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Sunday, March 25, 2007

1993-08-15 | LA Times

Obsessed with a Misery that Begets Company

Steve Hochman

In rock -- perhaps more than anywhere else -- it seems that misery loves company. So now, in the tradition of Morrissey and the
Cure, the members of Radiohead have achieved the oxymoronic situation of having a song about how miserable they are cause
fans to tell them how wonderful they are.

For Thom Yorke, the band's singer and the writer of the self-loathing anthem "Creep," the guitar-driven first single from the debut
album "Pablo Honey," it's a dream come true.

"I remember being 8 years old and telling my guitar teacher that I was going to be a rock star and the teacher laughing his head
off," says Yorke, 24.

Radiohead, he says, grew out of a longstanding friendship between him and his Oxford, England, mates Jon and Colin Greenwood,
Ed O'Brien and Phil Stewart, whose influences ranged from Queen to Joy Division.

"It was never a case of just playing music," he says. "We were obsessed by it, but we were also obsessed with pushing the band
and with success."

And success it is having. The album has sold a solid 400,000 copies in the U.S., while the "Creep" single is nearing the 300,000
mark. How is Yorke enjoying the new-found fame?

"It lives up to what I'd imagined and more. It's like joining the circus or something."

But perhaps the ultimate punch line to the dryly humorous "Creep" -- which includes such lines as "You're so very special/I wish I
was special/But I'm a creep/I'm a weirdo/What the hell am I doing here/I don't belong here" -- is that Yorke isn't really miserable.
The song, he explains, isn't about how he feels, but is simply an observation of a character. Ditto for "Prove Yourself," which takes
the theme a step further.

"People have immediately said that we're a down band, that we write exceptionally depressing songs simply because of 'Creep,' "
he says. "But I'm not actually trying to discuss directly the personal sort of teen-age melodrama."

The irony is that as fans read their own meanings into the song, the effect has been to make Yorke, in some ways, a bit depressed.

"These songs are very personal," he says. "But 'Creep' has been taken into so many contexts that it's everybody else's song now,
and I have to let that lie, sadly."

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