Breakfast with Ed O'Brien
Thursday, March 19th 2009
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Interviewer: Italo Rossi.
Documented by: Marcos Lares.
Italo: Okay, sure. So how did you find the South American crowd so far? I mean, you just played Mexico...
Italo: I mean, there was a lot of singing along... like...
Ed: Big voices! Yeah.
Italo: People actually say that, you know—in contrast to France or the United States—people don’t tend to sing along much, and there was a big debate over the AtEase forum because they were like being quiet was some sort of respect to the band. How do you feel about it? I mean...
Ed: I just think you do whatever you do, you know? In America it tends to be... we have a wonderful audience, people stood up instead of singing along, they listen. Yeah, and a lot of people have phones. [Laughs.]
Italo: Yeah. [Laughs.]
Ed: But in South America, it’s great because the gig, the show, is representative of traits...
Ed: ... you know. I’m aware of—having come down here before—and been to Brazil and knowing lots of South Americans—that singing and showing your love...
Ed: ... and your joy is a big part of, you know, the culture.
Ed: In America and the West, and say, you know, the UK, it isn’t so much that. I have to say, the Scottish are amazing...
Ed: ... singers as well. And they sing... When we played in Scotland last year, Friday night, it was the wickedest—it was cold, it was the middle of the summer, the rain was pouring down—they sung their hearts out.
Ed: So I mean, you know... Either the South Americans are honoring the Scots, or the Scots are honoring the South Americans.
Italo: [Laughs.] Yeah.
Ed: So it’s... I don’t mind... I-I-I--It’s... all I want is for people to be themselves.
Ed: And it’s the memories and experience what uh, you know? That for us is-- how the people respond.
Italo: Other than the Scots do you have any other favourite crowds around here?
Ed: Uh... uh... Nnnnnot really, as a matter of fact. I don’t think it’s about favourite things, you know. It’s all, you know...
Thom: What’s up?
Italo: Hi, Thom! What’s up?
Thom: Hi. How are you? How are you doing?
Italo: I’m from Peru. This is Marcos from Paraguay.
Marcos: How are you doing? I’m from Paraguay.
Thom: Good morning.
Marcos: Hi. How are you?
Thom: How are you?  Nice to know that!
Ed: Yeah! Um... it’s just, you know... It’s-it’s—there should be no favourites.
Ed: It’s like it’s...
Italo: So when it comes down to planning down the tour, who decides where you guys play? I mean...
Ed: Our agents.
Italo: What... your agents?
Ed: Basically, you know, we all... Well, what happens is the agent gets a list of the tour possibilities  and then they’re thrown back to us and we decide whether we can do it or not.
Italo: Okay. So, I mean... talking specifically about South America. Did you just get a list of, you know, like, the four big markets and... You know, because Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and Costa Rica--these are places where you have, like, a real big following--didn’t get a chance this time around.
Italo: I mean, is there anyone to blame... [Laughs] or something?
Ed: Well... I don’t know if there’s anyone to blame. We never got to, you know... we never got any... we never got anything through--as far as I’m concerned--in Peru. We couldn’t go to Colombia.
Ed: And I’d love to go Colombia, but we couldn’t get insured in Colombia...
Ed: ... you know, and I’d love to go to Colombia. I’d love to go and play in Cartagena, or Santa Marta...
Ed. ... you know, or Bogotá. That would be amazing. I’d love to go come to Perú. But I think sometimes the nature of, you know... it’ll be a case of uhm... there’s a promoter, whether you can put on the show—whether, you know... unfortunately, it’s a big show now...
Ed: ... so you can’t suddenly move to, like, something indoors for 5,000... you kind of... So it’s just one of those things.
Ed: I mean, you know, don’t ever rule us out coming to Perú because, you know, part of what we do is... we want to try and, you know... hopefully this band will have a long life.
Italo: Yes, that’s what everyone thinks. I mean, all the people say, like, ‘this tour is the only South American tour that there will ever be’, but I mean, there’s, of course, a chance that you will come back in, you know, a couple of years maybe.
Ed: I don’t know how people can say that. I mean, we don’t know.
Italo: You don’t know... that’s right!
Ed: I mean, it’s nice. I don’t think, it’s people... To me that reflects people being sad that we aren’t coming to play in those countries.
Ed: and that’s... that’s not... that’s not right, you know? I mean, I understand the disappointment...
Ed: ... and I really understand the disappointment, but um, you know, that’s life sometimes. It doesn’t mean we won’t come, you know.
Ed:  I mean, and when we... you know...
Italo: There’s currently rumours that you guys might be playing Poland, and the Reading and Leeds festivals over the summer. And there was also a Portuguese festival...
Italo: ... coming ahead. Any word on that? I mean, is there anything already shaped up?
Ed: Not yet. Nothing’s confirmed, but there are possibly some places in the summer, yeah.
Italo: Will it be, like, a small-scale tour to air new songs? Is it part of the In Rainbows tour?
Ed: Um... If we go out it will be the finale of the In Rainbows tour.
Ed: I think one thing that we felt, is that in the UK--when we played in the UK--we played in the middle of the summer—so you couldn’t see the light show.
Ed: So it was really disappointing for everyone. And so it would be nice to have a—to be able to do something in the UK that was like right in that sketch.
Italo: Uh-huh. Will it be like indoors venues or big festival-type thing?
Ed: Uh... don’t know.
Italo: You don’t know yet?
Italo: Okay. And you guys have been going to the studio lately? I saw a recent interview over in Mexico...
Italo: ... with the Brazilian guy, and then you told--during the Featured Artist Coalition meeting--that...
Italo: ... you guys were coming in and out of the studio lately. Maybe you were going to release a couple of songs online.
Ed: Yeah, we...
Italo: What’s the next thing?
Ed: Yeah, there’s been studio time. Not much, but I think we’ve got... one thing is that Nigel’s out with us.
