It’s not often we get to hear an interview with Thom Yorke, so this brand new chat the Radiohead frontman had on BBC 6 Music’s “First Time” series is a cause for celebration. Speaking to host Matt Everitt, Yorke spent the better part of an hour digging deep into what spurred his love for music and the circumstances that led to the formation of Radiohead.
He also touched on why Radiohead has remained intact and continuously creative for so many years. “Everyone was coming to it from a different point of view, which was actually really good. Jonny comes to it from the point of view of searching to find the notes you shouldn’t use. Always has done. And the sounds you shouldn’t use. Colin comes to it from the point of view about arrangement. Phil comes into it about, like, feel, obviously because he’s the drummer. Ed’s coming with these extra sounds and stuff. But also, outside of that is how we approach everything else. Like, some guys in the band even before we signed any record deals or anything like that, they’d read all the books. They’d spent a long time reading about where the music business was at. In a way that was totally uncool.”
That led to Yorke claiming that Radiohead was part of the “last generation” to feel as if you must record in a studio environment. “You can only make a record in a studio, so you turn up in studio. It’s 1,000 pounds a day, but no pressure, right? Everyone was like, ‘I’m not sure about this. This doesn’t feel right at all.’ And actually realizing gradually that actually no, you don’t have to do it like this. And then realizing the technology you choose to use and how you choose to use it is part of your art and should be in your hands. It should be part of the creative process.”
Everitt and Yorke also discused Radiohead’s 20th anniversary reissue of OK Computer. “What I found really fascinating was going through my notebooks at the time, and making friends with whoever this nut was. Oh my god…think I’m bad now? Just pages of like, ‘seriously mate, you need to take a break.’”
Politics reared its head near the end of the conversation. Yorke discussed his early disillusionment with it, but said he remains an optimist: “One day at a time, mate,” he said before offering some thinly veiled jabs at the likes of right-wing firebrands Donald Trump and Theresa May. “You will be impeached shortly, mate. You are not a leader, love—and the people are going to see it very soon, love. One day at a time. You can’t sustain this. It’s not going to work. Good luck. One day at a time. We ain’t stupid.”