Radiohead are on the cover of the new issue of Rolling Stone. The band talk about The King Of Limbs, touring and the new songs.
Rolling Stone’s David Fricke interviewed the band at last year’s NYC Roseland Ballroom shows and the opening of their World Tour in Miami, but also in London and hometown Oxford.
In the interview Thom Yorke describes new song Identikit, which debuted in Miami, as “joyful, slow but with a wonky hip-hop beat. That one wormed its way to the head of the class.” Colin Greenwood is excited about another new one, the still unplayed “Full Stop,” particularly the part “where Thom’s voice jacks up into this amazing falsetto. The song just takes off.”
On recording The King Of Limbs, Jonny Greendwood said: “The brick walls we tended to hit were when we knew something was great, like ‘Bloom,’ but not finished. We knew the song was nearly something. Then Colin had that bass line, and Thom started singing. Those things suddenly made it a hundred times better. The other stuff was just waiting for the right thing.”
“They are unlike any other band in the studio,” says Godrich, who has worked on every album since OK Computer. “They could not record ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ because they don’t have the attention span. If it’s not happening straightaway, Thom gets confused. That’s not his way.”
Godrich cites one classic Radiohead song that was never finished in the studio, “True Love Waits,” a popular concert ballad: “We tried to record it countless times, but it never worked. The irony is you have that shitty live version [on the 2001 mini-album, I Might Be Wrong]. To Thom’s credit, he needs to feel a song has validation, that it has a reason to exist as a recording. We could do ‘True Love waits’ and make it sound like John Mayer. Nobody wants to do that.”
Radiohead did not support The King Of Limbs with an extensive tour last year for two reasons. one: “We thought it might not be playable,” Jonny says. The other “was partly my fault,” Yorke acknowledges. The album “released such a load of weird possibilities.” He wanted to go right back into the studio, then decided against “carrying on in the same vein. We couldn’t do that, we couldn’t play live: ‘Aw, shit, now what?’”
Clive Deamer, 51, a veteran jazz and dance-music drummer who has also worked with Robert Plant, was the answer. “I’ve loved his drumming for ages,” Phil Selway says. “He seemed like the natural person to go to.” In early 2011, the two started dissecting the new songs and deciding which of the many drum parts they could feasibly perform live. A year later, Selway is on the phone from Oxford after Radiohead’s final day of tour rehearsals there: “Everything is wide open,” the drummer declares in an ecstatic version of his soft, gentlemanly voice. “Seeing that dynamic between the six of us bearing fruit – we have started something. A lot of bands at this stage don’t get that opportunity. Or they miss it when it’s there.”
“You hear it all the time,” says Ed O’Brien. “These bands say, ‘We’re in the best phase of our lives,’ and they don’t make very good music. I’m reluctant to say that. It’s not our best phase. It’s another one – and it’s a good one. It doesn’t feel like a new band. it feels like a band that knows itself.”