Interview Colin Greenwood
Le Soir: You checked in as "Gary Bloke" at the reception. Is it to keep fans away ?
Colin: No, it's just a pathetic joke. In the "Private Eye" magazine, it's the name of the sad guy in a rock band. It became my secret name for hotels, but it's useless here in Brussels.
Le Soir: The last tour was particularly long. Wasn't it too exhausting ?
Colin: Yes, it was. The 1997 Brussels concert was fantastic, the concert hall is fabulous. It was one of our first dates and we were quite nervous, but I went very well, I think.
Le Soir: Is it easy to work on new songs after such a great album like "OK Computer" ?
Colin: It was difficult in the beginning because we had no precise idea, and it got shape little by little in the studios in Copenhagen, Paris and the UK. It was a great experience. It made it travelling record.
Le Soir: By taking your time, we presume you must have ended up with too many songs and enough to fill a double album...
Colin: Yes, but we gave up the idea to release a double album. It would be boring. We hate the double albums of the people we like. Smashing Pumpkins' "Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness" for example, who have been better as a single album. I think people like the records they can listen over and over and over again. We recorded a lot, that's right, but we'll put only the best songs on the album. All the great rock bands tried a double album, but with perspective, it's rarely their best. "OK Computer" was already long, we would like this one to be shorter. But we don't know how many songs will be retained.
Le Soir: What can we say about this record ? About its colors ?
Colin: It will be a mix of traditionnal and very new things: a true Radiohead album. The color, I would say... Not ginger anyway, because that's the color of the carpet in the studio and it made me sick. No, I would say, according to the cover which is currently being , white with strong, mixed, digital colors...
Le Soir: Most of the musical magazines, at the turn of the century, put "OK Computer" among the best rock albums. Does that inspire you ?
Colin: It's flattering while having no significance at the same time. These polls were made 18 months after the record was released. I think it would be the same result with somebody else's album published today. It's a question of timing. We can't compare or even compete with bands like The Beatles. It's actually the marketing used by magazines to promote music and their own sales.
Le Soir: Did you feel, because of all that, a more important pressure in the band ?
Colin: What was exciting for us, was to have for the first time our own recording studio where we live, in Oxford. We took this opportunity to break the barriers traditionnaly existing between the members of a band. We work together in such a way that we could do somebody else's job. That's what the most exciting in a band like Radiohead. The technology also allows us to record songs on a computer in our hotel room. Technology stimulates our creativity. We like to mix all that with more traditionnal, acoustic, rock things.
Le Soir: Each one of you had a particular role in the band ?
Colin: More or less. My brother Johnny wrote a lot of chord arrangements on this album, it's very nice and unusual. He managed to avoid the "clichés" of the "band with chords". We recorded orchestral parts in an old abbey, separately from the rock sessions. We used fabulous brass players. All that, we used it in a very original way, inspired by what we are and where we live, in Oxford, and by artists like John Raskin or William Morris. We used all that environnement.
Le Soir: Does Radiohead still consider themselves as a rock band ?
Colin: Only, and with a lot of guilt, when we play very loud. We sometimes enjoy so much to be noisy, but otherwise I don't know. We feel a bit like a band of british former students who decided to use some instruments to create something. For us it's very important to collaborate with other people to create exciting sounds. And since some people took over what we did, we have to evoluate.
Le Soir: Some people already consider you as a "cult" band, actual number one of rock. Do you like it ?
Colin: I like the idea that people love us, listen to our music, come to see us and communicate with us through our website. They don't have to buy magazines or watch MTV to see us. We're accessible, not pretentious or snobs.
Le Soir: Is it a new strategy to come back on stage so early before the album ?
Colin: To play our music live is very important for us. But the last tour was so long that in the end we didn't always make the most of it. We were exhausted and it's not very good to communicate that to the audience. This time, we want to deliver as much pleasure as possible. That's why we'll put a limit on spaces in order to preserve the "atmosphere".
Le Soir: So far, southern Europe benefit more from your favors than the UK.
Colin: The weather is so depressing for the moment. We want the sun for the beginning. That's not a strategy or marketing, we just want that the audience will never forget it.
Le Soir: Don't you fear that bootlegs will spread well before the relase the album ?
Colin: No, because it will be very different on stage. The sound of the album is really great, Nigel did an incredible job. We'll play six or seven new songs on stage and the rest we'll be from the last two albums. We already did that four years ago during the american tour with Alanis Morissette. We're actually trying to break all the usual process of this business to make it more interesting. We want to be there for a long time. We don't want to be treated like shit at each new album. Because usually the more successful you are the less creative you become, stuck in a frozen format. As long as we stay from this vicious circle, everything will be fine.
Le Soir: Will this tour be as long as the last one ?
Colin: No, we'll try to combine the tour with studio sessions. We're going back in studio in August, we tour this autumn, and record new songs for another album this winter. When you tour during 18 months in a row, you don't know who you are anymore...
Le Soir: Do you have other projects apart from Radiohead ?
Colin: No. Thom did duets with Björk and PJ Harvey the last six months. Eddy did a few tracks for series on the BBC, but it doesn't have any incidence on Radiohead.
Le Soir: What's the title of the new album ?
Colin: We're still hesitating between three. Sorry to be so vague. Things will be clearer during the mastering in a few weeks.