Radiohead are providing a treat for anyone curious about the recording
process: Their guitarist is keeping an online diary of the sessions for
the British art-rock band's next album, expected to be released in May
In the diary's record of the sessions for the follow-up to 1997's OK
Computer, Ed O'Brien expresses elation when lead singer Thom Yorke
plays a song the diarist thinks sounds "great." But he gets frustrated
at a later session, saying the band is "essentially in limbo," when what
he considers unproductive talk gets in the way of music-making.
"A f---ing brilliant rehearsal," O'Brien exults at another point. "It's
great to be in our band."
The tentative plans for issuing the album, which the band began working
on in February, are noted on the band's official website (www.radiohead.com),
along with guitarist O'Brien's running diary of life in the studio. His
commentary is laced with as much profanity as insight.
A representative of the band's U.S. label, Capitol Records, said no
official release date for the still-untitled album has been set. A
spokesperson for the band refused to comment on the subject, other than
to defer to the website.
O'Brien started posting his diary July 22, reflecting on the band's
rehearsals for the album. Over the last few months, he listed working
song titles, such as "Optimistic," "Lost at Sea/In Limbo," "How to
Disappear," "Neil Young *9," "You and Whose Army?," "Cuttooth," "Up on
the Ladder" and "Say the Word."
He began the diary optimistically and humorously:
"Thom arrives & plays a new song on the acoustic. Sounds great but has
no name, so now on referred to as the song with no name. We move on to
'Lost at Sea/In Limbo' after only nine months work it's starting to sound
like it's getting somewhere. Good in fact. The others sound O.K., too ...
highlight of the day is attempting 3-part harmonies on 'Neil Young *9'
not the harmonies themselves, but [drummer] Phil [Selway] cracking
up because he feels a bit like that drummer from the Eagles."
As slower, less productive days come, frustration creeps into O'Brien's
reflections: "Yesterday or rather today (the 4th) there was very little
played but a lot of talk. The problem we have found is that we are
essentially in limbo for the first time in our time we have nothing
to get ready for."
In the diary, O'Brien indicates the band is working free of deadlines
from Capitol, which the label representative acknowledged, saying the
record will come out when it's finished, whenever that occurs.
The most recent diary entry was posted Sept. 9. "Last diary piece for a
couple of weeks. How was it for you?" he writes. "I'm finding it a little
difficult to set the right tone, but as I'm not a journo I guess that's
fair enough. Hopefully this is going to be an ongoing thing throughout
recording and maybe even touring, so it will get better."
Radiohead, including Yorke, O'Brien, Selway, guitarist Jonny Greenwood
and bassist Colin Greenwood, are known for their atmospheric guitar and
keyboard work and for lyrics that often touch on dark subjects, including
murder and depression. OK Computer won raves for its themes of
alienation and paranoia and for its complex arrangements on songs
such as "Airbag" (RealAudio
excerpt) and "Paranoid Android" (RealAudio
Max Kolombos, the webmaster of Planet Telex, a Radiohead fan website
(www.underworld.net/radiohead), said through an e-mail that he expects
the new album to shine, now that the pressure caused by the success of
OK Computer has vanished.
"I think the band have had to have time to recover from everything that
came attached to OK Computer," he wrote. "They are just normal,
modest, humble English folk who prefer going down [to] the pub and a game of
bridge to 10-hour photo shoots and foreign interviews."