Ed: He’s on this tour. So we’re going to discuss how we’re going to proceed.
Italo: Okay. So it’s not clear yet?
Italo: Any particular songs you’re working? There’s been a lot of new stuff in the soundchecks last year...
Italo: There was a new song soundchecked in Mexico, I guess.
Ed: Yeah. That’s right. There was. Yeah... we rehearsed that. We’ve rehearsed that. We did some recording—this was back in October—um, and... who knows what will come out... we did some at our own studio, and some in London at Nigel’s studio.
Ed: So it’s one of those things. We just thought we’d do it.
Italo: Uh-huh. Just for the sake of doing it.
Ed: Yeah. Not be judgmental. It was one of those songs that... You know, with us it takes a long... with us... Who knows? We wanted to just... I don’t know...
Italo: It’s always the uncertainty in Radiohead world, I guess.
Ed: That’s right! Which is great. I mean, that’s what keeps you on your toes.
Italo: Yeah. Well, you keep us fans speculating all the time. It’s pretty entertaining, but it’s kind of a bit frustrating, you know? The whole In Rainbows process where you guys were like giving us tiny bits and pieces and then, out of nowhere, a picture, you know, of you guys jamming out in the studio, and then Jonny posts a message ‘the album is ready. It’s coming out.’ 
Ed: Well it’s kind of... It’s an important thing to do. I think it’s important not to spoon feed you guys. I mean, it’s not... our website, It’s not that, you know, it’s not a news... It’s not like a corporate, you know, update. It’s, like, it comes from us. And sometimes we write, and sometimes when things aren’t going well it’s hard to write.
Ed: And sometimes when things are going well, it’s hard to write because you don’t want to lose that moment.
Italo: Yes. Exactly. Um, let’s see. You have any plans on doing some sightseeing around South America? I mean, have you been around here? Rio?
Italo: Any chance of, you know, sightseeing in Argentina or Chile... or maybe visting other countries?
Ed: Um, yeah, definitely! I mean, you know... yeah, very much so. I mean, I love this country very much. Beautiful. I mean, personally speaking, my wife and me and my family, we... My wife’s family... her mother’s from Guyana.
Ed: So, she’s traveled a lot. I mean, she traveled a lot when she was--to Ecuador, Peru, um... Bolivia—when she was a—you know, back in the nineties. And then seven years ago she went back to... She studied at the Institute of Latin American Studies. She did a master’s in it, and uh, she went to Bolivia...
Ed:  What we want to do is we want to bring our children there, and my dream—this is my dream—is to drive from Mexico--from the border with America—right down to the tip of Tierra del Fuego...
Italo: In Argentina.
Ed: ... you know, Argentina, and drive through Bolivia, Peru. I am not just saying this.
Marcos: And Paraguay too?
Ed: Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile. I’m kind of... I really want to go to Peru and see the Andes. I want to go up to Machu Picchu. And I know I want to go up to the Andes in Peru, and... yes, and... But we’ve got two small children, so we’ve just got to work it out when we get there.
Ed: But we’re staying... My family are flying in at the end of the tour. They’re flying off to Bahia. We’re having a holiday in Bahia.
Italo: Okay. So you guys are rejoining the studio, like, after this? I mean, when... Do you have programmed any sessions, like, in May... April, May, or anything?
Ed: Um—we’ve got to... yeah, that’s what we’re going to talk about and that’s what I said about Nigel being on tour with us.
Italo: Okay. So, uh, there’s some sort of tendency between Radiohead fans to prefer actually not the big hits, you know, like “Creep” and “Karma Police”.
Italo: And they’d rather see, like, “Let Down”, or “Subterranean Homesick Alien”, or even b-sides like “Pearly*” or “Polyethelyne”...
Italo: ... and even, yes, “You”, and “Blow Out” and stuff.
Ed: Yeah, we played “Blow Out” in Japan.
Italo: Yes. Any chance of having more Pablo Honey songs down in South America? Have you even rehearsed them?
Ed: No, not Pablo Honey.
Italo: Not Pablo Honey, just... not at all. [Laughs.] People had a feeling that, you know, that you might just like... rejoin with Pablo Honey after, you know, so many years.
Ed: Not really. It’s like... It’s fun—I mean, “Blow Out” is fun to play.
Ed: We played “Blow Out”. Yeah, it was really good. That’s a good idea. Yeah, we played “Blow Out”. We played it in Japan and it was great fun. The others... You know, in a band, you know, we sort of liked them at the time but it’s quite hard to do those songs. We wanted to do You but it sounds to us... it just sounds dated.
Italo: Yes, I know. When you look at how much you’ve evolved as a band, it’s like stuff that’s left behind probably...
Ed: Yeah. “Let Down”, we played that two and a half years ago...
Ed: you know...
Ed: They’re quite kind of hard songs to play. It needs... “Let Down” is one of those songs that you need to play every day. You need to be in a zone. When we were doing OK Computer doing that song it was one thing, now it’s hard to pick it up. It’s really, really hard. “Subterranean...” I mean, the thing is--in this tour... we’ve been “Planet Telex”... we haven’t played that for years.
Ed: There are songs...
Italo: And there’s a great version already... more powerful than what’s on the record.
Ed: And we’ve been playing songs, you know... The main thing on this tour is to play stuff from In Rainbows.
Italo: Yes. Absolutely.
Ed: So we’ve been playing all of the songs every night. Um, and then, you know... I mean, next time we go out we might not play “Idioteque”. It’s very hard not to play. But you see we’re coming here for the first time, so we’re playing songs that people... You know, you guys are an extreme case... you’re hard core fans, so you’re very knowledgeable.
Ed: Most people are not like you. They’re fans but they’re not like... 
Ed: These people have never heard us play “Idioteque”. They’ve never heard us play “Street Spirit”.
