Interviewer: What I do want to start with is the fact that you are doing things your own way. This is a new start, musically, but on a promotion level as well, you're kind of going about things unconventionally. The first example is the video blips. Can you tell me about the idea behind them? Why are they there?
Ed: It was just really a reaction, we just found that we didn't want to do videos this time. I mean we got to a stage where, bringing this record out, we had to confront lots of things that we liked and didn't like about the business. And one of the things we don't like about the business, is or, one of the things we didn't find is that the videos, you know, for a start, they cost a fortune to make and they completely take up so much time, they take up so much emotion or time, worry, blah blah blah. So we want to avoid that, but yet we didn't want to be seen as, oh we're just being arsey, we're not bringing anything out, because that would be stupid. And the whole thing with the blip is that, you know, it's taken bits of Stanley's and Thom's artwork, put it into the computer using this software called Lightwave, got 2 teams working on it, and they're making these little 10 second segments up to like two and a half minutes. And they're great! They're really, really different. They're really exciting, they're really different. And they do- you know, the music, this album, Kid A, it would have been, it doesn't lend itself to kind of if, whatever the visuals are for it, they- it wouldn't be right if we were in them, or anything, or even if Thom were in them. They lend themselves to something different, and I think that's what these blips have done, and we've really had very little to do with them bar, you know, choosing the people to work with.
Interviewer: So how were they conceived? How were the little visuals put together? With something in mind? Thom, and you just mentioned artwork.
Ed: Well they, they originated with, they did a series of canvases. When we were making the album, you know, Thom and Stan have done a lot of stuff on computers. They went back to sort of what they said, basics, and started chucking paint at canvases, and made these huge great canvases, and Stanley was around the whole time, and wanting to incorporate that with moving images, and now with the technology that you've got, this software called Lightwave, you can do the most astonishing things. You can take a painting and it becomes 3D.
Interviewer: It becomes alive.
Ed: Yeah, and you can travel through it.
Interviewer: Yeah. Can you tell me about the little bear that comes up regularly?
Colin: The bear.
Ed: Could you tell me about the bear?
Colin: Oh I could tell you about the bear!
Interviewer: Or is it a bear? It looks-
Colin: That came about as a drawing that Stanely's, one of Stanley's children has done some drawings, and also Stan was experimenting with, uh, different kinds of technical drawings, schematics of tops of metal screw heads and things like that, and blowing them out to like large size, so the actual sort of eyes in the circle of the bear are sort of 2D, you know I can't remember the name, the tops of nails and stuff like that, so, to go with the sort of hardness, and sort of, you know, sharpness of the image.
Interviewer: Isn't it labeled the "Death Bear", is it?
Colin: I don't think we'd ever want to use a word like that in any context.
Ed: It's a bit severe for us.
Colin: It's a bit forlorn.
Interviewer: That's a bit too much. It's pretty cute, it's more of a cute bear.
Colin: I mean, perhaps, like, "Carcass."
Interviewer: So no more videos, then, ever, or...?
Ed: No, not "ever." Just for the moment. Just until we get inspired again, you know. I mean, maybe we'll try to do a different kind of video. A long form video.
Interviewer: You can make it a mix of- Yeah.
Ed: Maybe we'll get in John Landis and do, instead of, you know, the making of the next album, you know, with dance sequences, and then-
Ed: Yeah, you know, like he made the "Thriller" video, John Landis.
Ed: Yeah. Dancing puppets!
Interviewer: That's nice!
Ed: Just until, you know, so we can do it justice again. Cause I think we've made some pretty good vid- Oh, we haven't made, but we've gotten some pretty good directors and made some good videos. And um, there seems to get a stage where once you've done a few, you kind of think, well, how do you beat that? And it was quite difficult, we found on OK Computer, trying to top what we did on The Bends, in terms of those videos, and hence the first one is Paranoid Android, and was animated, so it's a different thing altogether. You've just got keep on being different, you've got to, you know, react to the thing you've done last.
Interviewer: Well let's maybe move on to looking a little bit more closely at some of the songs on the album. The first one I'd like to talk about is Idioteque. Which is, to me, the song that stands out the most on the album, and it definitely showcases this new love for electronic music, and... can you tell me how the song came together, was it...
