By Jazz Monroe.
Radiohead have revisited the OK Computer era in a new oral history ahead of their forthcoming OKNOTOK reissue. The in-depth Rolling Stone article sees the band—as well as Nigel Godrich, Michael Stipe, Alanis Morissette, and others in their orbit—reflecting on the time period leading up to and surrounding the album's release in 1997. There's a track-by-track analysis of the making of the LP, discussions of the band's tours with R.E.M. and Morissette, and even a reckoning with "Creep," which Yorke admits was "like a pass that allowed us to do whatever the f*** we wanted for a few years."
Yorke also discusses the “low point” of the era: When he blew off a planned visit to R.E.M.’s New York studio without telling Stipe, who had invited him, or Godrich, who was mixing their LP. In the end, Godrich and Stipe searched for Yorke at the airport, before finding out he’d turned around and gone home.
At one point, Yorke and Godrich reflect on Radiohead’s influence on a swath of groups who appeared to take cues from the band. When the interviewer mentions the period when “groups like Travis and Coldplay began hitting the scene,” Yorke says:
Oh, did they? [His voice dripping with sarcasm] They're still there, aren't they? I was really f***ed off about that because they were doing that and they'd deny it. It's one thing to say, "We're influenced by this." But then were doing it and slagging us off. That wasn't cool. [Note: To be clear, Yorke didn't reference a single specific group.]
Something would come on the radio and he'd look at me funny and I'd be like, "What are you so upset about?" He'd be huffing and puffing like someone copied him. I'd say, "You're just imagining it. Look, it's a guitar with some drums behind it. You didn't invent that. You were copying someone else. Just relax." I think that's a byproduct of being so focused on what he wanted to do that he figures he's the only person that's ever had that idea. [As far the Travis comparisons] I just think that's lazy journalism. It's a guy singing in falsetto with an acoustic guitar. But if that's what made him go away and do something different, at least it lead to more interesting times.
This big flashing neon light over my head went off that said, "Meanwhile in the rest of the f***ing universe, this is happening." And I started blindly buying all this staff from Warp records and inevitably getting into Aphex Twin and all this stuff and wanting to buy synthesizers.
Earlier this month, Radiohead released a video for the studio version of “I Promise,” 21 years after it was recorded. Two more studio recordings, of “Man of War” and “Lift,” await release, having been unearthed from the OK Computer tapes. In March, Pitchfork celebrated the 20th anniversary of OK Computer with a series of features. Revisit them here.
This story originally appeared on Pitchfork.
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