The interview took place at the CBC Real Time Studio in Vancouver, Canada.
Interviewer: Thom from Radiohead is here. Newly-learned diminished chords? You didn't know about them before? You were just dealing with the major chords and a couple of dominant sevenths?
Thom: Think so. I might have learned them when I did classical guitar. Or something.
Interviewer: So this should open up a whole new world of music to you!
Thom: Well I don't think it's very rock. You can't go (plays a chord) and then go (plays another). It's jazz.
Interviewer: But you can do whatever you want. There are no rules.
Thom: Oh yeah. (continues to play diminished chords)
Interviewer: I want to talk to you about what's happened over the past year, and also the Mad Cow Disease that I saw on the news last night, that's happening in Britain.
Thom: That's far more important.
Interviewer: Of course it is, but first let's have a song from you. From The Bends?
Thom: Oh, OK.
[plays 'Street Spirit (Fade Out)']
Interviewer: Thank you, Thom Yorke of Radiohead.
Thom: (makes throat gargling noise)
Interviewer: Studio 2, CBC Vancouver...what's wrong Thom? You have a bad throat today?
Thom: Yes, thank you.
Interviewer: But you sound great, you're hitting high notes, low notes.
Thom: You should have heard me half an hour ago.
Interviewer: How does it feel, though?
Thom: It just hurts. It's because we were going over the mountains from Edmonton and Calgarrr...garr...y. And I've discovered that incredibly cold weather is the worst thing for my throat apart from drugs and alcohol. It's agony. But there you go. That's life. That's alright, that's my job.
Interviewer: You have been staying away from the British beef as well, haven't you?
Interviewer: But you were back in Oxford in January, right? Are you telling me you didn't eat one hamburger?
Thom: I don't eat meat. I haven't eaten meat for five years.
Interviewer: You see, so you knew before anybody else.
Thom: Yeah but...umm...still...they said something about the incubation time for the poisoned beef was something like fifteen years, or something.
Interviewer: So you're not off scot free yet!
Interviewer: So the band took time off in January to do some writing, not really time off but time away from the road. I'm wondering how you go from that...you know everyday it's a new city, it's another show and a million interviews, to suddenly being able to immerse yourself in the creative process. How do you do that?
Thom: Err...I didn't (laughs). We got off tour around christmas, and the final thing we did was just this amazing end to the year, we did this thing for KROQ, LA radio station, most powerful radio station in America, and I won't be rude about them here because it's not a good idea. And in actual fact we really enjoyed it. We were really dreading having to play with all these really famous bands. Like Oasis and stuff. But it was really good fun and we were on a real high. And then to go home and sit down in your own space for more than half an hour, which was almost impossible before....so I spent most of January just trying to chill out and not succeed at anything at all. Then in February we started rehearsing and recording and stuff. And it was alright, but we're not ready yet, that's why we're back out, because musically the momentum of The Bends is still here.
Interviewer: I know, a year later and it's top twenty in the States, and in Canada. I've dropped my pen.
Thom: Yeah, it's like the beat is still here. Erm....we're not in any hurry to follow it up. Because it's the sort of album that's going to be around longer than a couple of months, and also because the next one has to be better. By that token we've got to change. I spent most of February learning how to use a sampler, and I'm really into the idea, and people are going "oh my god"...
Interviewer: And learning diminished chords from Jonny, too.
Interviewer: So it's going to be samplers and jazz, the next album?
Interviewer: But you did write some new songs, and you're testing them out?
Thom: Yeah, though it depends who you talk to in the band, because for me, I don't know if any of them are any good. I've got millions of them, but the only way to know if they're any good is to give them to the others and let them chew over them. But none of us can decide because I think we're still wrapped up in the momentum of The Bends. And there are lots of songs that I think are better than the songs on The Bends. But I can't tell yet. When we made The Bends, we'd been so desperate to make an album, because we'd been following Creep around for so long, and nobody had given us a chance. And now the record company are saying "take as long as you want. Take one, two years". And we think they're joking, but they're not. So that's cool. For us.
Interviewer: So you're going to play another song now. Is this one of the new songs?
Thom: No. If I can remember it, I'm going to play a song called Killer Cars, which never got a just version. It's a standing joke because I think there's about four versions, including one with an acoustic guitar. We always wanted to put it on the record but we could never find a version that gave it justice.
Interviewer: So it's a b-side to a British single?
Thom: Yes, but I can't remember which one. I think we put it on two or three.
[plays 'Killer Cars']
Interviewer: You're right, that's a really good song. Thom Yorke from Radiohead, Killer Cars. Just before I let you go I want to ask...
Thom: We're going to sell that one to Volvo.
Interviewer: (laughs) Nobody wants that! I don't mean the song, but "Killer" and "Cars" together, nobody wants that image. I was reading in one of the English magazines about how all you want to do in your spare time is look for real estate, and you bought a house, didn't you?
Thom: Yeah, I bought a house. I became a normal person with a mortgage, and it's very strange.
Interviewer: But you're never there, so you're not really a normal person.
Thom: Well my contribution to domesticity was I had to look after these goldfish, these beautiful oriental goldfish in the bottom of the garden, and I had to look after them over christmas because it was snowing all the time, and there was a foot of snow. You had to knock a hole in the ice to give them the oxygen. And I completely forgot, and went back after about three days. The worst thing about it was there was a place where the hole had been, and there were these two big fish, with their mouths going...right next to the hole.
Interviewer: They were getting the bends!!!
Thom: Yeah, right. They'd frozen over and suffocated. I felt so bad about that.
Interviewer: Oh, no. And are you really calling it 'The House That Creep Built'? I know in England houses have names like High Chimneys, Primrose Mansion. I like that.
Thom: I had the first person knock at the door, who knew where I lived. The first fan. And it was really horrible.
Interviewer: What did they want?
Thom: Nothing. She was very sweet. She just stood there and said "I just had to knock on the door and have you answer".
Interviewer: The least she could do was feed the goldfish. Well Thom, this is your life. We have some special guests and Radiohead fans, look at this everyone, it's John Auer and Ken Stringfellow from the Posies. Do you guys know each other?
Thom: We met. We got drunk one night when making The Bends. In London.
Interviewer: Oh right, with John Leckie. Where was that?
Auer: RAK studios?
Thom: Ugh, yeah. Horrible place. So what do you want to do? We could do a new song. Or Fake Plastic Trees, that'd be cool. Or we could do someone else's...