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Radiohead Considered Working With Dr. Dre on Kid A

Radiohead are on the cover of this month’s Rolling Stone, marking the 20th anniversary of their great third album OK Computer. The story deals mostly with that album, but the magazine’s wide-ranging interviews with all five members of the band yielded material that covers their entire storied career. Today, the magazine published a supplement to the cover profile filled with anecdotes that didn’t make the main story. The juiciest of these, by far, is that the band briefly considered bringing Dr. Dre into the studio to work on Kid A, OK Computer’s monumental followup.

“I kept on saying, ‘Oh I’d love to work with Dr. Dre.’ I knew it would likely be shouted down or laughed at. Also, it might have been be a little bit forced,” guitarist Ed O’Brien said. “But at the time, in my head, it made perfect sense. The problem would have been finding modus operandi because Dre obviously works in a certain way. Could he have handled a rock band? Who knows? But it came from being a fan of N.W.A and his productions around that time.”

Considering the band’s experiments with drum machines, synths, and samples on Kid A, the pairing makes a bizarre kind of sense. But still, the idea of Dre-assisted takes on “Idioteque” and “The National Anthem” is completely insane to think about. G-funk glissandos instead of Jonny Greenwood’s Ondes Martenot on “How to Disappear Completely”? Syrupy vocoder instead of the broken-calculator robot voice on the title track? Would it be good? Horrible? The funkiest and most futuristic piece of music since Mothership Connection? Sadly, fans will just have to settle for imagining.

There’s plenty of other good stuff in the piece, especially O’Brien’s  revelation that he’d like to see Radiohead continuing to tour into old age, namechecking Leonard Cohen and the Dead as signposts for longevity. “You see that joy Leonard Cohen got,” he said. “You see it with the Dead or Neil Young when he goes off with Crazy Horse. Everybody would like to see Pink Floyd do it. If we were to do it, it would have to be authentic. It might be like the Rolling Stones. It might be like Leonard Cohen or the Grateful Dead.” Read the whole thing at Rolling Stone.