Radiohead are reissuing their 1997 classic OK Computer next month in honor of its 20th anniversary, and they’ve even deigned to speak about it in the new issue of Rolling Stone. The full story is here, and you really should read it all because it’s a treasure trove for hardcore Radiohead fans. In the meantime, from one obsessive fan’s perspective, here are the most interesting quotes.
1. Yorke to his younger self: “Lighten the fuck up.”
2. Yorke talking about being haunted while recording the album at Jane Seymour’s mansion, St. Catherine’s Court:
“Ghosts would talk to me while I was asleep,” he says, with a curious hint of amusement. “There was one point where I got up in the morning after a night of hearing voices and decided I had to cut my hair.” He attempted to give himself a spontaneous crew cut with “the little scissors on a penknife.” It didn’t go well. “I cut myself a few times. It got messy. I came downstairs and everyone was like, ‘Uh, are you all right?’ I was like, ‘What’s wrong?’ Phil very gently took me downstairs and shaved it all off.”
3. Jonny Greenwood on the band’s disdain for Britpop, a movement they were often unwillingly lumped into: “To us, Britpop was just a 1960s revival. It just leads to pastiche. It’s you wishing it was another era. But as soon as you go down that route, you might as well be a Dixieland jazz band, really.”
4. Greenwood on the band also disdaining the classic prog-rock so many listeners heard echoing through OK Computer: “The problem with prog stuff is it sounds like it really has been thought about. And it’s exhausting as a result. All those records were very pastoral, and they’re preaching about unicorns and dinosaurs.”
5. Greenwood on road-testing OK Computer songs while opening for Alanis Morissette: “My main memory of that tour is playing interminable hand-organ solos to an audience full of quietly despairing teenage girls.”
6. Yorke on the effects of being born with his left eye shut: “There’s a pervading sense of loneliness I’ve had since the day I was born. Maybe a lot of other people feel the same way, but I’m not about to run up and down the street asking everybody if they’re as lonely as I am.”
7. Phil Selway on the band’s buttoned-up image: “The image of Radiohead on the road is a monastery on wheels. For the most part, it was.”
8. Yorke on his notorious inability to handle media attention: “I did have fun sometimes. But the public side of it, and the way people talked to me, even on the street, I could not fucking handle it. David Bowie was able to use these personas that would fuck with his relationship with the fans. He did it all in a very finessed, elegant way. I did not.”
9. Ed O’Brien on taking care of Yorke during the OK Computer tour: “Personally speaking, and to my own suffering, I spent a lot of time looking out for Thom. It was all about making sure he was able to get through the gig. I had to be there for him like a brother.”
10. O’Brien on recording A Moon Shaped Pool while Yorke’s ex-wife Rachel Owen was dying of cancer: “We weren’t in a position to really talk about it when it came out. We didn’t want to talk about it being quite hard to make. We were quite fragile, and we needed to find our feet… I don’t want to talk about it anymore, if that’s all right. I feel like the dust hasn’t settled. It was a hard time.”
11. Yorke on the prospect of recording as a live rock band again: “I’ve always been extreme about resisting us being a drum-guitar-bass band. But if that’s what people want to try, I’m too old to be standing there with a hammer and saying, ‘We must do this, we must do that!’ I would like everyone to feel free. But, you know, it’s not easy.”
OK Computer: OKNOTOK 1997-2017 is out 6/23. Pre-order it here.