Yorke of Radiohead talks to BBC World Service
Radio DJ Steve Lamacq presents a four-part series, The Radiohead
Story, starting on Monday 21 April on BBC World Service.
tells the story of the band from their early schooldays in Oxford,
through to their latest recordings.
five band members, including enigmatic frontman Thom Yorke, tell
is also a rare opportunity to hear key moments from the band's career
from the BBC archive.
Talking to Steve
Lamacq Thom Yorke said:
the album's title
others felt very strongly about it (Hail to the Thief) as a title.
I mean I really, really struggled. I couldn't think of anything
that really seemed to work for ages.
think partly because the artwork for the record, what Stanley did
was he used all these words and stuff that he'd seen in LA and all
these notes that I had scattered around the place so everything
was words . . . everywhere I looked and titles and phrases so I
was a little bit paralysed when it came to thinking where the album
was coming from.
they were really into it because its this crazy jubilation about
it - this Emperor's new clothes thing about it, like whey hey isn't
this marvellous in a kind of pure blind panic written on their faces
I guess. I ‘m not quite sure, but it seems to work for me."
the new single from the album There There
made me cry when we finished it actually, I blubbed my eyes out.
Then I went to LA and Nigel played me the mix and it just made me
cry, I was in tears for ages, I just thought it was the best thing
we had ever done.
was something about it, I loved what he did with the guitar sound
and the way he mixed it and just the way it is really jubilant to
me that song in a funny way.
at one time I thought it was the song that we were going to lose
which I was really upset about because the melody stayed with me
for about four months without going away which is really unusual
as it doesn't take me long to get bored and I really never got bored
of this song."
I don't read anything that anybody writes now about us at all, cause
I just can't anymore, and the main reason for that was that I happened
upon by accident basically a review of an Oxford gig which was just
like one of the biggest days in my life obviously for all of us.
this person was just tore it to shreds, but they couldn't think
quite how to tear us to shreds really so they tore the audience
to shreds and just basically said who are these people, a bunch
of students, white middle class, which is not the case at all.
what's the point in arguing, but this person managed to totally
and utterly ruin that day for me forever and it shouldn't have done
and I should be big enough to ignore it and there was a lesson there
which I've learnt now, but I just didn't understand how someone,
just because they had access to a keyboard and a typewriter, could
write off an event that meant an awful lot to an awful lot of people
and there be no answering back, no nothing, that was it, the end
of the story.
that happens all the way through your career if you choose to do
this for a living or stand in front of a stage you're asking for
it, that was the most upset I've ever been about anything ever written
even right from the beginning."
good place to put anger is in music, better than a lot of other
Radiohead's working practices
I think is very important in the way we operate. I think we are
unhealthily paranoid about complacency to the point where it is
just silly and I am delving into complacency on this record anyway,
simply by just sort of saying we are going to let this happen now,
i.e. I am not going to sabotage absolutely every single moment of
every single day like normal, which I think went down quite well
with the others funnily enough.
I think it just happens anyway, I think that part of the creative
thing for us really is that if something has happened in the past
we can 100% guarantee without fear of contradiction that it will
never work again. So don't even go there and if you do go there
it is purely by accident - so that's all right then!"
the decision to sign with EMI
was a horrendous learning curve. I don't know what happens now,
but when we signed to a major record label there were lots of independents
and the independent thing was very strong and signing to EMI was
a bit like okay, we are going to have to spend the first three years
apologising for this anyway, which was fair enough, but the joke
about it at the time was that we knew that most of those independents
were either being signed up and a lot of them were being bought
or went under and really we thought that what we were doing was
pop music anyway and we didn't expect we could attain that sort
of integrity or whatever the hell.
basically didn't want to get into a discussion about it so it was
like, oh well, okay we'll sign with a major and actually we had
a good thing going with EMI.
way that these things pan out it was extremely stressful because,
like any band when they sign, we were incredibly naive and didn't
understand how these things worked and didn't understand, I didn't
understand when I was getting very personal attacks very quickly
within the music press, I kind of didn't get it.
know I've got one of these faces that people want to punch but I
can't help that, but it was a bit odd, it just took a while to get
used to that idea.
were really paranoid of falling into traps, of falling into a hole
and never getting out again and we had only just started.
the creep thing happened, we were in America and everyone was all
over us like a rash and we were doing the most horrendous press
and promotional things, which I really don't think there is any
point in doing."
fall out from that was horrendous, we got to the point where we
scrapped everything and started again because we were just so messed
up, we didn't understand, that was only a couple of years later,
we just could not work out why we had got into this, it ceased to
make any sense to us.
talk about the songwriting and we were doing it but there was no
life to it. We just didn't understand why we were doing it, it was
really weird, it was like someone had nicked it off us or something."
participating in a Drop the Debt protest
few years ago Drop the Debt thing just stuck with me when we went
to Cologne. I've talked about this before, how all these nice old
ladies and Quakers and stuff were protesting at the G7 or 8.
handed in this petition with millions of signatures to Schroder
at this thing in Cologne and there was a protest that turned into
a riot back in London, but somehow the British press were just writing
it up as if all these old ladies and Quakers were somehow anti-capitalist
lunatics and it was all part of the same co-ordinated protest, which
was just nonsense.
whole thing was just written up so badly and everyone was ignoring
the fact that it was millions of people's signatures on this thing
and it just stuck with me how utterly powerless people are to represent
what really goes on if people elsewhere see a nicer, more convenient
story to be written another way if they can write off the wishes
of millions of people in a split second editorial decision, which
I feel is immoral."
series of four programmes starts on Monday 21 April on BBC World
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