Yep, it’s been two whole decades since Radiohead shook the music world to its foundations with their masterwork OK Computer, and the band are in a reflective mood as they sit down with Rolling Stone magazine for a very in-depth chat about the record, and everything that’s happened since.
It’s a great read, full of interesting bits of trivia and personal revelations that may catch even the most ardent Radiohead fan off-guard. From encounters with ghosts to a hatred of Britpop, here are just a few of our favourites.
Thom Yorke took himself way too seriously
Surprising absolutely nobody is the idea that Thom may have been a bit too serious at times, especially in his early days. As it turns out though, the wisdom of age has given him some perspective on life, and the advice that he’d now give his younger self is pretty to the point:
“Lighten the fuck up.”
He genuinely hated the attention
There’s always an adjustment period for anyone who gets thrust into the spotlight, and some musicians are more prepared to embrace the lifestyle than others. For Yorke though, the media circus that followed him after OK Computer released, not to mention the sudden attention from fans, was too much.
“I did have fun sometimes,” he says. “But the public side of it, and the way people talked to me, even on the street, I could not fucking handle it. David Bowie was able to use these personas that would fuck with his relationship with the fans. He did it all in a very finessed, elegant way. I did not.”
He cut his hair because ghosts told him to
“Ghosts would talk to me while I was asleep,” he tells author Andy Greene of his stay with the band at Jane Seymour’s mansion. “There was one point where I got up in the morning after a night of hearing voices and decided I had to cut my hair.”
He actually did give himself an impromptu haircut, and scared his bandmates just a little. “I cut myself a few times. It got messy. I came downstairs and everyone was like, ‘Uh, are you all right?’ I was like, ‘What’s wrong?’ Phil very gently took me downstairs and shaved it all off.”
They hate Britpop and prog comparisons
Radiohead’s rise came at a time during which their country was in the thrall of everything Britpop and, according to Jonny Greenwood, they hated being thrown into the same category simply because they were a British band.
“To us, Britpop was just a 1960s revival,” he says. “It just leads to pastiche. It’s you wishing it was another era. But as soon as you go down that route, you might as well be a Dixieland jazz band, really.”
He’s not to fond of prog rock either, or at least the comparisons that were made to Radiohead’s material, claiming that while their compositions feel pretty organic, prog is far too structured.
“The problem with prog stuff is it sounds like it really has been thought about. And it’s exhausting as a result. All those records were very pastoral, and they’re preaching about unicorns and dinosaurs.”
Thom might let the band record live next time
While lamenting the lack of more shows on the recent tour, Colin Greenwood wished that the band had “spent more time in a room playing, working on stuff together,” before adding “But this is how we’ve worked for a long time.”
“I’ve always been extreme about resisting us being a drum-guitar-bass band,” Thom replied. “But if that’s what people want to try, I’m too old to be standing there with a hammer and saying, ‘We must do this, we must do that!’ I would like everyone to feel free. But, you know, it’s not easy.”