interviews

Sunday, March 25, 2007

1993-10 | Creem Magazine

Interview
by Chris Nadler

Rock cynics, er, critics, love to banish a band to 'one-hit wonder' status whenever possible. Most recently, the members of radiohead found themselves being served with such extradition papers. These self-proclaimed purveyors of "angst music for angst people' barely
had time to pop open a bottle of bubbly to celebrate the not-
so-surprise success of their ode to self-loathing, 'Creep,' before select critics began writing them off as yet another lucky novelty act that happened to be in the right place at the right time.
And, those critics hastened to add, that time would soon be up. Upsetting news for a band that only formed (in Oxford, England) in 1991.
The band members-Thom E. Yorke (vocals, guitar), Jonny Greenwood ('abusive' guitar), Ed O'Brien ('polite' guitar), colin Greenwood (bass), Phil Selway (drums)-aren't letting it get to them, though. Truth Is, 'Creep' Is not an atypical track on their album, Pablo HoneV. In other words, folks buying it cause they like the single aren't likely to be disappointed or feel like they were hoodwinked. The guitars stutter, clammer, crackle, and howl in pain throughout Pablo's 12 tracks. Best of all, for those who felt a kindred spirit in "Creep," the neurotic tone of that song pervades the CD.

A Writer reviewing a show you did with PJ Harvey at the Ritz in New York advised the band to savor the moment, as 'Creep' would be your one and only shining moment. Do comments like that bother you?
THOM: [laughing]No, they may be right.
It doesn't worry you that 20 years from now, you might be introducing a new song and the crowd will be chanting for 'Creep'?

THOM:[Chuckling) I think worry Is something I do anyway, whatever It's about. So whether It's about that or something else is irrelevant. I suppose the thought that we might be represented by just the one song bothers me, yeah. It pisses me off, but at the same time I'd like to get on with my life, thank you very much. I should be grateful.

Tons of people must've gone, "Hey, I resemble that song," when they heard 'Creep, and listened to you sing such lines as "Cause . I'm a creep/Yeah, I'm a weirdo.' What kind of letters did you all get?
Ed: Obviously, the lyrics are personal to Thom, but they are also applicable to almost everyone. A lot of people have written in. It's amazing the number of letters we've received from people saying, -My god, this Is my song. I'm sure It's written about me."

They're so vain!
Ed: It's nice, though, because a lot of these people might be insecure or going through a bad time. I was that way with the Smiths. When I was a teenager, all I listened to were the Smiths and Echo & the Bunnymen. That's what I really got into. I was sure that Morrissey was penning lyrics for something I couldn't express very well. He was penning my thoughts.

So Just what do people write In these 'Creep'-Inspired letters?
THOM: Usually they're looking for something that we can't give them or that I can't give them.

What does that mean? Stock market tips, points on your next album, Daisy Fuentes's home phone number?
Thom: Well, I don't know. I mean, we're not really qualified. Some people see It as humor and some people don't. They see It all the way down the line as tragic or whatever.

Were you at all concerned that you might be lumped In with other so-called shoegazer bands?
Thom: Not at all. Obviously, the press likes to try to neatly categorize music. We're the underdogs, and In a way that's been nice, but we're constantly sort of hitting our heads against a wall.
We have a love/hate relationship with the press back home, for Instance.

Work with me on this one. If you were In a shoegazer band, what kind of shoes would you wear?
Thom: I'm gazing at my trusted green Converse that I wore our whole tour. I suppose I'd get some boots. I like Doc Marten boots. I'm just more into practical stuff, really. I pretty much dress In black and white.
Ed: Sandals. Definitely sandals, because I normally wear only boots. So sandals would be a nice relief. I always wanted a pair, but I never had the guts to buy any.

Gotcha. By the way, do you want me to write 'hint, hint' In parentheses or just let our readers Interpret that revelation on their own?
Ed: (laughing) Did I mention that I'm a size 8?

Let's talk about the new single. 'Stop Whispering.- We singled that on out months ago In Creem, before the album was even released In the States. Ed: It's a new version that they're playIng, you know. We re-recorded It.

Hey, the Police did that with 'Don't Stand So Close to Me.- Are you going to keep re-recording It, like an annual event?
Ed: {laughing} We were just never happy with the version on the album. For us, It kind of lost the plot. So we rerecorded It In a day and a half-, It's more atmospheric now. Like a Joy Division from the late'70s, early'80s.
Thom: It does sort of blow to do that sort of thing, but It was quite old when we went Into the studio and we didn't have an angle on It. Later, on the album, we discovered what the angle was.

Ed, you've been dubbed tlhe 'polite' guitarist while Jonny's known as the 'abusive' guitarist. How were those roles arrived at?
Ed: Jonny plays more a lead role. I actually hate lead guitar. The only lead guitarist I like Is Jonny Greenwood. He's a riff-monger. I'm much more into people like Peter Buck and Peter Townshend.

And let's face it, you probably meet a lot more girls being polite than you do being abusive.
Ed: [laughs] In fact, it's really weird, because Jonny is the
most polite one out of all of us.

That's even worse. You get the girls even though he deserves them. There's one more thing we need to get straight. Your official bio suggests that you all like to dress up.
Ed: As what?

Supposedly you fancy western gear,specifically, dressing up as Billy the Kid.
Ed: [laughs] No! That's not true.
Thom: Those are the band's standing jokes.

So you're saying that Ed doesn't dress up as Billy the Kid.
Thom: Well, he might do It.

Let's say you suddenly felt an uncontrollable urge to dress up like someone or something, then, who would It be?
Thom: Ghandi. Definitely.

Bambi? You are creepy!
Thom: Yeah. Then I could shave my hair again.

Wait a minute. Are you saying Bambi, as in the lovable deer whose mother was killed in a forest fire?
Thom: Bam-? No, GHANDI! {laughs}

Truthfully, now, is everyone in the band neurotic?
Ed: It's strange. We did some gigs in Israel. We also did a radio show while we were there, during which they asked us to name some of our favorite records. Afterward, our manager said,"My god, you guys are melancholic! Every recored you picked was a melancholy tune, downbeat and slightly depressing." It's not something we realized that that's the kind of music we get off on. It gets down to a primitive level. A spine-tingling thing. But we're not wrecks, by any means.

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