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“Hail To The Thief not our strongest record”

Phil Selway was interviewed for Dublin magazine Analogue and Ed was a guest on Canadian radio show ‘Strombo‘. In both interviews the drummer and guitarist say they weren’t fully satisfied with their previous record, Hail To The Thief.

Ed told Stromb: “On this record we collectively suffered f rom a huge lack of self-confidence. It wasn’t happening together for a while. That didn’t really happen on ‘Hail To The Thief’, but it happened on every other record. I would consider ‘Hail To The Thief’ possibly not one of our strongest records.”

On ‘In Rainbows’, Radiohead had a different way of recording and releasing their 2003 album ‘Hail To The Thief”.

Phil to Analogue: “The biggest difference really was the length of time it has taken. Hail To Thief was a relatively quick record to make, and this one has taken a lot longer. I think with any of our records, a part of what drives it along is a bit of a reaction to the record that’s gone before. With hindsight, I mean, there’s a lot of good things about Hail To The Thief, from our point of view, but there are also elements that we’ve come away thinking “wish we’d done that differently”, or spent a bit more time on that. So you act on those impulses on the next record you make.”

On the extra CD that came with ‘In Rainbows’, the band have learned from ‘Hail to the Thief’ as well.

Phil: “I think the difficulty came in realising that we’re not going to get everything onto the record. We kind of felt like we put everything on Hail To The Thief, and we didn’t want to do that again. So I think once we got to the point where we’d decided that we want to make a ten-track record, then you actually select the ten tracks that sit well together.”

You did a couple of covers (for the Radiohead.tv webcast), The Headmaster Ritual [by The Smiths] and Ceremony [by New Order] I think, how did you decide which to do?

Phil: “Yeah, our Manchester section really, wasn’t it? It’s funny because when we were at school, we never really played covers. It’s something that we’ve not done an awful lot of either, at any point. We’ve always kind of worked on original material. So to come back at this point and just go in and work on these songs which we’ve all really loved at some point and seeing if we can pull them off… we enjoyed doing those versions of them.”

Read the full interview at the Analogue site, in which Phil answers (or actually doesn’t) the high ticket prices discussion, XL vs. EMI, Thom vs. Bono and of course more on ‘In Rainbows. The interview is available as a pdf file.

41 Comments

  • I lovvvve Hail to the Thief, even more than Amnesiac.

  • I love HTTT too, even more than In Rainbows…
    There There is maybe one of my top 5 songs to see live. I think A punchup, 2+2=5, sail to the moon, i will are all better than even the best song on IR.

  • Blah. I know it’s just opinions but I think you’re wrong. In Rainbows is a superior album to Hail to the Thief. Don’t get me wrong, Hail is great but In Rainbows is more carefully considered. Who cares really though, it’s all great.

  • httt sucked

  • Well, I love HTTT, no matter what.

  • For some reason HTTT is my favourite album! I don’t know why but I jsut love the mix between guitar and piano songs.. Although I love and cherish the rest of their work this album was the one that suited me most….

  • I just think every song on hail to the thief is incredible. On their other albums there always seems to be at least one song that I don;t appreciate. Hmm but with that said I have to be in a certain mood to really enjoy it. but but but man! httt = best.

  • hail to the belief-action nexus.

  • Everything Radiohead makes is gold, but I personally aore Hail To The Theif. It’s remarkable and beautiful. Sit Down Stand Up anyone? GODLY.

  • HTTT is my favourite Radiohead record.

  • is anyone else having trouble with the analogue page loading?

  • Yes, me.

  • Yeah the page doesn’t seem to be working for me either.

  • hail to the theif DOES kind of suck.
    very unremarkable. i listented to it
    maybe twice and never again hardly.

  • Put me in the ‘Hail to the Thief’ rules camp. It reminds me of The White Album a bit–no cohesion, kind of messy, so many different styles of music, but still a masterpiece. The only song that I think brings the album down is ‘We Suck Young Blood.’ I still appreciate it for what it is, but I think it would have been better off as a b-side. If they had put ‘Gagging Order’ on instead it would be a perfect album. Hail is better than In Rainbows I think, and it’s probably my third favorite Radiohead album after Kid A and OK Computer.

  • I love HTTT, as well. The intro to Scatterbrain is my ringtone.

  • This Analogue review, it has a picture of Radiohead and on that picture Jonny is smiling… Or is that someone else? I mean, I’ve never seen Jonny smile… That’s odd.

    Oh, and Phil’s “response” concerning the price of the tickets is… interesting :-)

  • HTTF is OK, but the songs played live are FANTASTIC

  • Still love that album.

  • And I also think that the tickets are ridiculously overpriced. From downloads alone they made more han they would have by releasing the album normally. THEN they charge a huge amound for the discbox. THEN they bring out the album in the shops, which im sure many people bought so that they could have a hard copy. So this has made a fortune for radiohead. So what do they then do… they increase their ticket price by 20. Seems needdless to me.

  • needless*

  • I agree, HTTT is awful!

