This morning, Thom Yorke joined everyone’s favorite stressful-to-listen-to interview podcast, WTF With Marc Maron to talk about -- well, everything, as Maron’s style of interviewing tends to be pretty freewheeling. Questions ranged from insightful stuff about Yorke’s boyhood interest in politics to “The second album was The Bends?” It actually makes for a more interesting listen than a conversation with a Radiohead superfan might: How often does Thom Yorke have hour-long interviews with someone who doesn’t give a shit that he’s Thom Yorke? Maron is interested throughout the conversation, but asks a lot of questions that, we suspect, Thom Yorke hasn’t been asked in a very long time -- if ever. Here are some of the things that we learned about Thom Yorke from his sit-down with Marc Maron.
1. He has a weird sense of humor.
Yorke describes the sort of humor -- in a political context -- that he thinks is brilliant. “There was this whole period in Britain where it suddenly dawned on a lot of people who were involved in protesting the way that they wanted it to,” Yorke tells Maron, “Because every time they went anywhere, they just got the shit kicked out of them by the police.” He then recounts the “massive influence” that a stunt-based movement called Reclaim The Streets had on him -- describing a protest where the demonstrators presented an impromptu parade on a motorway they were protesting. “They had this giant figure with a giant a skirt, and a girl on the top waving her arms about. Underneath the skirt were guys with jackhammers chopping the motorway up. It was genius.”
2. He’s been fucking with you for a long time.
“As an artist, you have a problem with expectation,” Maron suggests to Yorke, who agrees. “One of the things I really enjoy is kind of messing with people’s heads a bit,” he laughs. “You do one thing, and then you’re like, ‘Okay, this is really gonna fuck ‘em up!’
3. His favorite bands growing up were Queen, R.E.M., Siousxie and the Banshees, Joy Division, and Bob Dylan.
4. He’s very polite to his host.
Maron says some weird stuff, as he’s wont to do, and poor Thom just kind of goes with it. After Yorke describes Siousxie as “really sexy and absolutely terrifying,” Maron blurts, “That’s the best kind of woman!” Yorke sounds shocked at first -- “It is?” and then just goes with it (“Actually, you’re right”).
5. “Creep” just kind of blew up without any effort from the band at all.
Yorke got a phone call explaining that “Creep” was a massive hit in Israel and Los Angeles, and they suddenly had to go on tour and fulfill big expectations. “Everyone sort of expected us to be rock stars, and we were like, “….k?’”
6. He doesn’t know if The Bends is a masterpiece.
Maron declares that it is, and Yorke demures. “I don’t know,” he says. “I haven’t heard it in quite a while.”
7. The Atoms For Peace record wasn’t hard to make.
“Every record you make is hard, and if it isn’t, you’re in serious trouble,” he says. “Although actually, this Atoms for Peace record was not that hard.” Not exactly an endorsement there.
8. He misses writing hooks.
“I keep thinking maybe I should come up with a chorus,” he says. “I do actually like songs with choruses.” Keep holding out hope, Pablo Honey fans!
9.The sharp dividing line in Radiohead’s career that is Kid A is less sharp for Yorke.
“It was one of those things where it was like, ‘Do we really just carry on like this?’” He tells Maron of the decision to put down the guitars. But he also says that Kid A isn’t really that different, in terms of its songs, from OK Computer. “Kid A in the end, to me -- you can see why they’re not so far apart, OK Computer and Kid A. It’s just that we were choosing to use certain instruments that lots of people associated with things that were... ‘unworthy,’ or whatever."
10.The reviews of Kid A kind of hurt his feelings. He brings up those “Thom Yorke’s discovered Aphex Twin” jabs even 13 years later, anyway.
11. He hit puberty at 11!
And then went to an all-boys school. When Maron declares that it made him who he is, Yorke gets very uncomfortable and English about it. “Let’s not pursue that, shall we?”
12. He and Flea decided to be in a band together because Flea was nuts for The Eraser.
“I kind of knew [the Red Hot Chili Peppers],” he says. “And Nigel and I went to see them in London, and John and Flea were going on about The Eraser. And I was quite surprised, because they listened to it a lot, and they were asking ‘How did you piece it together?’ and they were really into it.” And thus a supergroup was formed.