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Thom Yorke: ‘In Rainbows’ is our classic album

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.

26 Comments

  • Thom can hang out all grumpy at my home.

  • i remember some company claiming to have paid a thousand bucks for the album. egg’s on their face now.

  • i LOVE radiohead, they never fail to just be amazing, even in interviews.

  • that sounds pretty unfair to his family?

  • thom’s in such good spirits these days, it’s awesome. he takes himself less seriously now and it makes interviews with him that much more entertaining to read.

    and ghostbear, i don’t see how thom is being unfair to his family. by all accounts, all the guys in radiohead are very conscientious of their fatherly duties. i mean, it took them over 4 years to release another album…i’m pretty sure there was a lot of daddy time in there. and this is his JOB, which supports his family…but at heart he’s still an artist and a creator…can you really blame him for trying to balance those instincts with his family obligations?

  • “You’re stuck in traffic ON A FRIDAY’ .. talk about getting that initial spark..

  • Agreed Jens. AGREED.

  • i do not want to start a fight, but when will these journalists acknowledge that trent reznor (nine inch nails) had the idea of releasing music on the internet and being free from record labels before radiohead did it? sure he didn’t do it first, but thats not my point.

    its just a bit strange how trent was all over the place when he said that, and now everyone forgot about him and radiohead are like the ones that came up with this idea before anyone else (though there were many artists before all this happened releasing music like this already, but they were not huge so nobody cared).

    so there. now i’ll shut it.

  • btw, i love radiohead btw. and i’m sure that was talked about lots before. so sorry about that. but somehow i had to say it.

  • No-one’s crediting Radiohead with coming up with the idea, and I’d bet that Reznor didn’t come up with it, either. I think a lot of the fuss came from the fact that such a highly-anticipated album as “In Rainbows” was sprung upon us so suddenly. People– myself included– just got a bit excited.

  • Er, Jamie, many small bands sell their stuff on the internet themselves, and some even have variable pricing. But a band of Radiohead’s stature to do it with variable pricing was a first.

    And Thom, darling: your hunky dory still is Ok Computer…

  • well, £99,99 is about 1000 bucks (us dollars)…

  • I love that he said In Rainbows is their Hunky Dory, not OKC. Damn right!

  • trent reznor is a fat goth. who cares what he said or did? no disrespect to any fat goths that may be reading this. with the exception of trent reznor.

  • [...] joancarlson wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt… 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’m sorry, I LOVE Radiohead, but it’s absolutely laughable that Radiohead will ever make an album as highly regarded as OK Computer ever again. OK Computer hit at the perfect time in society, just as computers and the internet really started to kick off in our homes, and it was scary, and frightening. That, and how absolutely amazing it was, is what made it classic. In Rainbows is a great album, but it will not be a classic album simply because they’ve already had their classic album, if that makes any sense.

  • 99 pounds is not even close to 1000 bucks, its only $196 but it is very very generous.

  • haha yeah i was gonna say what will said. i hope you were joking though. that’s pretty much common knowledge.

  • I am very pleased to hear that Radiohead feel that way about In Rainbows. They should be proud of this amazing record they have made and enjoy their success to the fullest! They are comfortable enough to handle this now. Ten years ago they were not.

    Barrett: you think that In Rainbows won’t be classic because they already had their classic album with OK Computer?! Au contraire! Revolver, for example, was a true classic. But so were Sgt Pepper, and Abbey Road, among others.

  • Radiohead’s classic = Kid A

  • Free chair in solid shape, Me planning 2 or 3 days then i am giving this place to someone that may also use it. In case you it may well check out my place within a couple of days, shoot me a message. Early person to make contact with me takes it home, thanks

  • Great job. Good article I must say.

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  • Did Trent Reznor spend $5,000 on Radiohead’s ‘In Rainbows’?…

    However in an interview with The Independent, there is a relevant question -> Q: What was the highest price that a buyer paid online to download In Rainbows? Thom Yorke: £99.99. That’s the limit we had set beforehand. How could it be that Reznor paid $…

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