release:

We Suck Young Blood (Thom Yorke Remix) by CitizenInsane;
Two t-shirts sold by w.a.s.t.e feature lines from the song. The description of both items, apparently written by Stanley Donwood, included this:
"I found this ridiculously ornate font in some old book or other, and it seemed to fit the gothic Louisianan gloom of the song perfectly. But does it? You decide.":



Some more related artwork appeared in the scrapbook section of radiohead.com:



There exists a black and white video for the song, shot at Ocean Way by director Peter Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia).