Sunday, December 30, 2007
AVC: Hail To The Thief was piled up with sound, but it felt like that was where the album was coming from. The music, the artwork, even the title "In Rainbows" suggests this album is coming from somewhere else.
TY: The title Hail To The Thief was pretty much stamped on the top of what was going on, just an anger thing. There was a lot of anger in that record—a lot. There's very little anger in In Rainbows. It's in no way political, or, at least, doesn't feel that way to me. It very much explores the ideas of transience. It starts in one place and ends somewhere completely different. That was the only way we could fit it together, but it turned out to be a real upside in the end. The first half of it is pretty raw, pretty hectic. Even though you have "Nude," what the lyrics are actually saying is pretty messed-up, nasty. After a while, everything calms down and you get it out of your system. You feel better; there's this feeling of elation. As far as the artwork goes, that was heavily influenced by the pictures NASA puts on their website. They have this great library of stuff online that we were looking at, and it coincided with [Radiohead album-cover artist] Stanley Donwood's experiments, throwing wax around. It was just experimentation, but it gave a sense of release, letting go.
EO: Stanley is always in the studio with us when we're working.
AVC: Is that by design?
EO: He's either in a little room adjacent or above us in the mezzanine, or in the shed at the bottom of the gully. He's always with us, and we need him in that creative process. Not just for his artwork, but because he'll say, "I know nothing about music, but that was fucking brilliant!" By being there, the music seeps into him. He listens to things the same we do, having it repeated over and over and over again. It gets in him, and the stuff in that—the mood of the songs—is conveyed in the artwork. He's a receptor to that, and that's great.
TY: There can be some really difficult times in the studio, but most of the time, we have a laugh in it. A lot of times, when we're doing the artwork and things, there is an element of comedy about it—I've been throwing wax at bits of paper! It's not exactly the punk ethic, but we always end up taking a piss.
EO: The last few records, Stanley's started off with erotic imagery.
TY: Right. His erotic topiary.
EO: Erotic landscapes.
AVC: You have to look pretty hard to find landscapes erotic.
TY: No, no, not at all! I could tell you all about that. For days and days probably.
AVC: You say In Rainbows isn't political, but the feeling of transition seems to match this country's feeling of political transition.
TY: There is a certain way of a life, a certain way of being, that is, one way or another, going to come to an end. Hopefully something good to come to fruition, or maybe nothing will. A lot of background to this, for me, is the environmental thing. I didn't want to put that anywhere in the music, but it's absolutely there all the time, in my consciousness.
AVC: Radiohead is nearly 20 years old. Being older, having families, and so on—how has that affected your music?
TY: It's harder to actually get time to work. It's harder to find your reason to work, and that isn't because you don't need to work, it's because you think, "More work? This is a young person's thing." But I don't agree with that at all. Music is music, and that's fucking nonsense. The reverse is true. There's that, but there's also the issues you face, that you're not the center of attention any more; you have children, and they are.
EO: What I liked about arriving at this record, thematically, was the lyrics had changed. What's really strong to me about the record is, the lyrics are perennial in their scope.
TY: They're positively evergreen.
EO: It's a very human thing. Music, at the end of the day, is communicating something—emotion, a feeling, a rite of passage, where you are in life. This record really does that. It's not a thing that's being written by someone who's in an exclusive position. It's something that's felt by everyone.
AVC: Was there a different tone from the start?
EO: The first thing I heard in the first rehearsal was Thom playing "House Of Cards," and I thought, "Hello there! Well, all right!" It's very strong, and I was like, "Yeah! I'm feeling it too."
TY: It's funny, because when I write lyrics and am using them in the rehearsal, people are like, "Well, I like that line, and I like that line, and blah blah blah" and usually, it's the lines I'm on the verge of throwing out. [Radiohead multi-instrumentalist] Jonny Greenwood is the best for that. I was writing this song the other day, and there's a line about voices down echo chambers, and I was literally about to delete it when Jonny goes, "That's the line I like!" It's the same thing on "Bodysnatchers," there's the line, "Has the light gone out for you? Because the light's gone for me." I was a bit unsure about it. When people respond positively to it, that's what stays in.Tuneful beauty has always been part of Radiohead songs (like the "rain down" climax in "Paranoid Android"), but such moments have seldom been allowed to linger. Asked the origins of the new mood, Yorke is as clueless as anyone.--http://www.avclub.com/articles/radioheads-thom-yorke-and-ed-obrien,14265/
"I don't know where it came from, to be honest," said the 39-year-old singer, laughing heartily. "I think (`In Rainbows') has its moments of fraught tension, like `Bodysnatchers' obviously. But it ends up in a good space. It starts off pretty anxious, but the end of `All I Need,' by that point, everything is like, `Ahhh' -- getting it out of your system."
"In Rainbows" may be a departure, but it's unmistakably Radiohead. Yorke is still singing about disconnection between people, which he cheerfully acknowledges: "It's part of my repertoire. It's what I do. Some people go and work at something they don't like, others talk about disconnection a lot."Colin Greenwood is talking about the weather, but not like people usually do, English people above all. The Radiohead bassist isn't thinking about the inconveniences of winter, but about what weather tells us about the lives we're living.--globeandmail
Speaking on the phone, he recalls going to hear Portishead play in Somerset in December, as the rains lashed down on the naked trees, with rainbows appearing whenever the sun came out.
You needed the rainbows, he says, to really grasp the starkness of the rest.
"They both need each other to exist, these transitory moments of beauty and this bleakness," he said.
So it is in life, and so also on Radiohead's latest disc, an album of beautiful, intermittently hopeful, but mostly despairing songs called In Rainbows.How did you sense the various interpretations of this album ?--Les Inrockuptibles (French magazine)
Thom: To be honest, we are certainly the two persons who never read nothing at all, never, of what is written about the band. We don't read any chronicle, any analysis. All that we've learned, we know it through what journalists who interview us repeat to us about what has been written or told.
Ed: Apparently, there have been unbelievable things put together about this album, theories developed by the most hardcore fans, who presumably listen to the album reversed, just to find clues in it.
Thom : My strategy is to confirm all the interpretations, to say 'yes' to all the hypothesises. Because after all I don't want to get anyone angry or upset...
After all, is it so important to release In Rainbows as a CD?
Thom: Extremely important. It was even one of the essential conditions to be able to act as we have. For two reasons: the first one is that we do not agree with the idea that the Internet would be the solution to any 'problem'--indeed, we do not agree either with this mental projection that there would be a parallel world, the virtual world of the Internet, in which things would be better... Then, we didn't like at all the idea to work so hard on an album and that people who like music couldn't hold a copy of it, as for our other albums. It seemed silly, closed-minded to us.
Ed : While we were recording the album, I remember that Nigel Godrich was getting annoyed all the time and kept repeating: 'I hate this fucking Internet'.
Thom: Yes, but at the same time, he spent hours reading comments on the Net. But why do that? Why read all that? You mustn't trust the comments of someone who doesn't tell you things face-to-face.
Has the decision to release In Rainbows as MP3 format changed anything in the making or composition of the album?
Thom: It hasn't changed anything. It hasn't been a problem in the composition and it hasn't altered at all the final result. The problem was just to find the most appropriate way for the songs to go well together: it sounds simple to say, but it is really a fucking nightmare to do. Because, played in a certain order, the songs of this album can be very heavy to digest, not much bearable. Most of all, we deliberately decided to turn to the model of classic albums which lasted 45 minutes - or even less when it comes to some Marvin Gaye albums... It's in this way, I think, that you make the most striking statements, the ones that the listener comes back to, gives time to, again and again. Otherwise, things take too much time, stretch and one loses the interest to plunge into it.
While listening to the album, it gets more melancholic, and in that it is very different from Hail To The Thief, which was released four years earlier.
Thom: Yes, in some way. But we also had to start the album with something very energetic, because we had been away for so long ... We had to find the best way to give people entrance doors, and also moments of rest within the album, while remaining very coherent with this idea of making the best possible thing. And also, I hope that when they reach a certain point of the album, people get totally lost, not knowing what to expect. I hope this album put them in a state of mind open to all possibilities.
Anyway it is a less angry album, less upset against its era.
Thom: Yes, but I don't know why.
Is it more intimate because it took more time to make it?
Ed : I think that it's the time of the life that imposed itself on us. I was listening again to The Bends and I was struck to hear at what point that album was choleric, whiny, with a lot of energy, but hugely possessed by anger. There was a lot of it as well in Hail To The Thief. But for this very album [In Rainbows], anger was not the most appropriate emotion. For example, one of the things I love this time in Thom's lyrics, is their timelessness. The first lines of the song "House Of Cards"--'I don't wanna be your friend, I just wanna be your lover'--could be drawn from a song by Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, Prince. These words hit right, at something very intimate.
Thom: Hail To The Thief was trying to start a fight, a battle. But I think that when recording In Rainbows, I was very tired of absorbing the external world within our music. And the intimate nature of this album is a kind of personal answer to a strange climate of general fear. It's our way of closing the shutters, to let the survival instinct guide us: not trusting anything else and relying only on the people around you.
Is it easy to do? What was profoundly different this time?
Thom: I work with what I have, I make do with what is at hand. For now, I have more than enough of the copy/paste. But also of the 'stream of consciousness', of the fact of setting down my thoughts on pages and pages. This time, the first draft imposed itself most of the time. It's doubtlessly the first time that I leave it so much to my instinct. Usually, the songs take time to come out, I think a lot about their meaning. Here, I tried to avoid this process and I tried to spit everything out, to make everything spurt at one stroke. What I feared with making interviews, was having to explain all these things that I actually wrote in a very spontaneous way.
Ed: There have been very similar moments to what we used to do before. But it was obvious that there were different things occurring there. And it's only afterwards, during the interviews, that I understood, by listening to Thom expressing himself, analysing himself, that he had really changed some things, but also that this time he didn't want to explain too much about his lyrics. Personally, I've been very touched by the lyrics of this album, by what they tell on the human condition and how they get to universality : after all, we are not different from other people.Why is it called In Rainbows?--observer.guardian.co.uk
'Um,' says Thom Yorke in the manner in which he begins most answers to most questions. Often he'll scratch his head, too, making him look totally Stan Laurel. 'Because it was the desire to get somewhere that you're not. I thought of that last night.'
So it's nothing to do with the theory posited by Cony Abbatemarco, director of food and nutritional services at Gaylord Hospital in Connecticut, who writes (and I quote): 'According to Genesis 9:1 (9+1 = 10!), God created the very first rainbow for Noah (Thom Yorke's son's name) as a symbol of gratitude and a promise of peace. This is known as the Noahic Covenant and in it God blesses Noah, his sons and all modern humankind. God promised Noah that never again would there be complete destruction to all living things. Is the In Rainbows title related to this?'
'Ha ha ha!' laughs Ed O'Brien. 'Excellent. I love this shit! Fair play to somebody who works this stuff out!'
'Uh-oh,' says Thom Yorke. 'No. That's pure coincidence. Having not read that particular section of the Bible ...' he adds with a wryness so thick you could eat it with a fork.
'Some people,' notes Phil Selway, 'have far too much knowledge for their own good, you know.'
'The In Rainbows cover art departs from the impersonal and apocalyptic imagery of recent albums. The music does the same. It's warm and inviting. The whole aesthetic points to a shinier, happier Radiohead. Do the band agree a shift has occurred? If so, why do they think it happened?'--Wes Jarrell, 25, USA
Thom: 'Uhm, yeah, kind of. More sort of explosive and ... Explosive is perhaps not the right word but in-your-face, spontaneous. That's what we were aiming at.'
Ed: 'I think the big thing was Thom's lyrics really. That always heralds something. The music always seems really strong, but the lyrics were ...'
Where has that come from within Thom?
Ed: 'I think not being scared to be personal. And not being scared to ... I think it was really liberating for him to do [his solo album] The Eraser. His voice is really upfront. That's the most noticeable thing. He's not hiding. And after OK Computer he sort of withdrew a bit. I think it's also being bold enough and brave enough to be personal. And you know what... there's stuff to write about in your late thirties. You've lived. You've started families up.'
Jonny: 'You're a different person.'
Ed: 'Yeah, you've stopped dealing with, "Me, I'm the centre of everything." Because you've got kids you can't do that. So, it changes. It was like, "Wow, there's a warmth to these songs, it's very human."'
'Lyrically, In Rainbows seems to revolve around infidelity and relationships. This is a big jump from the more world-focused, environmentally-charged lyrics in the previous two-three albums. Was Thom more focused on family life and dealing with personal matters during the songwriting process for this album?'--Bianca Carlson, 30, Denver, Colorado
Thom: 'More focused on not getting into large generalities, definitely. Other than that, I couldn't really say, to be honest.'
'To what extent is In Rainbows about middle-age malaise and the sort of drifting moods you find in the corners of 15-year-old marriages?'--Anthony Strain, 28, Modesto, California
Thom: 'It was much more about the fucking panic of realising you're going to die! And that any time soon [I could] possibly [have] a heart attack when I next go for a run. You know what I'm saying.'
Out there in the blogosphere, some people think super-brainy Radiohead do have all the answers. Many respondents to OMM's posting were seriously exercised by the conspiracy theories (they felt were) embedded within In Rainbows
Jonny Greenwood sits up at mention of this. 'You know all these, don't you?' says Ed O'Brien - the heartiest, most gregarious Radioheader--to his fellow guitarist. Greenwood, the youngest and possibly shyest member of the band, replies by looking sheepish.
These theories include the 'tenspiracy', so named because In Rainbows came out on 10/10, the title has 10 letters, as does OK Computer, and it's out 10 years after said album. There is supposedly some binary coding at work here. This is what Cony Abbatemarco was on about when he wrote 'According to Genesis 9:1 (9+1 = 10!)'.
So for the record: with regards to 'the Kid 17 and tenspiracy theories' (Neil Dooley, 19, Dundalk, Ireland); the idea that The Golden Section of In Rainbows occurs at exactly the moment in 'Reckoner' when the backing vocals sing the words "in rainbows" (Tom Ballatore, 37, in Kyoto, Japan); that the bonus disc's tracks correspond to the Star of Ishtar in Taoist philosophy (Curtis Perry, 19, Ontario, Canada); that In Rainbows is a 'Pynchonian citation' (Carlo Avolio, 22, Naples, Italy); that it relates to Conrad's Heart of Darkness (Alex Drossart, 18, Wisconsin); that it is conceptually linked with Goethe's Faust, notably in 'Videotape' ('When I'm at the pearly gates/this will be on my videotape/Mephistopheles is just beneath/and he's reaching up to grab me') - in definitive response to all those: Radiohead don't know anything about any of that stuff.
Thom: 'All good records have a heart of darkness.'
Phil: 'You've been asked that one before, obviously.'
Thom: 'I have, yep! I vaguely know the story of Faust. But that would involve me having remembered it in some detail or picked it off the shelf. Which I didn't. But yes, hmm, Goethe's Faust. I'm going to have to look that one up, actually, 'cause that sounds suitably pretentious. We live in Oxford, after all.'The first thing I saw when arriving at St. Pancras Station in London-–at your request, to spare the environment--was a rainbow.--Oor
Thom: Well, seems like Him up there has kept to our deal then, ha-ha.
Why did you name the record In Rainbows?
Colin: It was one of many suggestions, but it sounds cool, like it has an open ending. I immediately liked it, because it has lots of possible meanings. It has nothing of a slogan, nothing provoking...
Thom: Nothing polarising. It’s related to the artwork as well. That’s so weird. It happens a lot that the artwork gives you ideas... Stan was doing this wicked ink explosion thing.
Stan is your designer?
Thom: Stanley Donwood. It all started with him dropping a candle.
Colin: Seriously, when he was working at home one night.
Thom: That’s how the Big Fire in London started. He scanned the wax, which looked amazing. It fit very well with the rainbow idea. I started focusing on the words In Rainbows. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed to go with the idea of trying to reach something you can’t. It’s there but you can’t reach it.
A number of songs seemed to be about nature, and the human being, as a part of it, who doesn’t realise what he’s doing.
Thom: Wow! I haven’t heard it put like that yet, but it sounds great.
For example, the song about fish, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi. People are poisoning the sea, you’re singing, where do the poor fish have to go?
Thom: You know what it is? The entire time I was busy writing, I wanted to get away from these things. I was worried about those themes entering my work. But it was just there, whether I wanted it or not. To me, the most important line on this record is the word denial in "House of Cards", because that’s what it all comes from. Denial in every possible meaning. It was the only time I was aware of that.
What you’re talking about. At the end of the song, you sing your ears should be burning. Burning with shame, no? The human race should be thoroughly ashamed.
Thom: Yeah, you could say that. But of all the lyrics I’ve ever written, I hope that the ones on this record will deliver the widest range of interpretations.
In almost every song you constantly change perspectives: actor(???), victim, hunter, prey, polluter and endgangered species.
Thom: Bonkers! Fascinating interpretation, I hope everyone sees it like that.
You could interpret In Rainbows as a portrait of the 21st century man, who--despite trying to do what’s right--can’t fight them. ‘You can fight it like a dog and they brought me to my knees.’ The Bodysnatchers will get you in the end.
Thom: Well, the lyrics of "Bodysnatchers" came from cutting and pasting lines from The Stepford Wives. So there you go. I got obsessed with The Stepford Wives. I wrote lots and lots of excerpts from the book next to each other and started cutting.
Colin: It’s a book from the seventies. There’s movie now, too. It’s written by Ira Levin, who recently passed away. He also wrote The Boys From Brazil [and, more famous: the horror story Rosemary’s Baby (1967)].’
Thom: The idea that you can be captured by something external, a ghost, comes from The Stepford Wives. At the end of the movie you see a new conscience entering someone’s body.
The first song, "15 Step", starts with ‘How come I end up where I started? How come I end up where I went wrong?’. This seems to fit you guys. Every idealism dies in the cynicism of reality. For example, when I arrived here I started thinking: Oh God, these guys are no logo, but gosh, there’s a label on my T-shirt and one on my jacket as well. Then I started looking around and the only thing I saw was logos.
Thom (pointing at his own white trainers): Here, a logo as well! You can’t escape it. I wrote this album from a very harmonious thought. I didn’t want to fight anything, but at the same time I didn’t want to be apathetic. That kind of mood. The others caught up on it as well--that it was a personal record, or at least a human one. It felt good not to attack in any way for once. I didn’t want to judge everything, just sing like how I am, like what I’m feeling.
Is it hard not to judge yourself as well?
Thom: I’m only human, so... it’s about me, but... [long sigh] I’ll let this question pass.
Alright, "Nude" is an old song. What changed that made you get it right?
Thom: That’s the classical case of a song that hasn’t made sense for years, don’t you think, Colin?
Colin: One of the frustrating things of being a member of a band is that some songs mean everything to one person, but not to all of us. So one of us keeps going on and on about it, while the others try and look away. But that’s cool, you know.
Thom: I also felt very insecure about the way I had to sing "Nude". I didn’t know in what pitch. And the lyrics were too intimate, but too sweet as well. It’s only when Colin started knocking about with the bassline, that I could figure out how to sing it and get away with it. Also, the lyrics have fallen into place, while at the time... Nothing has changed about them, but still. They didn’t seem to make sense, and now they do.
It makes me think of a story where one band member wants to leave with a groupie, and the other saying: don’t do that, don’t get any big ideas, don’t give in to the temptation.
Thom: I don’t remember for sure , but Nude was written in the OK Computer era. It was more something like: 'Don’t play up your imagination, boy. Watch out so you don’t become something you aren’t.'
You didn't answer my question about judging yourself in your songs, but is it mere coincidence that Faust ("Faust Arp") as well as Mephistopheles ("Videotape") get a mention? The devil and the man who sold his soul to the devil?
Thom: Such literary references on this record! No, seriously, before today's interview sessions it hadn't crossed my mind for one second. [Half laughing, half surprised:] So weird.
Colin: Don't pay attention to that.
"Reckoner's" on the record.One of the most beautiful songs. What is "Reckoner" about?
Colin: About nature and what we discussed earlier. A friend of ours is making a video for "Reckoner". He's filming a lane, from up on the hill all the way down. He asked biologists to write down the names of all the different animals and insects living around this lane. He's filming from last summer to the start of this winter. He expected a few hundred species, but apparently it's more like a few thousand.
What exactly is a 'reckoner'?
Thom (with a difficult expression on his face): Actually I don't know what it is.
Colin: Jonny and Phil know what it is. It's an old word from the Bible for Peter at the Gates of Heaven.
Colin: Yes, the one that makes the Last Judgement, who weighs your good deeds against your bad ones.Steve: First time I heard this record, and you know me, I always give you an honest opinion, fessing up time, first time I heard it, what... the thing that I found really strange was there was no ...there didn't seem to be a center to this record. It didn't seem to have a certain sense of focus. You know, with previous, if you go back to say, Hail to the Thief, lyrically, there's various themes running through it: Fatherhood. Maybe the political landscape outside of you know the family home...--Thom and Ed (2007-11-19)
Steve: But there was something, sort of holding it together. Less so with this record. Do you think?
Thom: But, um, only because... no, the center is "Reckoner". I think.
Steve: Do you?
Thom: Yeah, it's cos that's where it goes into a space of its own. The central point: "Because we separate like ripples on a blank shore", is .... that's the center. Yeah. Everything's leading to that point and going away from that point.
Steve: Right...so literally it's quite like..
Thom: For me anyway...
Steve:... dropping a pebble...
Thom: And I tell you what though, we did something this morning, we were talking to someone this morning, and, there's all these mad theories on the net. I mean, I don't know, I'm not one of those people who reads em, but someone read one out to me, it's all about Tens and apparently, mathematically that IS the centerpoint!
Steve: Is it??
Ed: The golden section.
Thom: Was that the thing?
Ed: The golden section theory.
Thom: The golden section theory, so if you really, really, really, really, really stuck for something to do, you could always read up about that!
Steve: Um, ok! Musically though, as well, you've mined various things with different albums, tested different parts of what the band is about and what it's capable of doing, this one feels like you've gone down, you've gone down...down the mine, but possibly found different seams. You're working on different parts, stretching different parts of your music.Instead of going particularly in one direction.
Thom: Really..? Huh... I think, I think there was less of trying to follow an aesthetic and more of trying to sort of be true to the songs themselves, and what was going on with the words of the songs. Ed was big on the words in this record. He kept ...kept sort of focusing back on that.
Ed: That to me is the ...I kind of, you know, for me music, with music in the last four years, I went through, personally I went through a phase of like not being able to really listen to music, like four years ago. And the thing I came back to, is , a song. A song is lyrics, you know? A song is a singer, that's eighty percent of it, and the music is like twenty percent, it's the thing that backs it...
Thom: Have we discussed this with our publishers lately?
Thom: Sorry, carry on...
