Charlotte Roche: "Das hier ist Thom Yorke von Radiohead. Welcome on my show."
Thom: "Hi... hi."
Charlotte: "Hello, first, I’d like to talk about, erm, cycles. I think most bands release their records in certain cycles. You know, first comes the over-arranged record, then comes the reduced record and stuff like that."
Charlotte: "But I think Radiohead... they’re working on a linear vision, if you know what I mean. Or maybe your cycles are bigger, because you’re not going in circles."
Thom: "Oh, I think we are."
Charlotte: "Do you?"
Thom: "Yeah. Ever decreasing circles, probably."
Charlotte: "But then you see them and I don’t. Can you explain what sort of circles you mean?"
Thom: "Erm, well, when you’re working, you kind of... you never think you’re repeating yourself. And then you get to the end of the record and you look at it and go 'oh, ok'. Um, because you’re basically working with your own limitations. And your limitations are the five people you work with. Everything is a limitation, because you can only go so far. Erm... so, it sort of feels like you can’t help... I mean, the running joke that I have with myself is it’s not circ... it's not cycles, it’s like this (gestures)."
Charlotte: "(laughs) And then exploding in the middle."
Thom: "Well, yeah, I don't know. And go to the other side of a black hole, probably."
Charlotte: "Yeah... How do you feel after you finished doing a record? Are you satisfied?"
Thom: "Terrible. I, I... I hate it."
Thom: "It’s just awful. I really, really... It’s erm, it’s uh... This... making this record was really good fun. And then finishing it was a fucking nightmare. It was horrible. It was uh, um... Everything was really spontaneous, and then we had to mix it and everything just went wrong, 'cause I don’t know... You know, I mean, we were recording, we were doing like a song a day and we were working really, really fast, tchck tchck tchck tchck tchck. And then suddenly you are presented with it as a finished thing and suddenly you have to start thinking of it as an album and you suddenly start having to think about the bullshit that’s gonna go with it, and you have to start thinking about the British Press, and you have to start thinking about, erm, how something you may have meant completely genuinely will be taken as something else, and it’s out of your control and you have to say goodbye to it. I mean there’s... Obviously you have to say goodb... You know, you do a piece of work and you feel really passionately about it and you have to say goodbye to it. But for me, this particular record was really difficult to finish, because, because erm... uh 'cause I really loved it and then I got to the end of it and hated it and never wanted to hear it again and, erm... it was very upsetting and... So it’s kind of fun to play it live now cause I can get it back, you know?"
Thom: "But I... I mean, I absolutely cannot listen to the record ever again. Em, I kind of always do that, but this has been the most extreme. Which is a shame."
Charlotte: "Yes, yes. But, eh, so you play..."
Thom: "It’s like it’s stolen off you, right at the end, you know?"
Thom: "It’s weird. But that’s... You know, I’m quite a precious person, so... (slaps himself)"
Charlotte: "(laughs) Um, would you say your music is more like a reflection of you, or is it more like constructing a parallel world?"
Thom: "Definitely the latter. Good question."
Charlotte: "Oh, thank you."
Thom: "(into the camera) I like that question."
Charlotte: "Well, you think it’s more constructing a parallel world?"
Thom: "Yeah, I, you know, I get beamed it. I mean, my bits are beamed to me. They have nothing to do with me. I’m, you know, tuned into a certain frequency some days and recieve the information I need. It’s got nothing to do with me, I tell you."
Charlotte: "So it just drops into your brain somehow."
Charlotte: "And you sit around waiting for it."
Thom: "Yeah. "
Thom: "I wait like this." (sits motionless for a few seconds, then laughs)
Thom: "I, I definitely had, um, a real moment after OK Computer. Um, when I heard other people imitating things that we’d done and really didn’t like what it sounded like and really had this kind of 'My God, this is really self-indulgent. Have I been responsible for this? That’s really awful.' Em... uh... A lot of what drives me in music is depression and personal things, but, erm, there just seemed to be this indulgence that I never wanted to go near again. And also I think more to the point, um, I suddenly realized that a lot of the problems I had weren’t actually internal, they were external. Um, they were to do with, uh... my immediate environment, um, my upbringing, um, my... the way I saw the external world and I’d spent a lot of time internalizing it, because it’s the only thing I knew how to do. I mean, a lot of the, erm, Generation X thing, you know?"