  • TRIPPIN Phil.I like HTTT as much as In Rainbows…

  • Hail to the Thief is probably my favourite Radiohead album. And I’ve been a fan since the beginning.
    I do understand their sentiment when they say that they wish they’d done some things differently. But that’s only natural when you record an album in 2 weeks. However, it’s not how much time you’ve spend on an album that’s important, but the result. And the result is the phenomenal record that will stay with me forever.
    I wish the bandmembers stopped dismissing it as “not our strongest”. What the hell do they know anyway? They’re not the ones ceaselessly listening to it and loving every note, every lyric, every second of it.

  • theyre right, httt was way too long and it contained some songs on the verge of mediocre

    it’s great that they learned from their mistakes

  • HTTT suffered from having too many tracks. They through in the B-sides, too. The best ten from HTTT easily hang with Rainbows.

    There, There? Wolf? Punch-up? Go to Sleep?
    Some of their best ever.

  • The tracklist and album length is a little dodgy, but other than that it is what it is – a GOOD record in amongst amazing ones.

    I would definitely boot Sail To The Moon off the record for a start. And not have 2+2=5 followed by SDSU to open the record as they are too similar with the buildups.

    Aside from PH I find it more of a chore to listen to HTTT than any other. Just a few edits would have made it a lot better.

  • I would agree that HTTT is “not their best record”. That’s a good way to put it. I like everything on it but it’s by far the record I’m least ecstatic about…excepting Pablo Honey of course, which I don’t even acknowledge.

  • Hail to the Thief is utterly brilliant. It remains one of my favorite RH records. I have to respectfully disagree with Phil.

  • That’s something Ed had already said once. In 2003, when they did Ray Cox’ “music planet 2nite” on Arte. On the 1st or 2nd interview sequence he says: “we haven’t done a great 6th record” (or something close)…

  • HTTT is weak overall.

    the tracks alone are all strong.

    thats why it becomes weak overall.

    i have to comepletely agree.

  • Sit Down Stand up is HORRIBLE…not original or interesting at ALL.

    Same with The Gloaming and Where I End and You Begin……

    These songs are BAD, by any band’s standards. They’re like someone parodying Radiohead. BAD BAD BAD BAD.

  • I would never say the album isn’t good just inconsistent, there are some great tracks and some duff ones. Punch-Up and 2+2 are great but I’ve never been a fan of Go to Sleep or The Gloaming

  • HTTT suffers from too many songs and a lack of cohesion. There are just too many areas where songs don’t connect and it drags the album down. I never understood why WIEAYB, We Suck Young Blood, and The Gloaming were put next to each other right in the middle of the album. It’s sooo slow that way. So singularly the songs are great, but put them together and it doesn’t work. In Rainbows, however, flows nearly perfectly.

  • I have to agree with Ed and Phil, and I
    think Phil got it exactly right when he
    said that it comes down to choosing
    fewer tracks that go well together. I
    think HTTT has a lot of great songs,
    but it lacks cohesion as an album. We
    Suck Young Blood in particular murders
    the album’s momentum with its placement
    in the dead center of the tracklist.

  • Just like with any and all of Radiohead’s work,each track must be listened to without bias or prejudice. There are many radiohead tracks that i never truly gave a good listen-to at first, but which grew on me, once I allowed them to. Radiohead’s sound can’t always be pigeonholed. just when yout hink you’ve got them down-pat they surprise you completely. They are undefinable…

  • I’ve always thought HTTT was a weak album, probably Radiohead’s weakest (since PH anyway). I’m glad to see that the bandmembers also acknowledge that.

    It’s interesting. ‘lack of self-confidence’ = brilliant album, for RH anyway.

  • HTTT is one of the best radiohead albums. It’s right up there with OK Computer and Kid A.

    Not so sure about In Rainbows. I’m really not that impressed. Looks like the band have finally lost their instinct and ingenuity. The fact that they themselves prefer In Rainbows to HTTT is only a proof of that, unfortunately.

  • HTTT was not as focused as The Bends of OK Computer, but it shure has brilliant tracks on it. But In Rainbows is their best since OK Computer from my point of view.

  • I think musically Hail To the Theif was
    spectacular – the skill in their
    soundscapes is supurb.

    However I felt since the album did
    have a political side, I believe, the band
    had to put more focus on thier own
    beliefs – solutions to the current
    poilitical climate and corruption.

    The lyrics were catharic, and immense
    in imagery and emotion. However I would
    have liked the band to take the
    opportunity to show their politcal
    knowledge of the landscape.

    I would have liked to have
    seen an album locked onto George Bush
    or Tony Blair, rather than going off
    on an tangent based on
    symbolism were the listener is supposed
    to try and guess or understand what
    the lyrics are really meaning.

    Though Radiohead is of course known
    for its very “out there” lyrics, I
    still felt that this was a good opportunity
    lost.

    I didn’t want there to be so much
    politics in there that you couldn’t
    enjoy it – I just think there could
    have been some real good agruements aimed
    at the chest.

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