Ed: Well, it's about half and half with respect to... Um, that was the thing for me, was like, the most noticeable thing for me when we reconvened was: there were these lyrics, and sort of really latching onto the lyrics, cause I felt like they were sort of, they were universal, there wasn't a political agenda, it was being human, you know, there's a lot of humanity in them.
Steve: I think that's the intimacy thing...
Steve: That connection
Ed: I was getting a buzz hearing the lyrics, and that had been on a genuine very sort of profound level. And, so, I think it was really, I think, what you'd done on the Eraser as well, the voice, for us, hearing the voices up front, you know, you weren't...you didn't pull the voice back. And so the voice is up front, so that was really good to hear. We were like, wow, we need to do that. And, it was just getting the songs right, and getting the background right to the vocal and to get these lyrics heard, because that's basically what it's about....In Rainbows carries some of Radiohead’s most beautiful tracks. Soulful and melodic, it’s a u-turn from the harsher electronic sound of earlier albums Kid A and Amnesiac.--Colin Greenwood (Sun | December 2007)
The eerily delicate "House Of Cards" and the stunning "Reckoner" are among the highlights.
Colin says: “I also love Reckoner, because it’s like happy/sad music. It reminds me of Lucky on OK Computer or Yellow by Coldplay.
“You listen to it because you want to but it still tugs at you.
“When Thom’s singing the main melody, it repeats again and again. We recorded our own breaks and we are all playing little percussion instruments and recorded it on this one piece of tape.
“But my favourite is "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi", which is amazingly beautiful. The song gives you hope and then it goes down again.
“It’s up and down, with self-belief and self-doubt and emotional rushes and surges.”
Old track "Nude" made it on to In Rainbows, even though it had been played live as far back as 1998.
Colin says: “Thom felt it was right now, as he is in a place in his life where the words make sense to him.
“When we wrote it in the early Nineties, it didn’t feel right to him. Thom would say this album was also right for it because I finally came up with a bassline. It’s a soul thing.
“It was like a picture that wasn’t right for years and now it works for him.
“And in the context of the record it’s kind of about love so it works in that setting.”
So how did Radiohead decide which tracks featured on the original download album and as the extra tracks on the box set?
“It wasn’t a case that they weren’t good enough. They just didn’t fit. I like the fast ones on the record and I love the slow ones on the other one.
“The song "4 Minute Warning", I love. It starts with this white noise. Thom was writing it around that period of the July 7 terrorist attacks and that air of panic and fear. It’s really downbeat and downtempo and deals with really heavy stuff.
“Then the song, "Last Flowers" is about dealing with crap on a daily basis. How you deal with a bad day.
Thom said that In Rainbows “was much more about the f**king panic of realising you’re going to die! And that any time soon I could possibly have a heart attack when I next go for a run. You know what I’m saying?”
Do Colin and the rest ever quiz Thom about his lyrics?
“No. Thom doesn’t have to explain his lyrics to us as they are really clear.
“These songs are so beautiful and so personal, about who you could be with and the choices you’ve made in your life.
“They’re love songs or songs with the promise of love. They’re emotional songs that relate to people’s lives directly. Everyone falls in and out of love.
“Thom is such an emotionally honest person. He’s either on or he’s not,
“There’s no pretending to put the light on, which is why he’s such an amazing performer. He doesn’t take a back seat and fake the emotions.”It's about that anonymous fear thing, sitting in traffic, thinking, 'I'm sure I'm supposed to be doing something else'.--Thom Yorke, NME
Interestingly enough it's similar to OK Computer in a way. It's much more terrifying. But OK Computer was terrifying too -some of the lyrics were.Five shows into the first leg of their North America tour, they played confidently. At one point, Yorke urged the soaked crowd to “cuddle,” an unthinkable prospect for a Radiohead concert. Tuneful beauty has always been part of Radiohead songs (like the “rain down” climax in ‘Paranoid Android’), but such moments have seldom been allowed to linger. Asked the origins of the new mood, Yorke is as clueless as anyone.--
“I don’t know where it came from, to be honest,” said the 39-year-old singer, laughing heartily. “I think (‘In Rainbows’) has its moments of fraught tension, like ‘Bodysnatchers’ obviously. But it ends up in a good space. It starts off pretty anxious, but the end of ‘All I Need,’ by that point, everything is like, ‘Ahhh’, getting it out of your system.”
