12 things you never knew about… RADIOHEAD
To celebrate the physical release of ‘In Rainbows’, the much lauded new album from Radiohead that was deployed last year in an innovative display of modern marketing, Clash was inundated with obsessive fans keen to impart their self gleaned knowledge to our pages.
After much rooting through bins and pretending to study pigeons on Johnny’s rafters our crack team of stalkers turned up the following tits bits of fact and rumour on the notoriously timid grumps…
1. The number 1426148550 appears on the cover of Radiohead’s ‘Airbag’ EP. This was actually the number of Thom’s old pager. Fans dialed a zero and the number and it was answered with a pre-recorded ‘Hello?’ which was indeed Thom’s voice. Radiohead apparently listened to the messages that were left but had no plans to do anything with the recordings.
2. The lead vocal take of ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ was recorded immediately after the band had seen Jeff Buckley playing upstairs at The Garage in London. Thom went straight to the studio after the concert, recorded the take, then broke down in tears.
3. The first time Radiohead’s producers heard ‘Creep’ in the studio Thom mumbled apologetically under his peroxide mop afterwards “that’s our Scott Walker song”. As a result they mistakenly thought ‘Creep’ was a Scott Walker cover and wrote it off as a possible first single. As they left the studio that night one of the producers remarked “too bad their best song is a cover”. It was only when they asked Radiohead to play the Scott Walker song again some time later to try and boost the band’s morale was the misunderstanding cleared up.
4. No one has ever been told by the band what the lone man tells the rest of the crowd in the video ‘Just’ that forces them all to lie down on the floor hopelessly next to him.
5. Lots of people believe the physicist Stephen Hawking was the voice of ‘Fitter Happier’ on ‘OK Computer’. It’s actually a voice Thom managed to create on his Mac when he was pissed one night. According to band member Ed: “By the computer saying it, it doesn’t become a bit of pretentious art-wank, it’s something neutral in the way that the computer stumbles over words and doesn’t get the pronunciation or the inflections right.” Thom was also famously drunk when he recorded the vocals of ‘Planet Telex’; he recorded the whole song lying on the floor.
6. Thom Yorke’s younger brother Andy fronted the band The Unbelievable Truth in the late ’90s. They split up after the reasonably successful album ‘Almost Here’ and one relative flop. But he is now back on the music scene playing gigs in Oxford and due to release a solo album early next year.
7. There is some hint that Radiohead might be playing Glastonbury 2008 if, the band said, “they want us”. Glastonbury 1997 was chosen as the moment Colin and Thom would most like to relive again despite the lights and PAs blowing up. Thom went so far as to say in the ‘Meeting People Is Easy’ documentary that “everything after Glastonbury (1997) was a disappointment”.
8. The average amount paid for Radiohead’s most recent album, ‘In Rainbows’, for which fans could choose their own price, was £2.90. Only 38% of downloaders were willing to pay anything, with the majority paying nothing. 1.2 million people visited the ‘In Rainbows’ website in October 2007.
9. Now who said Thom takes himself too seriously? In a relatively unknown Radiohead song ‘Lift’ - a song played mostly on tour in the late ’90s and originally planned to be a single from ‘OK Computer’ - the lyrics include: “You’ve been stuck in a lift/We’ve been trying to reach you Thom” finishing with “so lighten up squirt”. What’s more, after once trashing Phil Selway’s drum kit in rock moodiness, Thom apologized – and took Selway’s family out for tea.
10. According to Thom the only reason he started a band with Colin was because of their shared weird taste in outfits when they were younger. “We always ended up at the same parties. He’d be wearing a beret and a catsuit, or something pretty fucking weird and I’d be in a frilly blouse and crushed velvet dinner suit and we’d pass round the Joy Division records”.
11. One of the biggest musical influences on Thom while Radiohead were recording ‘The Bends’ was John Lennon’s side project The Plastic Ono Band. Radiohead’s producer John Leckie had been working as a tape operator at Abbey Road when Lennon had recorded for Plastic Ono and he introduced them to the album. Thom said of the album “Lyrically I really love that album because it makes you feel really uncomfortable”.
12. Radiohead were originally called On A Friday.
WIN A RADIOHEAD BOX SET
Do YOU know any other sizzling bits of trivia on rock’s recalcitrant millionaires? Share them with the world at www.ClashMusic.com/forum the best entries will win one of five ‘In Rainbows’ box sets.