Thom: "Um, it’s quite interesting, because like, like anything it gets trivialized and turned into something stupid. Um, but uh, it was quite interesting, because I think a lot of... say, the Douglas Cooper book, was about a bunch of people, um, who were growing up and discovering they just had basically no connection with the world their parents had provided for them. And I think that there was a... I think that that was something that was true. Um, and I think that it’s something that just didn’t go away, it’s still there, but it’s sort of expanded and turned into something really dreadful, because people my age, for example, um eh, old gits, are just now at the stage where we’re reproducing and we’re thinking about the future and all this sort of stuff. And, um, yet we’ve totally dislocated ourselves, disassociated ourselves from, um... ah... politics and our immediate environment and the future, because we’re far too busy and we’ve got these things to do here and bla bla bla, and we don’t want to look that far away. Um, and I guess being someone who is allowed to think a lot, um... I'm allowed, eh... I think that’s really frightening. I find it really, really frightening, because, um, we are allowing our governments to act on our behalf without questioning what they’re doing. Um, and what they are doing is, is hurling us headlong into oblivion."
Thom: "Um, and obviously I’d say that, because I’m, you know, because, um, but uh... but it’s true. They don’t give a flying fuck about us. All they care about... Schröder’s exactly the same as Blair. All they care about is the companies that, that... the corporate lobbying. All they care about is how they can stay in with their large corporations. They don’t give a flying fuck about who votes for them. They vote for them anyway. You know, if you’ve got the right face... Schröder’s got the right face, vote him in. You know, he’ll do anything, just like Blair. He’ll do fucking anything to stay in. Now that’s very frightening, because that’s our future they’re dictating and people my age are just like 'yeah, whatever, they‘re all assholes'. But that’s not good enough man, that’s not good enough, because they’re..."
Charlotte: "Yeah, that would have been my next question. There are songs on the new record or so reflecting what I would call the dark political climate at the moment. But do you feel... of course, when you look at the world now..."
Thom: "Happy, isn't it? It’s gonna sell, isn't it? Sorry."
Charlotte: "Well... (laughs) When you look at the world you feel fear, but after the fear must come something else, you know, like hope. Otherwise you wouldn’t want to change something.
Thom: "Absolutely, oh yes."
Charlotte: "So you must also think that there will be a forward moving, not only a backdrifting."
Thom: "Um, nice. Eh, yeah, I do, but I, um... I think it’s relatively simple. It’s a relatively simple thing. I think that em... To me, at the moment... the reason - I was thinking about it today - the reason we called the record Hail To The Thief, was just like stating the bleeding obvious. The bleeding obvious is, erm, the most powerful country on earth is run by somebody who stole an election. Now see, now that’s bad. That’s bad. That’s bad for everybody. Em, ah... especially because he was bought the election by extremely, erm, powerful companies who have an awful lot of money, just as he’s doing exactly the same at the moment for the next election. Now this is bad. And um, uh... But at the same time, it’s now ok for people to talk about it. Now, six months ago, it wasn’t ok. In the States, it was not ok to talk about it. Um..."
Charlotte: "Because of words like anit-Americanism and..."
Thom: "I have friends who write for newspapers and stuff who were getting... weekly they were getting death threats for the columns they were writing. Now that, to me, is very, very uncool. Um... and uh, the thing I was most terrified about when we released our record, it had to be called Hail To The Thief. We had endless discussions about it and it had to be called that. But I was actually very, very scared, um, about the aggro we’d get. And to me, the hope, my hope at the moment, personally, is the fact that there isn’t any aggro. Why? Because yeah, it’s common bloody sense. Everybody knows about it. Yeah, yeah it’s true. And it’s like, um, I guess politics isn’t very, a sort of sexy thing or anything, but..."
Charlotte: "It is for my viewers."
Charlotte: "Yeah. Very strange people."
Thom: "That’s good. (laughs) Hmm. It’s obviously not MTV, is it?"
Thom: "Are you wearing Wellingtons?"
Charlotte: "Yes! We’re on a festival."
Thom: "How terribly sensible. (laughs)"
Thom: "Sorry, carry on."
Charlotte: "Em, the lyrics on the record are influenced by, you know, language... politic language, media language. Did it make more sense for you somehow, um, artistically abusing that language? To change the sense?"
Thom: "Um yeah, because, eh, I think politicians and those who talk about politics, um uh, feel that it’s a specialist subject, um, and I... it’s another thing that I have a real problem with, um, because essentially anyone who works in a specialist area tries to adopt their own language to prohibit inclusion of people outside it. Um, and I think a lot of that goes on. So that was all very much tied in with the fact that, uh, that that particular language was becoming more and more ridiculous. I mean, to the point of farcical. The best... my absolute favorite one is 'regime change'. And even, even on CNN, even on Fox, they kind of have to say it with their tongue in cheek because it like (coughs) 'reg- regime- regime change' (whistles). Um, it’s like, no, it’s called WAR. Um..."
