Pittsburgh, august 13th 1997
[Interview with Ed]
This is a transcript from an audio recording of the broadcast.
[recording starts here]
Interviewer: "Sublime, have to take a break, because out of the storm came Ed O'Brien, the guitarist from Radiohead. I'm apologising already for the weather although, you know what? That's stupid because back home it does this all the time, correct?
Ed: "Um... yeah!
Interviewer: "Wait, can you...
Ed: "This one here?
Interviewer: "Yes. Pick one and stick with it.
Ed: "This is, kind of, a typical English summer.
Ed: "I feel very at home here, yes.
Interviewer: "Okay! Well then you know what? I'm glad it's raining cause we would want you to feel comfortable. Okay. [laughs] We prefer the sun but that's okay. I was just telling you about the little fair last night at the Coca-Cola Star Lake. Really, really bad weather so we're glad that...
Ed: "We're indoors?
Interviewer: "...you're indoors.
Ed: "All these shows are indoors...
Interviewer: "That was my selling point last night.
Interviewer: "But you know what? I didn't need to sell it, 'cause the show is sold out tonight at Metropol.
Ed: "Is it really?
Interviewer: "Yes it is.
Ed: "I heard there were 50 tickets left. No?
Interviewer: "50 people went down there.
Ed: "Ah, right, okay. Great.
Interviewer: "Snapped them right up. Teenage Fanclub opening up for you tonight?
Ed: "Yeah, fantastic band.
Interviewer: "Are they?
Interviewer: "What are they like?
Ed: "They are... I think this is their fourth album, Songs from the North of Britain. They're just an amazing band. They've got their own sound and they sing the most amazing harmonies. They're a four-piece, two guitars, bass and drums, and we've been fans... in fact, when we first started the band we blatantly ripped them off.
Interviewer: "Oh my, true confessions on The X, I love this! Go ahead, Ed, dish out more.
Ed: "So it's great to... I saw them play in Oxford – in our hometown – about two months ago, and just, the gig was amazing. So we went backstage and met them and then went back to the band and talked about whether we could have them opening up for us over here for a month, and it's just been great.
Interviewer: "And obviously they're big fans of yours.
Ed: "Ah, yeah, I was talking to Paul, the drummer, last night and he said - before this show in New York they came to see about a month ago - he hadn't heard... he hadn't got any of our albums or anything but he knew what the songs...
Ed: "Which is great, you know? I don't expect people to know our material! [laughs]
Interviewer: "But as long as you ripped them off one song, they're feeling pretty good! [laughs]
Ed: "Well we ripped them off from the beginning. Yeah, definitely...
Interviewer: "Well, I read somewhere that, quote, “Rock 'n' roll is the most important thing to Radiohead, but it's also the biggest joke”, which I can understand but I just want you to explain about it.
Ed: "Yeah. I think the rock 'n' roll in this context - the most important thing is the music, which I guess that, you know... broad-term speaking we do play rock 'n' roll, but in terms of the whole rock 'n' roll... the trappings, the... we didn't get into this band...
Interviewer: "Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll...
Ed: "[laughs] Well, there's more to it. The trappings...
Interviewer: "[off] Did we get him tested before he entered?
Ed: "[laughs] The trappings...
Interviewer: "[off] LENNY!
Ed: "There's more... there's the other stuff as well, there's all the [??] and to be honest, if you concentrate on the music you don't have that much time for the rest of the stuff. We do have our weaknesses, and our temptations...
Interviewer: "And they're none of our business!
Ed: "No... [laughs]
Interviewer: "I'll tell you mine, you tell me yours. Never mind. [laughs] All right, also, the band began out of sheer boredom? Nothing going on over in England?
Ed: "Well, not strictly in England. We were in Oxford, or just outside Oxford.
Ed: "Oxford's quiet in a funny way. But we were all at school together and this was back in, like, '85-'86.
Ed: "And we just had a lot of time to use up, and I think that's why bands form, don't they? I mean, they form largely to form your own little gang, your own little bubble, your own little world. It's us against the rest of the world, and that's what we did. Those were the initial reasons. We weren't initially friends, but we became friends through it. It's great.
Interviewer: "Like, band competition type of deal, cross-town?
Ed: "Yeah, there wasn't too much of that. We were the only band around for a while.
Ed: "Yeah. Well, Oxford... there was nowhere to play so bands didn't form; we just used to play in village halls.
Interviewer: "Yeah. Well, because you were doing something, just kind of doing your own thing, everybody warned you that you were being too American? First of all, should we be offended by that? [laughs]
Ed: "No! I mean, the bands... when we... apart from Teenage Fanclub we ripped off – we ripped off the Pixies, Dinosaur Jr, Throwing Muses... these are bands who had enormous influence over us. 'Cause they were... those bands, you have to remember – in like the late 80s, mid to late 80s - they were the only bands with guitars that were actually doing something interesting, especially the Pixies. So they were an enormous influence upon us, and the whole thing of three guitarists and three distortion pedals, as we had it, was like, “Yeah, let's go for it!”
Ed: "So, big, big nod to the East Coast scene over here.
Interviewer: "You rip it off well, Ed. [laughs]
Ed: "Yeah. [laughs] We stopped ripping it off though, I think. I hope so.
Interviewer: "[laughs] Just kiddin'. What are you... be honest, do you like America?
