Thom Yorke is notoriously difficult to interview. It’s not that he’s a dick in the Lou Reed sense, it’s just that he has a reputation for dodging questions, giving vague retorts, or answering in such an opaque and oftentimes meandering manner that his response winds up answering everything besides the original question. So Dazed & Confused took a different tack for their “Uni of Yorke” Q&A series: Instead of some rock-critic stranger poking and prodding at the usually guarded Radiohead frontman, Yorke’s respected musician friends asked the questions. The result? The most candid answers good ol’ Thom has ever given.
So far, Flying Lotus, Gaslamp Killer, FaltyDL, and Caribou — plus more to be rolled out in the future — leveled one query apiece at the Atoms for Peace singer, with subjects ranging from writer’s block to his favorite female singer (P.J. Harvey wins that one because White Chalk changed Yorke’s life). And more…
Nigel Godrich isn’t Thom’s favorite producer. Ooh, burn? In response to the question from Gaslamp Killer, Yorke said: “I would still say old Richard D James. He burns a heavy shadow.” He continues: “Aphex [Twin] opened up another world that didn’t involve my fucking electric guitar, and I was just so jealous of that whole crew. They were off on their own planet. I hated all the music that was around Radiohead at the time, it was completely fucking meaningless. I hated the Britpop thing and what was happening in America, but Aphex was totally beautiful, and he’s kind of my age too. He’s a massive influence.”
“Pyramid Song” came from a museum. For a question Flying Lotus apparently asks a lot, Thom explained the provenance of Amnesiac‘s dream-like ballad: “We were in Copenhagen, we just started recording the first session after OK Computer, and we were all deeply dysfunctional, especially me.” Yorke said. “And there was an exhibition, they had a whole Egyptian section where they went on about religious beliefs and stuff, and they had these figures in these little boats ready to go wherever it is they were going to go. We were having a really shitty session, but we got in the morning afterwards, sat down, played these chords and I just said, ‘That’s nice,’ made a note of it and then wrote words, and it was very quick. We recorded the drumming a few months later, and it sounded like something from a Charlie Mingus record.”
The whole interview is a must-read for Radiohead/Atoms for Peace/Thom fans, so check out Dazed Digital for the full transcript.