Italo: Sure. At the same time, they’ve never heard you play stuff like “High and Dry”, which I personally don’t like much, but there’s people doing their dream setlists with stuff like “High and Dry”, and “Stop Whispering”, and “Sulk”... You know, all those old singles. There’s a lot of people expecting to see those songs, you know?
Ed: Well, that’s tough in a way.
Ed: I mean, you know, we’re not a jukebox.
Italo: Yeah, exactly.
Ed: We play what we wanna play.
Italo: Uh-huh. That’s what I tell them. I mean, it’s exciting that you guys can completely change a setlist overnight, I mean, and just repeat, like, half the songs.
Ed: That’s what we do, and that’s kind of, you know, that’s really important for us. You know, our setlists have never been the same. I mean...
Italo: People were following live, you know, Mexico night one...
Italo: They were, like, ‘Oh my God, this is just like Lollapalooza’, and they were, like...
Thom: [Laughs hard]
Italo: ...the first 10-11 songs...
Ed: Really? [Laughs.]
Italo: ... they were like that, and then they’re like ‘Okay, there goes “Lucky” and “Reckoner”. Oh, they just switched it up’, and then came, you know, like, different stuff.
Italo: Yeah, people were, like, ‘oh my God, this band lost all their integrity!’ and they just need to chill out, I guess.
Ed: Yeah, you said it. I mean, you know... You know... Sometimes, what I have to say is, it’s really-it’s really lovely that people are really, really into what we do.
Ed: But other times... We’re just fucking human beings.
Ed: I mean this is what we do. We’re not like... We’re not masters of the universe.
Ed: We are human beings. And, you know, you’ve got to remember that.
Ed: And we’re a band, you know.
Italo: And you’ve got families and other priorities.
Ed: Yeah. You know, you put these people, you put this thing, this band up on this pedestal and, you know... What you guys see, is just a band who are, you know, quite strong. What you forget as well is the very nature of this band is very fragile as well. You don’t see that. You don’t see that in the studio. You guys don’t see that, so, you know, it’s... I think people forget that. But I would say the message is I’m really thankful to people are really into what we do, but you have to let us breathe, you have to give us the space. We have to let us be human.
Italo: Yeah, sure.
Ed: You have to let us fuck up. You have to let us disappoint you.
Ed: You know, that’s right: we’re not superheroes.
Italo: Yeah, of course! And um, what else? About that, I mean—and understanding that you are, after all, human... [laughs.] ... like they say—how do you manage to, you know, stick together for nearly twenty five years now, you know, since the band started?
Ed: We love one another. We’re brothers, you know? We’re a family.
Italo: That’s great.
Ed: I mean, even if we disbanded tomorrow, I would still consider them to be my brothers.
Ed: I mean, there’d be no bad blood.
Ed: It’s like, you know, it’s a family. We’ve been going... It’s not easy.
Italo: Uh-huh. Well, nothing in life is, I guess.
Ed: Absolutely! You nailed it there...
Italo: So, about the Grammy performance: what made the decision, you know, to be just Thom and Jonny and the marching band and...
Ed: I think it’s just to do something different, really, to do something , to do something different with “15 Step” and it didn’t suit a full band set up, so... you know? It kind of, it was really effective, and... One of the things about this band is that, you know, we try different things, and it’s not... things are not sacrosanct.
Italo: Yes. Yeah, great. So any chance to see some more b-sides live. You recently played “Talk Show Host”, but there’s also, you know, “Down is the New Up”, which has been asked for ages. You’ve already played, like more than fifty shows this tour [laughs.] “Down is the New Up” is,I mean, it was only soundchecked like once, and it hasn’t been seen for like... and well, “Go Slowly” and “Bangers ‘n Mash”...
Italo: But, I mean, specifically about “Down is the New Up”: Is it hard to nail it live lately?
Ed: Yeah, there’s... Yeah, it’s kind of, you know... We played it quite a lot two and a half years ago on that tour.
Ed: But we were playing theatres. We were playing theatres. We were playing indoors.
Ed: When you play bigger venues some songs get lost and stuff like that. And it’s really important when you’re building a set, there’s a thread running through it, and it’s really important not to lose people.
Ed: And putting a song like that is very, very difficult.
Italo: And is there any old song that, you know, you’d like to play and have suggested it for rehearsal list and that the band has said ‘no’ or anything? I mean, is there any song...
Ed: I’m sure, you know, what we did is, when we drew up the list for the tour, there were sixty songs.
Italo: Sixty songs?
Ed: Yeah. Including “Down is the New Up”. Um, yeah, I mean, of course there are, but in terms of specifically what stuff, uh, you know... I mean, we joked at the beginning of the tour. We said, uh... you know, because it’s always good to keep people guessing--so it’s like ‘oh, what haven’t we played for a while? Oh, we haven’t played “High and Dry” for a while. How about “High and Dry”?’
Ed: Yeah, so... You know, that might... It’s like, you look at artists that have long... careers, they often...
Italo: ... repeat themselves.
Ed: Yeah. And they often, you know, put something up 15 or 20 years slater ‘cause it makes sense.
Ed: So I mean we’re very lucky in that regard, I guess.
Italo: You haven’t played much, like, “2+2=5”, or “I Might Be Wrong” or “Knives Out” much. I mean they’ve been seen like a couple of times in the last tour. Are they, like, not working on that set lately or is there any particular reason?
Ed: No, they’re fine. It’s the... It’s, uh, knowing when to play it.
Italo: Okay. So it just really depends on your overall mood that day or something.
Ed: Totally. And it depends on where we’re playing, and it depends what we’re doing, you know. We’ve done a lot of festivals, so it’s... But you know, the thing about when we do a festival—and these are festivals... I mean, the one...the show in Argentina is a festival...
Ed: ... the show in Chile is a festival--the thing that you must do is grab people’s, keep people’s attention. I mean, they’re slightly different. Festivals in the UK there are lots of different stages going on.