Ed: Well Jonny's got this, this, essentially, I don't know, this A.S. [Analogue Systems] machine, this box that looks like a telephone exchange. And did a DAT of about what, an hour and a half worth of just mucking around getting, you know, beats and stuff on it. Thom took away the DAT and edited, you know, edited it on his Mac, gave it some form. And there was a sample on there at the time which we originally thought was, thought it was Jonny's, you know. But actually it was, he sampled it. What's the fellow's name?
Colin: Paul Lansky.
Ed: Paul Lansky.
Interviewer: Paul Lansky.
Ed: Yeah. Who's a professor of music at...
Interviewer: Is he?
Ed: Princeton. Is it Berkeley?
Ed: Yeah, Princeton.
Interviewer: Did he teach any of you?
Ed: No, but he's offered Jonny a-
Colin: A Master's.
Ed: If he wants to apply for a place.
Interviewer: Oh really?
Interviewer: OK. I spoke about Idioteque to Thom earlier, when I met him earlier in September, and he was telling me that it was his go at trying to make disco.
Interviewer: That was his "I Will Survive." Does that make sense to you?
Ed: Yeah. [laughs] It does. It does when you know Thom.
Interviewer: Oh yeah? Why?
Ed: It might not to you, if you didn't know Thom, though you might think, hang on a sec, "I Will Survive" is sort of, quite far away in the scheme of musicality from Idioteque, but um...
Colin: Great song, though.
Ed: Amazing song.
Colin: It's one of my, it's a bit of a favorite on the old tour bus, isn't it, traveling across America and everywhere.
Ed: Yeah, and karaoke, a few drinks in-
Colin: A few drinks-
Ed: Get Gloria Gaynor on-
Colin: Get the dressing gown on, and the hairnet-
Ed: Yeah, then we'll get into "The Hustle" by Van McCoy.
Interviewer: So the next Meeting People is Easy, we'll see you do that.
Ed: It's a disco thing.
Colin: We did that during all of Meeting People is Easy, it was just never filmed.
Ed: I think there's a real, real desire to make a serious disco record, in the realms of Saturday Night Fever disco, but with a millennium flavor.
Interviewer: Everything's in it's right place, opening track on the album. The lyrics seem to me like, almost a stream of consciousness, very cut up. Was that, um, how did you that work for you, to add music to that.
Ed: Me or you? Do you want to answer that?
Colin: Yeah, no go for it.
Ed: Should I? That song was literally Thom and Nigel. And we tried it out as a band, and it hadn't really worked. And Thom and Nigel, it was the first song that was completed off the record. Thom and Nigel locked themselves away in the end studio in this big house in Gloucestershire, and did it in one night, basically. And um, you're right, you're absolutely right, I think it's, um, "Yesterday I woke up sucking on a lemon." You know, I mean, and then it's cut up. And it is very, that whole song sounds as those it's stream of consciousness. You know, it gains in momentum and intensity, but in a very subtle way, you know? It's kind of, it gets tighter and tighter and then just releases. And um, I think a lot of the lyrics on the record, are um, a lot of it is stream of consciousness. I mean, Idioteque, Thom didn't do the vocals until right at the end, really. And he did it, spent an evening of doing, you know, it was this piece of music without any vocals on it. And he spend an evening doing different vocals, and trying different words out, and throwing different, you know, phrases in. Which was completely the opposite to how we'd worked before. And the way we'd worked before was like, you know, we'd been in the rehearsal studio on tour and Thom would be like, honing the lyrics as he went along, so that when we literally got to the studio and did the takes, he knew what the lyrics were going to be, he'd written them.
Interviewer: So it gives you as well a different approach when you play music together, that you're getting the vocals in a completely different way.
Interviewer: You talked about "old mansion," I don't know if this was the same one I have, but I was told about a house where there was about 300 rooms, and it was all abandoned-
Interviewer: Which brings me to ask you about How To Disappear Completely, very haunting, moody, dark, sad song. Was that written in that house?
Colin: We started work on it, one of the places was in Canada, in Toronto, in the opera house.
Ed: First place we played it was...
