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Thom Yorke Discusses His New Solo Album, Flying Lotus, Kid A, and More in New Interview

Thom Yorke is the subject of a new feature in Crack Magazine. The long interview addresses topics from throughout the Radiohead singer’s near-30-year career. Yorke begins by discussing the process behind writing the two new classical works he premiered at the “Minimalist Dream House” concert in Paris earlier this year, and marveling over how the scores he had written using “probability and arpeggiators” had been turned into something that sounded like “a piece by Schumann or Ravel” by dual pianists Katia and Marielle Labèque. Yorke also discussed his Suspiria soundtrack of last year and his upcoming, untitled solo album. He recalled how watching Flying Lotus’ live performances influenced his process on the new record:

[W]e watched him with his live set-up performing all his loops and thought, ‘Well that’s interesting,’ because it’s a live performance, he’s improvising. We suddenly realised this is a new way to write stuff. I would send [Nigel Godrich] completely unfinished, sprawling tracks and he would focus in on the bits and pieces that he thought would work, build them up into samples and loops, and then throw them back at me, where I would start writing vocals.

Later in the interview, Yorke explained how former Sex Pistols singer and PiL bandleader John Lydon has influenced his approach to stage performance—his erratic style of dancing, in particular. “The thing I’ve always loved about watching John Lydon is the way he would revel in those moments where you’re like, ‘Fuck,’” Yorke said. “…In the music is something really, really dark, so I’m not going to stand here and be really dark, I’m going to move.”

Yorke also recalled how many fans Radiohead lost after the release of Kid A, and remembered the band’s reaction to a review in Melody Maker eviscerating the album:

I only read a couple lines of it and was like, ‘Phwoar, that’s fucking harsh.’ I do remember the rest of the band sitting in the dressing room before we went on at one of the first tent shows in Newport in the pissing rain, and they were white as a sheet going, ‘We’ve been absolutely trashed, we’ve been destroyed by blah blah blah.’ But at the same time, for me, there was a sense of, ‘Great. Bring it on!’ We went on stage and even though I was a bit like, ‘What the hell,’ because honestly I didn’t expect such an extreme reaction, we were also like, ‘Come on then, fucking come on then!’ There was a sense of a fight to convince people, which was actually really exciting.

Yorke explained that he’s been thinking about the band during the Kid A and Amnesiac recently, and going over old artifacts like faxes between him and the band’s primary artist Stanley Donwood (which he called “hilarious”). Here’s Yorke:

We were all a bit mad by the end of that period. We went through the whole crazy OK Computer period and I became catatonic at the end of it. Then we worked really hard for a year and a half with really not that many breaks and it was really intense. We didn’t know what the fuck we were doing, and I was refusing to rehearse anything!

The singer also discussed how his personal anxiety has affected and inspired the dystopian images he uses in his songwriting, his personal and moral issues with flying, the political apathy of his generation (who left “losers” in charge like “Thatcher and Blair”), and his hatred of Theresa May. “We’ll look back in 10 years and see how our current Prime Minister, more than any other PM ever, spent her entire time trying to circumvent the sovereignty of Parliament,” he said.

Read the full interview here.