Ed: And the idea is that you don’t want people to... you know, they might not be Radiohead fans like you, and you don’t want them to leave; you want them to stay. So the idea is to grab on to them.
Italo: Oh! But actually these festivals in Chile and Argentina are actually, like, are in separate dates, so it’s, like, you’re actually just, in Chile, playing with Kraftwerk.
Italo: And in Argentina, the same...
Italo: ... and with a local band and that’s it.
Ed: Yeah, that’s right.
Italo: So it’s like, definitely, most people—probably more than 90%--are going there for you.
Italo: So it’s actually more like... [Laughs.] Don’t think it’s, like, uh, a festival scene... I mean, you start to play...
Ed: No, no, no. No, I know. I’m just going to grab some cereal.
Italo: Yeah, yeah. Don’t worry. We’ll wait.
[ Pause - brief conversation between Italo and Marcos ]
Ed: Sorry guys...
Italo: No, don't worry, it's okay. We have plenty of time.
Italo: So, um, more about the songwriting process: usually most songs... I mean, what we understand is that most songs come up from original ideas from Thom...
Italo: ... and...
Ed: ... and sometimes Thom and Jonny.
Italo: Thom and Jonny? Cool.
Italo: So, um, is there any... you know, you said you have several songs...
Italo: ...of your own that you might put into a solo record. The same happens with Phil I guess.
Italo: I mean, why have... I mean, have you suggested any of your songs at some point? I understand stuff like "Lull" is from you?
Ed: Yeah, yeah, that's right.
Italo: “Meeting in The Aisle”, too?
Ed: Uh... yeah... I mean, it’s... And what?
Italo: “Meeting in the Aisle”?
Ed: Um, and what?
Italo: “Meeting in The Aisle”.
Ed: “Meeting in The Aisle”, yeah.
Ed: Yeah. Yeah, now... I mean, it's a kind of a tricky one, because when you've got somebody who writes songs as good as Thom...
Ed: ... you kind of don't... I mean, I'm kind of one of those people who goes, "Oh, it's not necessary, it's not as good," but, I'm kind of... Yeah! My idea is--and I think when we're going to record next, and what we're going to do is--I want to bring more ideas to the table, I've got more ideas! And, I was just down in New Zealand with Phil, we were doing Seven Worlds Collide, and that was great... and, you know, the songs...
Italo: Did you suggest a song of your own for that, or just Phil?
Ed: Yeah! Two.
Italo: Two songs of your own...
Ed: Yeah, but they were sorts of, they were chords, and stuff like that. And, and one other song, I'm really proud of, because I, basically I had the melodies and the chords written, but I needed to arrange it, and I needed... I didn't have a vocal melody and I... I basically sat down with Johnny Marr, who is a big...
Ed: ...he's like my older brother, and I said, ‘Johnny, I've got this thing’, and he said ‘Oh really?’ And, Johnny's such an amazing arranger, he'd go: ‘Yeah, that bit: start with that bit, try that bit there’. And then he came up with the... he did a complementary guitar part, and it was sounding amazing, and then Neil Finn came and did a vocal, had a vocal idea, and his son Liam--Liam Finn--did the chorus bit, and it's just like ‘Fuck! This is great...!’
Italo: Is it coming on the album you're releasing?
Ed: Yeah. Yeah.
Italo: What's it... what's it called?
Ed: It's called “Learning to Fall”.
Italo: Learning to Fall.
Italo: Great. And Phil's song...
Ed: No, it's called “Learn to Fall”... “Learn to Fall”.
Italo: And Phil's song, is it coming out too?
Italo: What's it called, "Family Madness", or? It might not be...
Ed: I think it's called "The Ties that Bind Us"...
Italo: “The Ties that Bind Us”.
Ed: ...or "Family Madness".
Italo: Something like that, yeah! It appears on like the...
Ed: Yeah... yes.
Italo: So, how do you guys decide, you know--having so many guitars and effects pedals and software to back you up--how do you, you know, come across doing, like, certain sounds, doing certain arrangements for a song? I mean, do you actually, do you have an idea beforehand to include something: do you know your stuff real well to do it, or do you just start jamming around with, you know, toying with your pedals and software and stuff?
Ed: Usually it can be anything. You can either work out the melody or a part, or, the thing happens in the moment, you know, the sound happens, you know, you do... For instance, the end of “Arpeggi” I always remember, we were having trouble with “Arpeggi”, and we were like... We kind of did it in sections. Thom was... We had the drum outro, for the out section, and Thom had the vocal melody. Thom was actually singing it, and it was kind of just relaxed. And I had a sound, and I just sort of started... I was just playing along.
Ed: And it was, suddenly, ‘Ah’. You know, those kind of... that's the sound that worked, that's the sound we needed. So, you know, it just depends on the... It's all different, you know.
Ed: Stuff comes up... some, some stuff needs lots of preparation, lots of work. Other stuff just comes up like that.
Italo: Yeah, because, you're mainly responsible for all those space-like sounds in Radiohead, you know, all those swishing noises that makes... a lot of people say, that's what makes Radiohead great other than the songwriting itself," you know...
Italo: ... and you're pretty much responsible for it, so I was curious about, you know, how do you manage to do them? And, particularly in "15 Step", your part is radically different from anything you've done before that.
Italo: The synthesizer thing...
Italo: ... I mean, who came up with that, or...?
Ed: That was me... that was while we were putting the song together. And, it was in its very early stages, and we had a... the drum part--the initial drum part--Jonny and I... Jonny had got it on his AS machine, and I processed it, so we had this cracking drum track that we really loved. Then... Jonny came up with, Jonny came up with some chords, Thom came up with the vocal melody, and... I'd done, what I'd done is, we got an autoharp--you know what I’m talking about?—that kind of, like, they used to use it in country-western, you press a key...
Ed: ... and, and you strum it in chords.