Ed: No, we did a session for the BBC in London just before OK Computer came out.
Colin: Oh yeah!
Ed: And that was the first place we played it.
Interviewer: How to Disappear?
Interviewer: Yeah, OK.
Ed: But the first time we probably played it live was at that gig.
Colin: Yeah, we just had to sound check it.
Ed: Oh sound check, yeah.
Interviewer: When was that song written?
Colin: God knows.
Interviewer: Wow, that's years ago.
Ed: March, '97.
Interviewer: Is there a lot of songs on this album who are-
Ed: Motion Picture, that was around, Thom said that was written before Creep.
Ed: And John Leckie, when we made The Bends, John wanted to, kept pestering us- not pestering us, wanted us to record this song, so...
Colin: Bless him.
Interviewer: So you write them, you've actually dug up a lot of older, kind of things...
Ed: Well it's just a mix of stuff, I mean, there's always songs, there's a song we've got called Lift that people always ask us because we played it briefly, one year. '96, all of '96, every gig we played, we played this song Lift, and it was a great, great song. And um, but we've never recorded it right, it's never made a record. So there're always songs, you know, every band has songs that they've got lying around, that they just haven't got around, you know, on Meeting People is Easy there's a song called Follow Me Around that Thom played last night, on his own, and it's there, and it's a good song, but we just haven't done a good version of it. So who knows, you know. Maybe we'll do it in the future.
Interviewer: That's nice! How To Disappear, 1997.
Interviewer: Morning Bell is the other one I have here. And um, we talked about the lyrics being cut up, and kind of, almost transferred, and textured, and hidden. And on this one his vocals are quite clear.
Interviewer: You agree?
Interviewer: And is this kind of, is this maybe a nod to the earlier Radiohead, that song seems to me like it has more to do with the stuff that you did before.
Colin: I don't know, it's just fun to play live, really.
Colin: I mean, I like playing it live.
Colin: Yeah, some songs, you know, you have this thing called player's favorites, and you get worried sometimes, because it's quite fun to play live and maybe it's sort of a bit less interesting for the audience. But I like playing it live, it's fun.
Interviewer: So you like playing it live because of that vocal style?
Colin: Well yeah, and there's just lots of gaps in the music, and it's like people aren't playing all at the same time, so you can pop over and like, have a chat with Jonny, and stuff onstage. It's nice, I like that. And you can get a sense of where you are in the concert, if it's at the beginning of the set, because of the audience, you can get a feel for the space and stuff. It's good, I like that.
Interviewer: Hm. Do you have a favorite playing live, seeing we're on the subject?
Ed: Um, Idioteque. I love playing that live. And Everything In Its Right Place, probably. And those two... yeah. I mean Idioteque is kind of, the great thing about that song is that it's faster live.
Ed: And it's a bit like, you know, it's a bit like this mad... [Ed shakes and grinds his teeth]
Colin: They're not really guitar moments, for you, are they Ed? Both songs.
Ed: Well, doesn't matter. It's not the issue. The issue is what you're really enjoying.
Ed: National Anthem, that's a good one to play live.
Interviewer: I have that here, actually. We're going song by song.
Interviewer: A few notes that I took down: Interesting. Brass section. Jazzy feel. That's a new thing for Radiohead. Definitely? I mean that-
Interviewer: Kind of at the forefront?
Ed: Well it's like the orchestra, on How to Disappear there's the orchestra on that. These are things we haven't used before, and they're finally things that we've been able to, you know, we've allowed ourselves the, you know, we've allowed ourselves the time and the-
Ed: Expense, exactly, to do it properly, you know. And the brass section was, Thom and Jonny have been into Mingus for quite a while, and they wanted to recapture that. Sort of the classic Mingus 8 piece, and it was the same setup, with the same horns.
[Colin hums to himself]
Ed: And um, it was great. They came down to the studio for the day. And the same players, and they came back over to America last week, and we did Saturday Night Live with them, a gig in New York.
Interviewer: Yeah, you did.
Ed: Same players.
Interviewer: So that'll work for you live sometimes.
Ed: We've only done it with them that time. I mean I don't think- it's, it's a bit unfair because it'd be terrible to take them out on tour for one song that we play right at the beginning of the set. Or maybe it'd be great for them!