‘In Rainbows’ may be a departure, but it’s unmistakably Radiohead. Yorke is still singing about disconnection between people, which he cheerfully acknowledges: “It’s part of my repertoire. It’s what I do. Some people go and work at something they don’t like, others talk about disconnection a lot.”Pitchfork: With Kid A and Amnesiac, the band almost totally reinvented its sound, and Hail to the Thief was restless in its way. But In Rainbows seems more comfortable and relaxed. Was there a turning point for the band during the recording of the record?--
CG: We handed ourselves over to our producer Nigel Godrich. We did one session in a crumbling country house and one in a reconditioned country house and then we reconvened in February of last year-- that was the turning point. We recorded "15 Step" and "Arpeggi" in our studio in Oxford in two days and it was really good. We'd recorded those songs a half dozen or a dozen times, but we went back in and played them again and everyone wasn't thinking about what they were doing as much. I think if it's quite painful and it takes a while it tends to be good...which is sort of a contradiction of what I said earlier.
Pitchfork: In an interview before the recording of In Rainbows, you suggested the band might be feeling too safe in terms of your close relationship with Nigel Godrich.
CG: It wasn't about being too safe with him, he just wasn't around because he was working with Charlotte Gainsbourg and Beck. It wasn't like he was twiddling his thumbs and we were like, "Ah well, we won't give him a ring." So when we tried to work with with [producer] Spike Stent, it was more out of a desperation to try to get things moving. It didn't work out. But Spike actually turned the crank to get the engine going.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Lyrics from the songs in "In Rainbows" by Radiohead. These are the official lyrics from the lyrics booklet in the album. I'll post the scans from the pages when I have them. I do realize there are lines that are not actually what Thom sang in the album versions, and some lines are missing that he did sing. But I merely transcribed the official lyrics.
you used to be alright
did the cat get your tongue?
did your string come undone?
one by one
it comes to us all
it’s as soft as your pillow
you used to be alright
et cetera et cetera
fads for whatever
15 steps then a sheer drop
how come I end up where I started?
how come I end up where I went wrong?
won’t take my eyes off the ball again
you reel me out then
you cut the string
The first song, "15 Step", starts with ‘How come I end up where I started? How come I end up where I went wrong?’. This seems to fit you guys. Every idealism dies in the cynicism of reality. For example, when I arrived here I started thinking: Oh God, these guys are no logo, but gosh, there’s a label on my T-shirt and one on my jacket as well. Then I started looking around and the only thing I saw was logos.--Oor (2007)
Thom (pointing at his own white trainers): Here, a logo as well! You can’t escape it. I wrote this album from a very harmonious thought. I didn’t want to fight anything, but at the same time I didn’t want to be apathetic. That kind of mood. The others caught up on it as well – that it was a personal record, or at least a human one. It felt good not to attack in any way for once. I didn’t want to judge everything, just sing like how I am, like what I’m feeling. (???)
Is it hard not to judge yourself as well?
Thom: I’m only human, so... it’s about me, but... [long sighing] I’ll let this question pass.
John: “15 Step”, where does this figure in that timeline that we were just discussing in such great detail?--2008-01-03 | XFM Radio Interview
Thom: [laughs] Um, uh…
John: Is it worth trying?
Thom: Yeah, no. It was kind of a cool one because um… uh, I think for a lot of people it was a sort of breakthrough song for us because it came together very fast. I mean, what you just heard is basically one take, um, with almost nothing changed at all. Um… uh… so and it was… it evolved in a very interesting way as well because it was originally extremely electronic, and very much sort of… um, stripped, and noisy. Um, and then we sort of wanted to work out a way of doing it live, um, and then out of that came the one that you heard. And it’s sort of just, you know, everything’s sort of… it turned into something… we agonized over like whether um, the real scrouchy electronic one was good, or whether this one was good, and it was a sort of blindingly obvious that what we ended up with was miles better. And it was very much in the sort of vein of when we finished Kid A and stuff, like say, “Idioteque”, which was, you know, has a very specific sort of sound on the record and then when we sort of try to work out how to play it live, it became something even more sort of bigger and madder. Uh, and the “15 Step” is sort of the same sort of thing, really. Um, it’s sort of got an important lesson that we learned during that period.
I do not
what it is
I've done wrong
full of holes
check for pulse
blink your eyes
1 for yes
2 for no
I have no idea what I am talking about
I am trapped in this body and can't get out
you killed the sound
a pale imitation
with the edges sawn off
i have no idea what you are talking about
your mouth only moves with someone's hand up your ass
has the light gone out for you?
because the light's gone out for me
it is the 21st century
it is the 21st century
it can follow you like a dog
it brought me to my knees
they got a skin and they put me in
they got a skin and they put me in
on the lines wrapped around my face
on the lines wrapped around my face
are for anyone else to see
are for anyone else to see
I'm a lie
....the waterfall of gadgets family cars and paperback books.--Radiohead site 2
"as specific causes of disease disappear, a growing proportion of people die of what are called stress diseases, or diseases of degeneration caused by stress, that is, by the wear and tear resulting from conflicts, shocks, nervous tension, frustration, bilitating rhythms.."
that's real life. my everyday life.