Ed: And I had done this... What happened was that I... I had been recording with a friend of mine for two night sessions, with this flamenco guitarist friend of mine called Raphael Lloyd, and this singer Lola, because I played guitar with him -- he was teaching me flamenco. And, I really wanted to do a track with him. And I did this thing where I had the harp and I put it through my pedals and I sampled it, and then delayed it. And it was just like, ‘Wow, this sounds great, it doesn't sound like anything else!’ And so all we did, literally what we did with it: I remember I went and I did the session with him in our studio and I went in the next day we had off and I said, "Graeme, can we", who was the engineer at the time, "can we just, with the chords of the song, let's just get four bits of the chords, five chords, in maybe two inute things and then two minute sections...
Ed: ... all recorded then, and did the same thing on different tracks. And then...
Italo: Onto the sampler thing...
Ed: Not onto the sampler, it was on the desk....
Ed: ... like, literally on the Pro Tools, and it was just like: ‘that sounds good’. Then, ‘boom boom boom’. Thom liked it and stuff. I think that's when we did sort of an arrangement, and it sounded... it was great! I mean, that stuff was...
Italo: So, there was a lot of toying around with the sounds as you are in the studio.
Ed: Yeah, and I mean, I think, you know--like you said--I mean for me, those big sounds are like... I've always loved sounds which make you feel small.
Ed: You know, to me, sounds like... one of the reasons I love “Arpeggi” is that I, I've always liked music that places you geographically in a place...
Ed: ... and... if you know what I mean. And I love things like images. For me, “Arpeggi” is--when Thom wrote the song--it was something like, for me, you know, ‘In the deepest ocean,’ That there. And I love that whole thing, you know, it's like scuba diving, and you're down there, in there with everything. And, it, I mean, you're a human being and you feel so tiny!
Italo: Like you're in the middle of the sea.
Ed: Yeah... in the middle of... that’s what it must be like in the middle of the Andes... and towering... I love those moments! And I love the large... the epic scale of nature.
Ed: And, I love that thing with the idea of the universe... we're just tiny!
Ed: I mean, that's the part, where I can get to in my music, where I like music, and where I like to come from. But, sometimes it gets hard because I've always loved that, so I try to do it different. But I'm kind of... I love that stuff, you know... I love that! It’s in my... it's the stuff that moves me. The stuff that makes my... you know, when Thom sings ‘In the deepest ocean’, and... then you can [sighs] conjure up images and find sounds.
Ed: It's like... this is... you know, we still play that, and I'm still getting a buzz off that stuff.
Italo: And also, on the live set, you know, like the whole light arrangement, it's like: it looks like an ocean line, and it's like a little wave moving. And, it's all blue.
Italo: And that helps a lot, I guess!
Ed: Yeah, yeah!
Italo: It's crazy! The lights you have recently are like completely nuts! I've seen the videos, I mean, I haven't seen the show...
Waiter: Sorry to interrupt, we’re about to close the buffet... would you care for something else?
Ed: I'm just fine, I'll probably grab another bowl of corn flakes.
Waiter: Shall I get it for you?
Ed: Yeah... Maybe, though, I don't think this is soya. Thank you.
Italo: To me, the light show that you just got is crazy. I mean, is it Andy doing it? Yeah?
Italo: It's great...
Ed: I mean, he's been with us since ninety-four -- he's amazing. This is the best thing that he's done.
Italo: Yeah, absolutely!
Ed: And, it's also...
Italo: And you're getting clean energy as well!
Ed: Absolutely! it's great to give somebody a remit and say: ‘listen, we want a low energy rig, come up with what you...’ And, that would have never come up if we'd been using... if we hadn't said ‘So listen, we want you to use a low energy rig.’
Ed: Yeah, so...
Italo: Great! I especially love, you know, what you do in “Planet Telex”, in the end, with all the rainbow colors and stuff! It's great... it's amazing really.
Ed: It is. It is.
Italo: I mean, I haven't seen the show yet, I mean... my first show will be for Rio. He went to Mexico...
Italo: ...both shows. He said lots of crazy people were pushing around. He was, like, right in front of you, and then two minutes later he was like on the side of the crowd.
Italo: And then, he went back, and people were like a huge wave.
Ed: Was it fun out there? Was it nice? Nice people?
Marcos: Yes. It was incredible.
Ed: Lovely... lovely people!
Marcos: Very Good.
Ed: Yeah. Yeah.
Italo: So, I mean... What else? Let’s see... Any chance we might see you or Phil singing, lead vocals... I mean...
Italo: I know you have a lot of respect for Thom as a composer...
Italo: ... and as a performer...
Italo: ... but, there's, like, legendary bands, you know, like um, Pixies, or the Beatles...
Italo: ...or Sonic Youth...
Italo: ... switching between vocalists.
Ed: Yeah, I think we're going to do that.
Italo: You're going to do it?
Ed: I think it would be really cool to do it. I think it’d be really... and I think Thom would really enjoy that as well.
Ed: Um... yeah.
Italo: People were surprised when they saw Phil singing, you know?
Italo: Because, they say, ‘He's a real good singer!’...
Italo: ... and his song was, you know, like, real nice. It sounds a lot like “Follow Me Around”...
Italo: ... that's what people say.
Ed: Well, okay... that's interesting. [Laughs.]
Italo: Yeah, I mean, and talking about that song, is there any chance, you know-- maybe your fans ask this all the time, I mean--to see, again, stuff like “Follow Me Around” or “Big Boots”, or “Lift”?
Ed: We rehearsed... we rehearsed, um... We rehearsed “Follow Me Around”, um... when we were in the studio two weeks ago. We played it.
Italo: Is there any chance you might play it somewhere?
Ed: Um, not on this tour... because it's too rough.
Ed: And also it's not really the place to play new songs.
Ed: But... we will definitely... “Big Boots” is... It's funny, because we... we revisited that... and, it's a great song... it's one of the ones that got away. It's a really... I love that song. To me, that sounds like a James Bond theme.