Interviewer: Yeah, maybe it'd be good for them, they could watch the show the rest of the time.
Ed: But they're real players, they like to play all the time, they're not like us, you know. We like a bit of taking it easy as well.
Colin: Wot are you talking about?
Ed: They're proper musicians.
Colin: Oh, that's true.
Interviewer: Proper musicians?
Ed: They are.
Interviewer: And you would not be that?
Ed: No, not really.
Interviewer: Why not?
Ed: There's too much show biz to what we do.
Ed: Too much entertainment.
Interviewer: Really? Like this, like describing a song and giving little anecdotes to each other.
Ed: Exactly, we should be in the corner, you know.
Interviewer: You should be recording now.
Ed: Exactly, doing some session.
Interviewer: Finally, In Limbo. what can you tell me about the making of In Limbo.
Ed: Well it tracked in Paris.
Ed: Probably, well that was live playing in the room.
Interviewer: So the band actually together.
Interviewer: So referring to the Thom interview again, I remember that he told me that this album was less about people playing together in the room, and more about people going off and doing their own thing.
Ed: Yeah. Yeah.
Interviewer: Is this song the opposite then?
Ed: No, because what it is, it started off like that. What we did is we tried to that, but in order to go off and work in another room on your own or with someone else is you have to have material to work on.
Ed: And what we did in Paris and Copenhagen and Batsford, and even... we worked on stuff. And it's a great way of doing it because what we're great, I mean one of the strengths of our band is we can play, you know we can play together, and we're great at making new sounds. And it's so much, you get there so much quicker if you have something, that there's a basis to work on, than if you were starting from scratch in a room on your own or with someone else. You know, at least you've got- and In Limbo is an example of, you know, stuff was added to it, and played around to it. But it was essentially started off in a room, in the classic format, and it had been one that had been rehearsed quite a bit.
Interviewer: I have one last one here. The more radio-friendly song maybe on the album, Optimistic. Which, we'd talked about the lack of guitars, this one has quite an important guitar sound.
Colin: It's a real chance to rock out, isn't it.
Ed: Yeah, it was funny because that song is, we were always really, really liked, and it was one of the strongest songs early on, but I think we were slightly embarrassed about it because, it is the one that kind of bridges OK Computer, and what we've done, with what we're doing now. And so, if it's like one of the best things immediately, you start to panic, because you start thinking, oh shit, this is the only thing that's any good, and it's the only thing that we can do. Um, and it's probably in many ways, I think it's possibly the weakest song on the record. And I don't think it's because of the guitars, I don't think that's because of that at all. I think it's just because we didn't necessarily do a great version of it because we were in the- I mean I think it's fine, I think it's fine, we could have done a better version.
Interviewer: OK. So are you actually talking about the 4 minutes, the song in its original form, like the first demo, to getting transformed...
Ed: Yeah. When we first, I mean the version that we recorded in our own studio-
[Colin begins humming again]
Ed: in October of last year. And, um... You're going to hum it for us, are you?
Colin: I am, I am.
Interviewer: Hum! Hum!
Colin: ...I can't hum.
Ed: And um, and then we started, we did it in France, in Paris, we did it in Copenhagen, we did it in Gloucestershire, we did it in various, I mean, that bit at the end of Optimistic is from, um, it's from Paris, isn't it?
Colin: Yes, it is.
Ed: Or no, it's from Batsford?
Colin: It's from Paris, that's right.
Ed: So it's a bit, it's on the same tape.
Colin: It's my favorite bit.
Ed: And um, we were playing the same song.
Ed: Just by accident it was there, we recorded over some stuff and it was there again, so, erm. It's cool, but it's definitely... In many ways it's probably the hardest one to do. It's the most frustrating one of all the songs.
Interviewer: Yeah, cause it's more...
Ed: It lend itself, it's like ones we've done before, so you're trying to do something new, but you're feeling guilty about this song which, you can't do it any other way, it's not possible to do it any other way. So.
Interviewer: Do you feel like you have to follow more guidelines when you play that song, and you can't just kind of open up? Is that what you're saying?