Thom Yorke Talks Forming Radiohead, Recording “No Surprises” & “Paranoid Android” In “First Time” Interview

Ahead of Radiohead’s headlining performance at the UK’s Glastonbury festival next week, Thom Yorke sat down with Matt Everitt to talk musical firsts on BBC 6 Music 6’s The First Time. As Pitchfork reports, in addition to formative experience watching concerts Siouxsie and the Banshees and New Order — “They slagged everybody off and stormed off. It was like, ‘OK, that’s how not to do it,'” Yorke says of the latter — he discusses forming Radiohead after being asked if Colin Greenwood was the first member he met:

I went on this weird recruitment drive, in my own head. I’d heard that he’d joined this band that I’d left. And I felt really sorry for him, because he was playing bass but he only had a really short lead. So I put him down on the list. And I knew his brother was this big genius, but a bit younger. And I’d heard there was this really great drummer, bit older. Was trying to find out who he was. And Ed [O’Brien] was walking around like he was in the Smiths, so obviously he was gonna join…

Later on, Yorke talks about recording the OK Computer classics “No Surprises” and “Paranoid Android,” which are both about to be re-released on the upcoming OKNOTOK reissue.

For “No Surprises,” Yorke wanted the band “to sound like we’d all taken Mogadon. We tried to play it as slow as we could, but it was never slow enough, because we weren’t on Mogadon. So what we did was, we took an earlier version and just slowed it right down…It always gets this huge reaction, the ‘bring down the government bit.’ People just start yelling spontaneously. It’s great. I don’t know why. It’s such an unpunk song [to] have released this weird anger.”

On the subject of the reissue, Yorke also reveals that he wrote “30 or 40″ different versions of “Paranoid Android” with only minor differences between them. “What I found really fascinating was going through my notebooks at the time, and making friends with whoever this nut was,” he says, laughing. “Oh my god…think I’m bad now? Just pages of like, ‘seriously mate, you need to take a break.’”

OKNOTOK is out 6/23 in box set, vinyl, CD, and digital formats.