Italo: Yeah! I love it too... I mean, when I saw you guys in Blackpool--do you remember? We met there after the show.
Italo: When I saw, in the second show, right before you guys played “The Bends”, a guy screamed like, "WHOA, Big Boots!" And Jonny was like, he was like teasing with the main riff, I mean, we went crazy with that. And I mean, that's the kind of thing that keeps it standing. I mean, like, when, also Thom does a couple of lines of “True Love Waits” before “Everything in its Right Place”.
Italo: Or even, he also did “Follow Me Around” before that song. I mean, is there also any chance that, you know, Thom might grab the acoustic guitar and play a solo run of “True Love Waits”?
Ed: Yeah, there's always a chance, absolutely! But the thing is like, what we wanted on this tour, is for him to try and do a track off “The Eraser”.
Italo: “Cymbal Rush”?
Ed: “Cymbal Rush”, that he was doing. It worked out, and it was sounding good. So yeah, I mean...
Italo: Any Jonny songs you've tried to do live? I mean, like “24-Hour Charleston”? Are you familiar with the names of Jonny's songs?
Ed: I'm not familiar with the names!
Italo: You're not familiar with the names...
Italo: It's the one he plays with Colin on bass.
Ed: Right! Yeah...
Italo: That one's real nice, too, I mean, it would be great to see it live. But, you know...
Ed: I'll tell him that!
Italo: Have you heard anything regarding your very, very old songs from the On a Friday days? I mean, there's, I don't know how, some of those songs leaked onto the Internet.
Ed: Oh, I know.
Italo: There's people familiar with this very old song called "Happy Song"...
Ed: Yeah [Laughs hard]
Italo: ...and "To Be a Brilliant Light". I was about to bring these on my iPod but I forgot it. Maybe you would have a laugh with that. But it's definitely you guys playing, it still has the personality there.
Ed: Oh yeah, it's us! But it's very early, it was leaked; basically we had an old friend of ours, Nigel, who we did some 4-track recording with. And there were songs that we did when we were like a band that was a year old. And, he was a friend of ours and he... he put... he had all our stuff on DAT, backed up. And, he was our lighting engineer. He did our lights for us from 92 through to 93. And then he put it all on the internet, which is a bit of a shock!
Italo: He did it?!
Ed: He did it.
Italo: Hahaha that's funny!! There's also a very early tape from 1986, which some guy or girl claimed to have it. Which... where you had, "Fragile Friend".
Ed: Yeah? Really...
Italo: And, she even had a picture of Colin in a suit from like the prom dance or something.
Italo: Yeah, with a rose on his chest and stuff.
Ed: Wow... [Laughs hard]
Italo: Yeah. We don't know where that came from and where it is right now because that person disappeared.
Italo: She just...
Ed: Went undercover?
Italo: Yeah! She had posted a video on YouTube where she just hit “Play” just like two seconds of the song, and she said ‘Oh yeah, this is “Fragile Friend"’. And it was a very distinctive Thom kind of screaming... Any chance, you know, do you have any control over that? Was it ever registered with EMI?
Italo: Not at all... so there might be a chance that maybe in many... many many years to come you will release a box set with lost rarities.
Ed: No, no... not at all
Italo: so you’re not into that kind of thing?
Ed: Because... what you have to understand is that... I mean, I don’t mind it being on the Internet and people hearing it but in terms of... that was a very important period for us, six years, we weren’t getting any bigger, we were getting better, that six-year period we were out of the spotlight, no-one’s hearing what we’re doing, we were literally just doing it for ourselves. So we never released it commercially, and if gets released on the Internet, fine. You know? That’s good. In terms of like... officially backing that, personally speaking I’d be like... that’s not part of... that... you know, that’s not part of the thing. We’re not into that.
Italo: I don’t know if you found out EMI is releasing special editions of your first three albums...
Ed: come again?
Italo: EMI is releasing special editions of Pablo Honey, Ok Computer and The Bends
Italo: yeah... with a bonus CD and bonus DVD.
Ed: You’re fucking kidding! Really?
Italo: Really! You didn’t find out?
Italo: Actually, it’s coming out right now in March 24th and uhm...
Italo: Pablo Honey has bonus tracks including “Nothing Touches Me”
Italo: ...from the BBC sessions.
Italo: Just so you know... they’re scraping the barrel...
Ed: FUCKING ASSHOLES! I mean, I love, you know... it’s not the people at Parlophone, it’s the people upstairs that when... what do you want to do? You bring out, when we leave you get a special edition package and repackage... [to Thom] listen... you know? No, I’ll tell you later...
[conversation between Thom and Ed]
Italo: Hey Thom! Would you mind signing that record for him? Sorry to interrupt but...
Ed & Thom: [Laugh]
Italo: Thank you!
Ed: See you later...
Thom: See you there...
Italo: Enjoy your day, Thom!
Thom: [waves goodbye, short reverence]
Ed: I’m surprised by that... BASTARDS!
Italo: Actually, it’s pretty nice value for money because, you know, it includes a bonus disc with the b-sides from all the singles, and some live sessions, and an extra DVD including performances from the Jools Holland show and uhm... music videos, and the Astoria concert.
Ed: It’s rubbish!
Italo: yeah, but at least... you know, fans are going to buy it and that’s the worst part I guess...
Ed: I think the fans have got most of that, you know, it’s all the stuff up on Youtube. This is just a company who are trying to... squeeze every bit of lost money, it’s not about and artistic statement. It’s not about... you know, they’re not doing it for you fans. All they’re doing is trying to put loads more on it to sell more records to make some money. And it’s disgusting. I think... I mean, you know, I understand that you guys wanna see that stuff but it’s on Youtube you can see that stuff. And you... most of you have got the b-sides. I mean, if you got the back catalogue, it’s like raping a back catalogue, if you do that... there’s nothing left!
