The Independent publishes an interview with Thom Yorke today (January 3), earlier published in Der Spiegel, where he talks about new album ‘In Rainbows’ and the inevitable questions on Radiohead’s ‘pay-what-you-want’ model and how it saved rock music. “I’ve heard it said that we are saving rock music so often over the past few weeks that I’m going to have it printed on toilet paper soon.”
Q: Nevertheless, there is fierce speculation that you might be earning a lot less with your new work than with the help of a large company. Was your experiment worth it, financially?
Yorke: We don’t discuss figures. But we are not complaining. Anyway, we have the copyright for our songs. All that we published before belongs to EMI. That is unbelievably unsatisfying. After all, we are talking about art and hard work. I believe in the rock album as an artistic form of expression.
In Rainbows is a conscious return to this form of 45-minute statement. Of course, it was possible to make it shorter. But our aim was to describe in 45 minutes, as coherently and conclusively as possible, what moves us. In Rainbows is, at least in our opinion, our classic album – our Transformer, our Revolver, our Hunky Dory.
Q: Lou Reed, The Beatles and David Bowie were at the height of their creative powers when they recorded those albums. What ambition drives a highly successful band like Radiohead, that’s existed for 16 years, to work?
Yorke: In previous years, there were times when we didn’t know the answer to that question. We started families, brought up our children and everybody was just living their own lives. But then one day it just got us again. You’re stuck in traffic on a Friday, the kids are wailing in the back, the supermarket shopping is boiling in the boot, it’s summer, the weekend of the Glastonbury Festival. A radio station airs a listeners’ poll, asking which band the people associate with their best Glastonbury memories, and 76 per cent are voting for Radiohead. Suddenly things shoot through your mind: what am I doing here? Wouldn’t I prefer to be on stage there? Even my family would be happier if I didn’t hang out at home, all grumpy, any more. Yes, that’s how it was.
Q: What was the highest price that a buyer paid online to download In Rainbows?
Yorke: £99.99. That’s the limit we had set beforehand.
Q: And how many buyers were willing to pay that much?
Yorke: Until now, 15. And I swear the band members are not among that 15.
Read the full interview in The Independent today or check it online.