What about this feeling of never really being inside your own skin? Let nobody say these are minor details or secondary points. There are no negligible irritations: gangrene can start in the slightest graze. A man carried along by the crowd, which only e can see, suddenly screams out in an attempt to break the spell, to call himself back to himself, to get back inside his own skin. The tacit acknowledgments, fixed smiles, lifeless words, listlessness and humiliation sprinkled in his path suddenly sur into him, driving him out if his desires and his dreams and exploding the illusion of being together. People touch without meeting; isolation accumulates but is never realised; emptiness overcomes us as the destiny of the crowd gathers. the crowd drags e out of myself and installs thousands of little sacrifices in my empty presence......
after Raoul Vanegeim the revolution of everyday life
"I don't know if anybody else has this feeling. When you're walking down the street and you catch your reflection in something like a car window or a shop window and you see your face and you think, 'Who's that?'. You know: 'That's not me, that doesn't represent who I am'. And I think I've recently discovered what the problem is and it's a feeling that essentially you're just in a room full of mirrors. You can shoot at all the reflections, but basically it's all meaningless because you're just trapped and you put yourself there. I've realised recently that it's actually worrying about it that's the fucking problem. It's actually saying, 'No, this is me, that's not me', and being precious about who you are, because I believe now that everyone changes all the time. I think the most unhealthy thing for a human being is to feel that they have to behave in a certain way because other people expect them to behave like that, or to feel they have to think in a certain way because what happens then is basically your mind goes round in circles."--Thom on Thom
i do not understand what it is ive done wrong--'scrapbook' radiohead.com
i've been skating on surface now my ice has finally melted
the top has come off the gas is escaping
i do not understand what it is ive done wrong
'BODYSNATCHERS CAME and took the real me'--(2006 radiohead calendar)
you gotta close your eyes... and groove out to this one. And think of uhh trying to escape from the Stepford Wives. That's what I think of.--Thom Yorke
You could interpret In Rainbows as a portrait of the 21st century man, who – despite trying to do what’s right – can’t fight the system. ‘You can fight it like a dog and they brought me to my knees.’ The Bodysnatchers will get you in the end.--Oor (2007)
Thom: Well, the lyrics of "Bodysnatchers" came from cutting and pasting lines fom The Stepford Wives. So there you go. I got obsessed with The Stepford Wives. I wrote lots and lots of excerpts from the book next to each other and started cutting.
Colin: It’s a book from the seventies. There’s a movie now, too. It’s written by Ira Levin, who recently passed away. He also wrote The Boys From Brazil [and, more famous: the horror story Rosemary’s Baby (1967)].’
Thom: The idea that you can be captured by something external, a ghost, comes from The Stepford Wives. At the end of the movie you see a new conscience entering someone’s body.
John: And “Bodysnatchers” is the next song. Was this road tested as well?--2008-01-03 | XFM Radio Interview
John: This is road tested. Is that fuzzy guitar? Is that guitar or bass?
Thom: Yeah, it’s guitar. It’s um… uh, Nigel has this really wicked old mixing desk that he managed to get off a studio in L.A., which was… it’s the same… exactly the same model—if you’re interested in this, if you’re not then turn off—the…
John: [laughs] [whispers] Don’t turn off!
Thom: No, go on, they won’t. It’s a Motown desk. It’s from like late 60’s. It’s the exact model that they used to record Motown stuff. Um, of course, and if you turn on everything on full, it sounds exactly like a guitar and it sounds like that.
John: I think it sounds brilliant. It kind of sounds like Sabotage or something like that, but at least it was in that fuzzy…
Thom: In my dreams, yeah.
Ed: [laughs] You’re just saying the right things!
John: That’s how it sounds to me. Is it a film reference at all? Invasion of the Bodysnatchers? Near the end I thought…
Thom: Actually, it was a film reference but not that one. It was a… I started the tune um, watching the original Stepford Wives… bizarrely…and cutting and pasting bits from that. But I think it never actually got used. That’s where the tune started from. I got a little bit obsessed by Stepford Wives. Watched it several—three or four times.
John: So in a way I guess that’s about bodies being possessed.
Thom: Yeah, well there’s the bit at the end where uh, yes all the women are finally being turned into the robots or whatever. Anyway… uh. But also the song actually—the title actually came from a very strange ghost story—a Victorian ghost story.
John: Any further elucidation on that?
Thom: No. Pfft. Just, you know… digging up bodies, you know, Sun in the morning and then the bodies come back and get ya.
John: Right. Okay.
Thom: Good stuff!
John: Yeah. The author, do you…?
Thom: No. I can’t remember.
Thom: It’s an anthology. Victorian ghost stories.