Ed: You know, there’s no mystique, there’s no... you know, fans... part of the joy of being a fan of a band is seeking the stuff out. It’s not being spoon-fed, as “oh! you can have it all!”... I... fucking assholes!
Italo: you know, when I found out about that 7-disc box set I was very disappointed because, you know, they were just repacking it in cardboard boxes... it was ridiculous!
Ed: Don’t buy it! There’s not need to buy it, it’s all out there. You got all the songs, it’s all on Youtube.
Italo: All I bought was the “Best Of” DVD because, you know...
Ed: No, that’s good, I agree... to have it all on one DVD.
Italo: Yeah, that was nice. Although it’s missing the video for “Lucky” and a couple of videos from the Kid A time. You know, you didn’t deliberately make videos for that but, there was like... specifically, down in South America we had a video for “Idioteque” from the Air Studios sessions.
Ed: Yeah... that was good!
Italo: I think it was Dilly Gent who did it?
Ed: Dilly did it. That was filmed by Grant Gee...
Italo: Grant Gee... but it’s not the black&white version, it’s a colored version. There’s one appearing on the gigantic lying mouth DVD.
Ed: Air Studios... Air Studios was done by Grant Gee. There might be another one... it was shot in color as well. There might be one from a gig, but the one at the Air Studios was shot by Grant Gee.
Italo: it was Grant Gee doing that one then, ok. Speaking of that, do you remember those... the videos from the tent tour that came next to an interview with Thom for a Dutch reporter or something... were there any plans to ever release that as a live DVD?
Ed: Oh no, there’s quite a bit of that stuff. A lot of live footage over the years, there’s a whole... we filmed a gig in 2003 on the Hail to the Thief tour in Seattle, at this huge... cause obviously we only have one live DVD out... Live at the Astoria... so we thought we ought to document something else, so we did... we had big cameras... all these cameras and had the director... and the gig was appalling, so we never released it. We had spent about 100,000 pounds on shooting it. So... there’s lots of stuff, tons of stuff.
Italo: There’s also uhm... I’m friends with this guy from Germany who also interviewed you last year... Michael...
Ed: Yeah... yeah yeah yeah
Italo: ...and uhm... you told him about maybe the Bonnaroo DVD. What happened to that?
Ed: Well... yeah. That’s a good one. I loved San Francisco from last year. We got the San Francisco gig, both filmed by Danny Clinch. Those kinds of things probably come out quite well.
Italo: Great. So... I mean... when it comes to dealing with the rights of releasing... do you have to negotiate with EMI too because it includes stuff from that time.
Ed: Yes [laughs], and that’s why we’re kind of reluctant to releasing that stuff.
Italo: Do you have any intentions of re-negotiating with EMI? I mean, I understand that they closed themselves to just one idea, to keep control on your back catalogue. Do you feel like re-negotiating that relationship in the future?
Ed: What would be a good idea is to buy that back catalogue off them, so they can’t keep releasing and drawing out you know, they’re obviously not trustworthy.
Italo: And do you know if they own the studio tapes from your... from the time you recorded stuff, maybe, well, didn’t release it, but... do they own the material you recorded at the time?
Ed: They only own the recording, they don’t own the song. So you know, we might re-record songs... and they don’t own those.
Ed: They own the recording.
Italo: The recording... but not the rights to the song.
Italo: Ok. So there was some sort of... well... I mean, ages ago you guys mentioned there was some sort of vault of old songs with a dozen of versions of “True Love Waits”. Who keeps that?
Ed: We’ve got that.
Italo: You have that... like... under seven keys.
Ed: It’s in a vault...
Italo: In a vault... literally in a vault?
Ed: In London. Underneath... in London there are lots of passage ways and vaults and uhm... there’s lots of... and basically they uhm... and tunnels and... so they store things and we got them in storage, keep storage. In fact, Graeme Stewart has been... basically spent about a month converting all our tapes onto hard drives.
Italo: Oh, great!
Ed: I think when he was playing the Ok Computer tape [ ] and it got some sticking...
Italo: Oh, God!
Ed: Cause you know, tape disintegrates. You have to look after it.
Italo: Oh, God! That would be a shame! [Laughs]
Italo: So uhm... any... immediately after this tour you’re going on vacation? You said you’re spending holidays in Brazil, how about the other guys... do you know their plans? What’s going on with them?
Ed: Probably something like that... cause it’s a school holiday, forgot to mention that. Everybody will have a little trip.
Italo: Okay. So... there were rumors about Thom working with Jack White on a song. Do you know if anything happened?
Ed: I don’t think anything’s happened but you know... it could be. Yeah. Or anything... you know... yeah.
Italo: Great... I had like a lot of questions in this flowed by like a natural conversation so let’s see if I’m not missing anything... uhm... do you have any wishes to play places like Eastern Europe, or South-East Asia, I mean... places in Asia other than Japan... or maybe even going to Russia, have you ever thought of those places?
Ed: Yeah, I mean, part of what we’d like to do is maybe every tour play in places where we’ve never been before. That’s important, must be very fun.
Italo: Cause I remember... when the Internet just got huge around the world, one of the first regional fanclubs that appeared was in Poland and there was another one in Singapore and... I think you guys have never been there.
Ed: We haven’t been in Singapore, but we played in Poland.
Italo: You had been in Poland before?
Ed: Yeah, we played in 199............5. A place called . We did and we.... Yeah. And Eastern Europe, we’ve played in ...
Ed: Hungary, and we played... we couldn’t play in Czech Republic. We played in... Yeah, Hungary... Budapest. So yeah, we’ll work our way around that.
Italo: Any chance about Israel? You played there in 2000.
Ed: Yeah, I mean... there’s always a possibility. Yeah.
Italo: That’s cool... nice to see you guys trying that...