Ed: "Yeah! I do, I haven't really been to Pittsburgh, and I walked around for about an hour today and I was saying - the architecture is amazing. I'm really interested in place like Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit... places that used to have a huge industrial base and have now obviously had to reinvent themselves, somehow.
Interviewer: "The renaissance, yes.
Ed: "Yeah, I would have loved to have seen Pittsburgh twenty-five, thirty years ago, with a full employment, the steel mills going...
Interviewer: "The black smog...
Ed: "The black smog. All these things, it's very interesting. These are memories I have of pictures, very early pictures, of America when you're young, and this... “The land of the free”, the “American Dream” and everyone had a job, everyone had a bit of money in their pocket. And it's really interesting to see the way that the same thing has happened in Britain but, of course, it was on a smaller scale. We didn't have the huge industry that you did have over here. So, I love... I really enjoy being a tourist in America and I've really enjoyed being in Pittsburgh today, so far.
Interviewer: "You make being American much more thrilling than I had ever imagined! [laughs]
Ed: "[laughs] Well, you know. It's that whole thing about coming from a different country and...
Interviewer: "Yes, yes...
Ed: "...as a kid, as well, in England you have to realise - and in Europe - that the influence of America over the rest of the world... we had all these TV programmes. Earliest memories were things like Starsky & Hutch.
Interviewer: "Oh, yeah!
Ed: "What else was there? There were... Champion the Wonder Horse, black & white stuff... Bewitched, that was my favourite – I was totally in love with Samantha when I was like five years old...
Interviewer: "Oh, cool!
Interviewer: "So all these Casey Jones, all these programmes were like... we were just fed American TV and it was great. Some of it was... Hawaii Five-O? It was great stuff.
Ed: "I think it's a lot better, those programmes maybe it's not so good but those programmes are a lot better than a lo of the programmes being made nowadays over here.
Interviewer: "Have you ever heard of the Nickelodeon channel?
Interviewer: "Okay. It's an off-shoot of MTV.
Interviewer: "And they show those type of...
Ed: "Oh, cool!
Interviewer: "Bewitched... oh, honey you've got to tune in!
Ed: "Oh, I still love Bewitched!
Interviewer: "I think at 8:30 or 9 o'clock, yeah. And then they spawned this TV Land where they go even deeper, they even show some of the old commercials.
Ed: "Well, we had, at the time, we had three channels in Britain, when we were kids. There are five now, there used to be four. But we had three channels, which is great, and we used to have all the 'Laurel and Hardy's, as well. Laurel and Hardy on at 6 o'clock in the evening. We were brought up with American TV and it's very interesting – in somewhere like Europe, a lot of... and especially Holland, if you go to Holland, the Dutch are very good at speaking English but they speak it like it's spoken in Starsky & Hutch!
Ed: "It's really, really interesting! [laughs]
Interviewer: "Well, you know, I always did like Huggy Bear. [laughs]
Ed: "Huggy Bear was the man! He was great; he was such a cool dude!
Interviewer: "He was the man! I know, that's cool. Well, it's my goal before I die to go over to... see now, I made the mistake; I am geographically challenged. When I said England, I meant the whole country...
Ed: "Yeah, England, Ireland, Scotland, Northern Ireland...
Interviewer: "...and that's wrong, isn't it? Britain, I should've said Britain.
Ed: "That's fine. If Teenage Fanclub were here – 'cause they're Scottish – they would kind of, correct you on that.
Interviewer: "And I would expect to be corrected.
Ed: "Yeah, absolutely, yeah.
Interviewer: "[laughs] But I definitely would like to make it over there. And you know what? Why don't you... why don't you hum a tune while I go get your CD?
Ed: "No way.
Interviewer: "Kill some time!
Ed: "No, I've just...
Interviewer: "[off] KILL SOME TIME, ED, COME ON! I have to go over.
Ed: "I've just had a cigarette, so... I'm not, probably, supposed to say that on air. Cigarettes are probably taboo, still. They are more and more so, in this country.
Interviewer: "Well, you know, R.J. Reynolds...
Ed: "There was a great...
Interviewer: "They do a mighty fine business here in America.
Ed: "What's weird [is], I went for a coffee in this place this morning, and one of the great things I already like about Pittsburgh is you can go and have some breakfast and have a cigarette indoors, and not feel like an impostor or an alien and have to go and smoke it outside. I know that's very un-PC smoking these days but you can have a few vices.
Interviewer: "This is here, in Pittsburgh?
Interviewer: "Where were you? [laughs] Lots of places...
Interviewer: "Oh, yeah!
Ed: "It was very cool. Espresso-cappuccino place. It was cool.
Interviewer: "Okay well I've got asthma and severe allergies so don't you dare light up in front of me, okay?
Ed: "No, I won't light up! [laughs]
Interviewer: "Radiohead tonight at Metropol with Teenage Fanclub! It is definitely going to be a good show, don't want you to miss it. Your request? We're gonna do...
Ed: "What's that then? Oh, off The Bends?
Interviewer: "Yes, yes.
Ed: "Well, instead of playing 'Creep', I thought we'd hear 'High and Dry'.
Interviewer: "Okay, your wish is my command.
Ed: "Thank you very much.
Interviewer: "Thank you for stopping by, have a good show!
[Fade in 'High and Dry']