For WNYC, Alec Baldwin interviewed Thom Yorke. The full interview on Here’s The Thing is now online as well as a transcript.
Here are some highlights:
Alec Baldwin: You don’t do a lot of press, or you do it on an as-needed basis.
Thom Yorke: Yeah, on a need-to-know basis. Yeah, yeah kind of. I kind of need to explain what I’m doing a bit with the Atoms for Peace thing, just a little bit because it’s something different, and some vague effort to explain myself, occasionally I think, is morally acceptable.
About getting ready for live shows: “I stand on my head for a bit and basically I’m completely on my own until five minutes before we go on, and then we’re all in a room together pacing up and down like wild animals and then we’re on.
But when we first started doing big shows, it was with my friend Michael Stipe and he does the total opposite. He literally – he’ll be talking to you and then someone taps him on the shoulder and then they’re on. I was like, “How the hell do you do that, man?” And I tried to do it like that, couldn’t do it. So I ended up going”
On forming Radiohead:
Thom Yorke: And then when I was 16, I was thinking, “Well Ok, I need to get this together, really,” and just went around the school sort of choosing people.
Alec Baldwin: So you went around picking people.
Thom Yorke: I got Ed [O'Brien] because he was dressed like Morrissey and he had some cool socks, and I saw he had a guitar. I had no idea whether he could play or not. I didn’t really care.
I got Colin [Greenwood] because I knew Colin could play very well and I needed a bass player who could play very well, but he’d never played bass before.
And his brother Jonny was this mythical musical prodigy, so I roped him in, and then Phil [Selway] was the only drummer we knew anyway, so – and he had a house down the road that we could rehearse in.
Alec Baldwin: Do your children know who you are and what you do?
Thom Yorke: Yep. They’re used to it. They’re used to people coming up and saying hello, but most of the time it’s very friendly and that’s normal. That’s their normal. That’s what they’ve grown up with.
Thom Yorke: I don’t hang out with people because they are who they are necessarily, unless I’m a big admirer of them. Like I mean, I stalked Ed Norton for ages until eventually he gave in.
Alec Baldwin: Why?
Thom Yorke: Because I’m a big admirer of him. I think he’s brilliant. So I hang out with him a bit occasionally. And Flea, I’ve always really admired Flea anyway, so even before it became an issue of sort of playing with him.
Alec Baldwin: How does success make you feel?
Thom Yorke: How does it make me feel?
Alec Baldwin: Radiohead means something. Your name means something.
Thom Yorke: Which I think is – well how does it make me feel? It’s always been a little bit far away from me. And the only time it sort of makes sense is when we play in front of people, you know. The rest of the time it’s like well, it’s just – it’s who I’ve been for so long, I can’t tell you because it’s just – that’s what it is.
And I think I’ve probably been doing it more than I haven’t in my life, in terms of years, in terms of time. So it’s – most of the time I don’t really notice and people come up and they go, “Oh that’s nice. Thanks very much.”
It’s not like I’m not grateful, it’s just I just don’t notice. And then sometimes something will whack you over the head and you’ll go blimey. Things like doing – the first time we did Saturday Night Live, for example and you go really? People give a shit? Because sometimes you can’t tell. You don’t know. You don’t know. You got –
Alec Baldwin: You’re not taken for granted.
Thom Yorke: Because you’re on the inside. You can’t see it. And also you’ve spent so long running away from it. I don’t feel like I’ve run away from it now, because there’s nowhere to run.