Italo: What else... how do you feel about your shows selling out in minutes? The Mexicans did... sold out real quick, Brazil... Sao Paulo is all sold out and the first date in Chile, well, the last show in Chile easily sold out. How does that make you feel? Like... were you aware you had such a big following down here in South America? What made you guys not being able to play here for ages? I mean, I understand that promoters down here proposed it to you ages ago like... I think even back in 2001 even. What made you decide to finally play here after so many years?
Ed: Well, I think... I mean, I’ve been telling everyone for years we need to come to South America and play our music because I think that it’s an extraordinary place to play music. And, the reason being basically... when you draw up a tour... we’re not the band who tours the most, you know? We don’t tour that much. Or, traditionally, we haven’t been since ’97... toured that much. Being the case of people... you know, and also young families, people being away from their families, you know... and I think the other thing is that people genuinely didn't realize what an exceptional place and continent this is and so, you know it was.... yeah, we were aware that there were tours, but I think that they were you know like......we didn't really...I think it was possibly two years ago that we saw the first South American tour possibility...
Ed: And I know that promoters probably submitted stuff, but they never got beyond the management and agents because they didn't think it was appropriate for us at that time...
Ed: Because it.... you know, because of where we were as a band or whatever, and I remember from 2003 until 2007...
Italo: Yeah, you had like a very long break.
Ed: We had all of 2004 off, and restarted in 2005, you know, so we weren't really gigging then, but I guess we could have come in 2006, but you have to kind of... you know, I think what's great, and my feeling on it, is that it's all for a reason. This tour that we're doing is the best that we've ever played, this is the best... you know, we've got the best album... I think we've got the best album to tour that we've ever made. I'm not saying it’s the best album, I think it's one of the best albums, but in terms of playing, it's amazing to play.
Italo: It works perfectly live.
Ed: So to come to South America with this record is perfect timing.
Italo: So, were you aware that... I mean we talked to the management about several campaigns that were going on in Peru, Costa Rica, even Colombia, we gathered like thousands of signatures on Facebook. I mean, Peru got twelve thousand people signing up, and Colombia got like seven thousand, and Costa Rica even got media attention and local bands supporting, and they were like ‘Yeah we still have a chance, guys’, and you know...
Ed: I'm really sorry, I mean I don't want to, like, you know... it's like it would be lovely... I mean, I so want to go to Colombia, I so want to go to Peru, you know, and who knows, maybe we shall. I know that the trouble is... and I'll be honest, the trouble is with places like Colombia in the UK, it gets a really......and I understand this, but for most people they don't understand that, you know, they still think that Colombia's a really dangerous place where people are getting....where the FARC are kidnapping everybody, every westerner that goes there, and certainly if you went in there you'd have to be very careful.
Italo: Yeah well it's it would be like saying that Brazil if full of favelas, which is not true.
Ed: Absolutely, absolutely, but you know how it is, with the media all over the world, they like to focus on the fear.
Ed: So that, I'm sure, you know, you have to read a lot to understand that it's not like that, and you know, I'd like nothing more than to do a proper tour of South America which includes Uruguay and Paraguay and that we could scale down the tour, but it doesn't work like that unfortunately.
Italo: There's been all kind of gigs lately, I mean, Peru has just had like huge festivals with REM and now we're having Iron Maiden and Kiss....
Italo: And these are all big stadium shows, as well as you know small shows like Bjork was just there, I mean...
Ed: Oh, really?
Italo: Yeah, it was in 2007.
Italo: Doing like, you know, small theatres around South America.
Italo: So I mean it can work out.
Ed: Yeah, yeah, and I think that would be... I think that could be great.
Italo: Well, Coldplay did it. I mean you don't like [Laughs]... what's your thoughts on Coldplay? I mean a lot of people think you guys hate them because they took kind of like The Bends and made it popular.
Ed: Oh, I don't hate them at all, I mean, you know, I think they... they work very, very hard and, you know, they're good at what they do, they want to be the biggest band in the world, you know.
Ed: And they're good at that, you know. Somebody has to do it.
Italo: Right. So, there's still chances that we'll have Radiohead for more years to come?
Ed: I think so
Italo: Any chance that you'll sign with a huge label, or just keep it independent?
Ed: Who knows? You know, you just don't know. Never say never. We had big offers from the major labels, but they didn't really interest us.
Ed: Yeah, I mean the important thing about everything that we do is to keeping it original, keeping it new, keep it moving, and whatever way we can do that, that'll be the best way.
Italo: Great. So I hope you guys come back here real soon, and would you let me... I'll just give you the bottle of Pisco.
Italo: Great. Let's see...
Ed: It's very, very kind of you, thank you.
Italo: As I told you, this can be like drank with a shot glass.
Italo: And it's our national drink, which is called pisco sour, which is done with lemon and a lot of ice and sugar.
Italo: There's like a lot of recipes out there, so it won't be hard to find. It's called pisco sour.
Ed: Pisco sour?
Italo: Pisco sour, yes that's it.
Ed: Thank you very much.
Italo: Would you mind if we took a picture together?
Ed: No, of course not. Should we do it outside in the....
Italo: Yeah, sure
Ed: Yeah, that'd be much better
Italo: There's names for each one of you.
Ed: Yeah, I know, I saw that. Brilliant.
Italo: One for each of the five of you and for Chris Hufford...
Italo: ...as a thank you gift. That instrument thing they just gave you...
Italo: ...that instrument thing they just gave you... the Mexicans would like it if you used it in a show.
Ed: Oh, right
Italo: So, if I can ask you a big favour...
Italo: Would you guys try to rehearse “Pearly*”, to try and play it here in South America? I don't know if there's any time to do it, or....
Ed: I don't think we've got time.
Italo: Okay. I love the tunes “I Might Be Wrong” and “Myxomatosis”. Would you have...?
Ed: Sure, sure.
Italo: That'd be great.
Ed: That's a possibility.
Ed: Yeah. Where should we take the pictures?
Radiohead Perú / 2009