Radiohead explain how The Smiths and Tony Blair influenced ‘OK Computer’

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Band break down every track from their 1997 classic album

Radiohead have given a track-by-track rundown of their classic album ‘OK Computer’ in which, amongst other things, they explain how it was partly influenced by The Smiths and Tony Blair.

The band recently announced the 20th anniversary reissue of ‘OK Computer’. It will arrive on June 23, the same day they perform at Glastonbury.

In an expansive Rolling Stone feature, the band break down every track on the record, while people like Michael Stipe and Alanis Morissette also reflect on the period surrounding the album’s release.

Of ‘Airbag’, Thom Yorke says: “If you get into a crash or a potentially disastrous situation and walk away, you feel a thousand times more alive regardless of what that is”, while he describes ‘Paranoid Android’ as “50 percent ‘Bohemian Rhapsody'” and “50 percent ‘Happiness Is a Warm Gun'”. He also compares ‘Subterranean Homesick Alien’ to Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The band go on to explain how ‘Exit Music (for a Film)’ – which was commissioned for Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet – was inspired by Johnny Cash, Remy Zero and Beach Boys’ ‘Pet Sounds’. ‘Let Down’, meanwhile, Yorke explains “came from being in the bubble and looking at things as they passed by me”.

Radiohead

Radiohead

‘Karma Police’, Jonny Greenwood says, was “kind of a nod to the Smiths”, while ‘Fitter Happier’ came from Yorke reading about how “we’re pumping the animals we eat full of antibiotics before we buy ’em, which are then going into our bloodstream, making us resistant to antibiotics”.

‘Electioneering’, Yorke explains, was a result of both the country’s “optimism” surrounding Tony Blair’s ascent but also his own scepticism: “There was for a brief moment in Britain the belief that the politics could be removed from self-interest and removed from vesting interest. But then it was obvious within months that wasn’t gonna happen.”

Of ‘Climbing Up The Walls’, Yorke says: “I was fascinated in a kind of twisted way about what is it that makes someone who can go through life and just snap one day and do something that you can’t possibly imagine. And it was in the context that people don’t get looked after like they should”, while he describes how ‘No Surprises’ was written during a “two-hour bus journey with a bunch of old-age pensioners”.

‘Lucky’ was recorded in five hours and producer Nigel Godrich describes the recording session as “the beginning of ‘OK Computer'”. Yorke explains of the album’s closing track ‘The Tourist’: “Everything was about speed. Everything was moving so fast. I had that sense of sitting in looking out a window and things moving past me so fast you could barely see them.”

Read the full feature here.

Radiohead headline Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage next Friday (June 23). It’s their first time at the festival since 2011 and their first headline slot there since 2003.