Thom: "And... (laughs) It’s just this long list. So, what I... I just sort of ended up responding to this long list of, you know, Orwellian newspeak sort of nonsense, which is supposed to confuse you and make you not quite understand what’s going on. What’s going on is these things are being done in your name and you can’t do jack shit about it, you know. Um, you know. So em, I think it’s really... Yeah, I personally think it’s really important to make that language and make the people who use it look utterly ridiculous."
Charlotte: "But do you think on the other side that... You’ve recorded the album in Los Angeles, for example, and there are lots of misconceptions also in Europe about America, you know, because their view is very simple, also."
Thom: "But that’s... I mean, it’s... a very, very simple thing to take into account is that um... When I was in the States before the Iraq War, we were in the States when we were doing... when we were recording it and we were... I was in the States shortly afterwards to do a concert with Neil Young for the Bridge School, which is a charity thing. And um, that weekend there was this huge protest in San Francisco. And all that sort of... everybody came out of the woodwork from the sixties, it was fantastic. My absolute favorite protester was this guy who was stark naked except for a missile on his cock and he was walking down the center of San Francisco, just ah, with uh, I don’t know, like 'Fuck Bush' written on him and that was it. Um, and there must have been about fifty thousand people there. And then when we were mixing the record, I went to another protest in Los Angeles where there’s never a protest. Never. And the bottom line is, it’s very easy to assume that Americans are happy with the situation. The bottom line is that they’re not. Just in exactly the same way as in your country they may be happy about the fact that Schröder stood up to him, but they’re probably not happy about the fact that now he’s letting him get away with it. And the same in Britain as well, you know. People are very, very, very, very, very angry, you know."
Charlotte: "What we also get at the moment is of course sort of young people running around thinking that it’s left wing to say 'Bush is an asshole', and I think that they’re not trying... often not trying to see the mechanisms behind it, you know, because it’s very easy to say Bush is the stupid evil man and that’s it, and nothing sort of with the oil industry and stuff like that going on in America."
Thom: "Yeah, I agree because, um, it’s a very weird thing for me because, um... I, I... yeah. It’s true because the system itself is at a fault. The system itself is at fault to allow a situation like this to occur. Um, I think... yeah, it’s very, very easy to reduce it down to that particular person, but it ultimately is pointless. It’s the same with Blair in Britain at the moment. It’s very, very easy to sort of analyze the person, but basically what you’re doing is falling into the classic trap of a person is responsible, a person should go to hell for what they’ve done. It’s like no, no... you know. Any politician, anybody is only as good as the people who surround him and tell him what’s going on. I’m the same. Everybody’s the same. If all your friends lie to you, then you’re a lunatic."
Thom: "You know."
Charlotte: "They keep telling me my show is brilliant."
Thom: "Yeah. Is it?"
Charlotte: "(laughs) I don’t know. Ask them."
Thom: "Is it?"
Thom: "They’ll cut, you’ll cut that bit, right?"
Charlotte: "No, we won’t ever. I swear to God we won’t. Um… how do you manage not to become cynical with all of your political engagement?"
Thom: "Because I only do it, you know, about ten minutes of the day really. The rest is blissful ignorance."
Charlotte: "(laughs) I’d like to ask you the final question, I’m afraid."
Thom: "Is that it?"
Charlotte: "Though… It’s the final question, but we can chat afterwards of course. Hmm. Eh, what music are you listening to at the moment?"
Thom: "Um... I like The Liars. Heard of them?"
Charlotte: "Mm hm."
Thom: "Yeah, they’re good. Uh... amazing drummer. ADF were good today. Did you see ADF?"
Charlotte: "Mmm. I'm afraid not."
Thom: "Wow, man."
Charlotte: "Did you go and see somebody in a tent playing or what?"
Thom: "Yeah, Asian Dub Foundation, yeah."
Thom: "Um... there’s a German label called B-Pitch Control and they’ve got a guy called Modeselektor. His stuff is this... it’s the shit."
Charlotte: "They’ll be famous in Germany tomorrow."
Charlotte: "And rich!"
Thom: "They’ll probably hate it as well."
Charlotte: "Yes. (laughs) Kicking them into mainstream."
Thom: "Sorry, sorry."
Charlotte: "(laughs) I thank you very, very much. It was a wonderful interview."
Thom: "Can we do it again?"
Charlotte: "Yeah, we’ll start all over again. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Thom Yorke from Radiohead."