Thoreau and Thundercat: Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien on his guide to life in lockdown

The Radiohead turned solo star's top tips for what to watch, read, listen to and do while in quarantine

“I’m on the mend now,” Radiohead guitarist turned solo star Ed O’Brien tells NME via Skype, recovering at home after he recently told fans that he “most probably” had coronavirus. “It’s weird. I never worried. I’m lucky as I never thought it was life-threatening in any way. It just knocked me for six.”

Well, that is good to hear. Now that he’s thankfully out of his sick bed, O’Brien just has to face the same endless loop of monotony as the rest of us in lockdown. Or maybe not – as he seems to have a fair few tips for the best ways to keep one’s mind occupied during this time of quarantine. Check ’em out…


EOB: “I’m lucky, because I’ve been meditating for 18 years. It’s a foundation that helps me in life and it really works. You wake up, you feel a bit shit, you meditate and you feel so much better. I’d recommend it to everyone.”

Read Walden and chill

“I started reading Henry David Thoreau’s Walden – which I’ve really been enjoying. Due to the stillness within it, it feels like the right thing to be reading right now. I was ill so I couldn’t really do much. I didn’t want to listen to any music so I tended to just drift off and read this.”

Keep music cosmic

“This week was the first time I actually felt like listening to music since being ill, so I put on ‘Five Leaves Left’ and ‘Bryter Layter’ by Nick Drake. Then I listened to the new Thundercat album ‘It Is What It Is’. I remember the jazz stuff that he’s referencing from the first around, so I really need to let go. In the punk and post-punk world where I grew up, music was so tribal and jazz fusion was noodle-y and for musos. We just wanted three and a half minute pop songs, so for me this is a great re-introduction to that world. I love Flying Lotus for that too. I guess I’ve just been into that psychedelic and cosmic perspective overall lately.”


Watch Booksmart

“We’re going through a lot of films at the moment in my house. For the third time in two months, I watched Booksmart again the other night. It’s an amazing and genius film about teenagers, and it’s so important and refreshing to hear a story like this from a female perspective.”

Why not watch Interstellar, again and again?

“Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is my favourite film of the last 20 years and it’s always there to be watched.”

Start on Sopranos

“I’ve never seen The Sopranos, so I’m keen to get into that. I’m not quite sure how it’s going to work out with our teenage kids who are 16 and 14, but I feel it’s time to take the plunge.”

Put some Foals on

“I love Foals and think they’re a really great band. I went to one of their Ally Pally shows. My son’s a huge fan too so we went and made a night of it. He wanted to mosh so I ended up on the edge of the pit and observing this environment where it’s mad but safe.

“Yannis [Philippakis, frontman] is really cerebral and thoughtful. Not many people have the balls to drop out of Oxford University. He’s also got this really feral side to him, which I think must be his Greek side. It’s a really masculine power. Philip [Selway, Radiohead drummer] and I really got into Foals around the time of ‘Holy Fire’. When we toured ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ we got to hang out with them and I loved it. Phil and I were laughing because they’re such an Oxford band. I remember telling them not to overthink anything and just to do it. They don’t need someone like me to tell them what to do because they’re just so great.”

Ed O’Brien releases his debut solo album ‘Earth’ as EOB on April 17.