Radiohead wanted to use a ‘Doctor Who’ Dalek to create ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ album artwork

Artist Stanley Donwood speaks in new interview

Radiohead collaborator Stanley Donwood has revealed that he originally wanted to create the artwork for the band’s latest album ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ with use of a Doctor Who Dalek.

‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ was released by the band in May 2016, with its artwork once again created by Donwood, who has worked with the group since 1994.

Speaking to Creative Review, Donwood explained: “It’s normally about two years to make a Radiohead record. The first things we were talking about were trying to get away from narrative and figurative art, to try and do something that was more to do with chance and happenstance.”

“I had this idea of a painting Dalek that instead of exterminating people would squirt paint…. But unfortunately our technical skills weren’t up to the job of constructing a Dalek.”

DaleksGetty Images

“So we started messing around with what we could do with the weather and paint, and what happens with large quantities of paint and wind,” he added. The artist started leaving canvases outdoors: “We almost removed human agency from the painting process,” he says, “it was like setting up an experiment and seeing what happened. Some of the canvases were rubbish, so we just painted over them with white and started again. But, by and large we ended up, through a process of editing, with a body of work we were really, really pleased with.”

On working with frontman Thom Yorke, Donwood said: “To sum up crudely, when we’re working together, I do something, then he fucks it up, then I fuck up what he’s done… and we keep doing that until we’re happy with the result. It’s a competition to see who ‘wins’ the painting, which one of us takes possession of it in an artistic way.”


Donwood also explained why the band decided to erase their social media accounts before announcing their new album: “That was another of those ideas that you have down the pub that turned out to be really much more effective than we thought. Honestly, we did not expect people to go quite so crazy. It worked really well; really it was a way of getting rid of all of what had gone before; it was a practical solution to what seemed to be a complicated problem. Quite a simple solution: just stop everything for a bit.”

“I thought the reaction was weird: ‘Radiohead erases itself from the internet.’ What a strange thing to say, ’cause you can’t. But the reaction was great, it was fantastic, it was really exciting. It was like being some sort of evil Bond villain or something, in some lair, pressing buttons. Actually more like the Mike Myers’ version of an evil Bond villain. It was creatively brilliant fun.”

Meanwhile, Radiohead have been confirmed to headline Coachella Festival 2017.