Studio Brussel, june 13th 1997
[Interview with Thom]
This transcript is taken from the internet, there was no recording available to verify it.
[recording starts here]
DJ: "OK Computer will be in the shops on Monday - we will play all tracks tomorrow and Sunday between 2 and 6 pm in the show Keinijg, but today we have a guest on our show to talk about the album - it is no other than singer Thom Yorke, but first let's have a listen to the opening track of the album : Airbag
DJ: "Airbag, the opening track from the album OKC, an album for which we have been waiting quite some time. Last year at the Torhout - Werchter festival however we were able to hear a couple of the new songs in their set. It is an album about which all sorts of weird rumours have been flying round. RH would be sounding like the new Pink Floyd with plenty of bizarre songs, but after listening to the finished product we have to conclude that the new RH is an even better version of the old RH ! OKC is a masterpiece, but it remains a weird title for an album. A title which needs a bit of an explanation which we get from Thom Yorke
[pre-recorded tape starts]
Thom: "It refers to embracing the future, it refers to being terrified of the future, of our future, of everybody else's. It's to do with standing in a room where all these appliances are going off and all these machines and computers and so on, they are all going off and the sound it makes...
DJ: "RH uses more electronics on this album than they did before, but it remains a love-hate relationship.
Thom: "It was sort of an unhealthy relationship because we weren't very tolerant of it and we weren't prepared to wait around for the computer to catch up. It was like a bit of a... um well, very much a love-hate relationship... um, you have all these amazingly cool things you can do with a computer and yet get bored with them so fast. We just walked back into the next room and bashed it out instead, so you know, there was a lot of that going on.
DJ: "The result is extremely beautiful- OK Computer might be the opportunity for Radiohead to move up to the level of superbands the likes of REM. The expectations are of course very high now and Thom finds it pretty hard to cope.
Thom: "Yeah... um, what can I say? um, it's fucking terrifying obviously it's um... (sighs) can't cope with it really... can't think of a way coping with it. I just sort of get on with it. I keep saying to myself, I'm not here and this is not happening.
DJ: "Thom would rather not be a "popstar"
Thom: "There's two ways to be a popstar. One way is, you go to the film openings, the fashion shows, you are seen to be a popstar, blah blah blah... but I've got a problem with that, 'cause I don't... I'm not interested in these people. The reason why I am not interested in these people is 'cause they spend the whole fucking time going to these fucking openings to be seen, to be popstars or whatever it is and... um...I don't get on with the people that are at these things, um, and I need my time and my space... euhhhh... to errrrr... to, to centre, you know to get back down to earth or something vaguely resembling it. How does it feel to be a popstar? It's a useful thing to have, 'cause it's a way of part of what I do, but it is not, errr... I think it's pretty... a fucking lame thing to put on your passport, let's put it that way.
DJ: "Thom even does no longer find it worthwhile to write songs about it, like he used to do."
Thom: "No, I didn't want to write about it anymore as a thing, I just thought at the time it was sort of all I could write about 'cause I couldn't deal with it and now I feel sort of a million miles away from it. I think it is sort of pretty much impossible to justify writing about these things which are of fucking no consequence to anybody really you know out of the tortured whims of some empty-headed actress or whatever, a popstar is really not gonna save the fucking world is it?"
[Karma Police played]
DJ: "Thom doesn't deny he leads an unhealthy life. In Munich it got so bad that he collapsed on stage. He was feeling really ill, but the doctor who was bribed by the promoter declared him fit enough to play."
Thom: "The doctor came round at four o'clock, because every time you don't do a show, you have to get a doctor's certificate saying you are too sick to do a show, just like school, so you have a fucking sicknote. If you don't get the sicknote, you get sued for thousands and thousands and thousands of pounds. I needed this thing, but of course the doctor was paid for by the promoter. So the doctor turns up and he has two bags full of drugs - all with German names that I didn't understand. And he says take this, take that blah blah blah and I said no, no fucking way. I don't know what these things are and I am not taking them, you know. He says 'you're fine, you're fine to do the show' and I was like : I can't fucking speak, let alone sing. He said : 'oh well, I'll just inject you with steroids then and you'll be fine'. Because this is what they do, they inject steroids in you neck and I am not going to do that. So I was like: ok, so it's too late to cancel the show, the doctor won't give me a sicknote, I'm gonna have to go on and do this show, I don't have a choice. I'd gone on and do the show and three songs in, I collapsed. After weeks and weeks of this building up in my head, you know. It happened four times before that during the course of a 4 months tour that I was ill, same thing over and over again. Doctors paid for by promoters. Anyway, I just snapped.
DJ: "What is your worst habit?"
Thom: "My worst habit is drinking until I'm sick all over the bathroom, which I keep doing. You know people do that. Normally people do that every 5 years and go: oh God, I can't believe I did that. I'm still at the stage that you are when you are a teenager. I get so drunk that I can't speak anymore."
[Fitter Happier played]
DJ: "Fitter Happier is a list of directives for a better and healthier life, a list that Thom drew up for himself.
Thom: "I think you get to a certain point in your life and you try hard to do all those things and... ahum, and then you can't quite work out why. It was a long list of things that... aaaah, ummm, errrrr... I went through about a 4 week period when I couldn't write anything at all lyrically or anything and it was a really serious writer's block and then it got so bad that I just spent every day... I'd get up at 8 in the morning and I'd go and just walk all day till about 6 or 7 at night and go out and get drunk and then come home... errr and after the 3rd day of doing that, I had this long list."
DJ: "Let's talk about happier things: the music Thom and Jonny Greenwood wrote for the Velvet Goldmine for instance, the movie made by REM singer Michael Stipe
Thom: "Yeah, that was cool! That was cover of errrmm me and Jonny and Bernard Butler and this brilliant drummer called Cloon (?!), we were doing ermmmm em Roxy Music covers of 2hb and Bittersweet and erm can't even remember the other one, um and it was great erm we did it like two days after we had mastered the record you know I went in and did an impression of Brian Ferry and then met him two days later as well, that was wild. And Brian Eno, and it was all sort of orchestrated by um well put together by Michael Stipe 'cause he is executive producer of the film so it was a chance to see him again, which was really good."
DJ: "Finally the bandname - we read that Thom initially wanted to call the band Music or Jude (after Jude the Obscure) but in the end they all settled for Radiohead."
Thom: "Music, I thought was my favourite actually, but I think there's a band called Music now. Um I mean that was sort of the most obnoxious thing you could possibly do. But um, Jude was a bit pretentious I think, that was probably my fault. What else? Umm, we were going to call it Gravitate at one point, that is equally obvious and awful, um no Radiohead was cool and it is still cool, because it just sums up all these these, you know, things about receiving stuff and blah blah blah all these people in America have these teeth you can pick up radio on, have you heard about that? They have this sort of metal in their teeth and stuff and some of them can pick up radio with it and I think that is very cool. And now of course they can implant things into your head that they can work and sort of well observe your brainpatterns and stuff. Radiohead is sort of... it's brilliant.
[Subterranean Homesick Alien played]