Ed O’Brien Interview “You’ve got to find a voice”

Here is Ed O’Brien’s interview (translated to English) where he mentions Radiohead touring in 2012.

Source: All Tuntun

To think about Radiohead is to think about something giant. One of the most important bands in Rock History, ufff, but not as fossilized myth but more like as some kind of firing material, passionate and constant. Sort of a factory of sounds, pure electricity from an eternal lightning coming from, ufff, the holly ninenties, sincronizing with the pulse of an entire decade and a whole generation defining them from the very beginning (yeah, I’m talking ‘bout Creep), giving some colour, to break right after with everything, as the only possible way to follow the best path: a path of their own. Because of that, it is no casual that after Ok Computer (1997), the album which has been so definitive in developing the algebra of making songs to a master level, and turned these five aliens into a major crisis; changing as the only northward, to turn into something else, standing in a different place, another century, another millenium. With two albums outlined within the logic of a ferocious storm, exploding into a cursed sound: roaring, groaning, calming, detonated from beasty machines out of those two obscure diamonds called Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001). Confusing people, spreading idle gossip which had turned into some old, yellow, humid, magazines, Radiohead fortified its body, became famous and start walking over an electric fire of a mutant sound, that in between explotions and gentleness contained in the abyss of an inmortal repertoire, the neverlasting gas out from a flame that’s still growing now. Aldo Montaño.

This interview is the product of the delirium of a pair who traveled in a car for hours listening to the same old songs. Singing along as if we were nuts, not caring about the real sense, if there is any, but in which we would like (I would like) stay to live in. Because at the end, no matters how much I try, have no idea what the hell “I will raise up little babies eyes” means. But what I do know is that’s a part of the sweetest song in the world. Neither can explaing why it makes me so happy listen to Ed doing backing vocals in Karma Police, or when he sings with Thom in Paranoid Android, but there is a sort of a hunch that makes me feel everything surrounding these five giants is full of an enormous love towards humanity. As I said, these was our own delirium so we went “What if we ask Ed for an interview?” And althought all logics indicated we weren´t going to get any answer, even we still had some hope of a yes, at least I´d never thought that after a few weeks of singing along in a car the parts of this beautiful giant named Ed O’Brien, we would see him arriving in a yellow bike to a little cafe just to look at us and saying “Hey Sam, Casandra! How are you?”

By Casandra Scaroni and Samuel Dietz.

Casandra- Have you been a fan when you were a kid? If that so, do you remember how it was that feeling after beeing on the other side for so long ?
Ed- Ever been a fan of…
C- of a band…
E- Oh yeah, of course. I mean, I’m still a fan of music in terms of a teenager. Yeah,when I was a teenager you know, you follow a band but it wasn’t like it is now, you would turn up at a show, you might go to one show like The Smiths in the 80′s or U2 or something in the 80′s, so yeah, I totaly remember how it feels because it’s very alive, it feels very important to you, that feeling of being into a band or when you get new music from a band it’s very important to you.
C- Or when there is a new record released and you go to the discstore.
E- Yeah, that’s right! It’s massive, it consumes, it takes over your life, days or weeks or whatever.
C- I’ve been reading interviews from you, and you’ve described yourself once as a « single’s junkie ». Do you remember which were the singles that got you into music at first place?
E- I was very lucky because I grew up in an era, a time from about 1979 onwards, and I was very aware of music in the charts in England . It was the post-punk era, so you had a lot of music like Siouxie and the Banshees, Adam And The Ants… There were bands like Depeche Mode, XTC, The Police, Bowie: the whole after punk that happened in this country. It was a very foetal place for music because people who went to Art College or artists, or musicians, suddenly thought « Oh I can be that » so, it was a great era of music, you’d been listening to the charts or tape them on a cassette recorder so you’d have Walking On The Moon by The Police, Spellbound by Siouxie And The Banshees, early Hip-Hop as well. Yeah, the whole charts would follow very diverse, very different experimental Pop music.I mean: that was Pop music when I grew up and those records went to number one. That was brilliant, you know!

Sam- How did you start playing the guitar? Why did you pick the guitar in the first place?
E- That’s probably because of two things that happened at the same time. I saw a poster of The Jam about 1979, a picture of the three of them: Paul Weller with his Rickenbacker was so amazing, he’s jumping and that image was really really strong. And the other thing was really The Police, Andy Summers, when I heard that it was like woah! I connect with that! And then it was listening to things like Johnny Marr.

S-That’s why you have a Rickenbaker?
E- That’s was why the first guitar I wanted after the record deal was a Rickenbaker, because of that, yeah
S- You mentionned Paul Weller of The Jam, Andy Summers of The Police, Johnny Marr, Peter Buck as being determinating to you to start to play the guitar. Is it because you wanted to be like them ?
E- I didn’ want to be like them, but I liked what they were doing, they were quite different players but I liked what they were doing. They weren’t like guitar solos, they were like space, great.

C- It’s important for you to be a part of a band, and not just a star showing off?

E- Yeah, I like being in a band, it’s like a team, like a good football team. In a great band you’re pushed harder by having great players around you, and you have to work harder.
S- How do you work as a band now? You used to say if Radiohead was the United Nations, Thom would be the USA. Is it still the same?
E- Yeeeah (laugh)
E- I mean, he’s the lead singer.
S- the main songwriter as well.
E- Yeah, he drives the music, other people drive the band.
S- But you still bring a lot of input into the songs.
E- Yeah, for example, for the last record, he didn’t know how it was gonna be, so we made the songs jamming together, and he would bring lyrics or melodies. Everybody is allowed lots of creative freedom.
S- Do you have a recurrent pattern to make the songs? Like first the music then the lyrics?
E- In the last record, music came first, then the lyrics, and the melody came after. So we had blocks of music and then Thom would write a lead vocal line melody and lyrics to it. But you know, on OK Computer, the lyrics, they’d be basic’ with the songs being strummed on acoustic with the basis of the lyrics, then we’d go to the rehearsal and the arrangements would change, and the lyrics evolved as the music evolved.
S- And sometimes the song is totally different, like Reckoner for example, with the first version very rock and then it became this beautiful thing on In Rainbows.
E- Yes, that happened because we were in a session recording Reckoner 1, then it was suggested that we needed another musical section to it so Thom and Jonny wrote this other section but we liked this other section better so we used that for Reckoner 2. And it’s so much better now.
S- Yeah it is.

C- So do you have a memory of a concert you can consider the best one, or the opposite, the worst one?
E- I can tell you the worst one. It was of a band called Lloyd Cole And The Commotions, you know, it was awfull, 1986, terrible, very boring. One of the best ones, there’s lots of good ones, but one of the best was in 1992 Sonic Youth at Brixton Academy, the opening band was Pavement. Pavement came on and it was on their first album Slanted and Enchanted and it was mesmerizing, it was amazing. And then, Sonic Youth came on, they had an album called Dirty at the time and it’s a great album. I don’t know if you know it, but it’s a great album. And it was incredible, it was amazing. It was one of those night that was just, you can always think I’m seeing not one but two amazing bands. Pavement was so good but Sonic Youth kind of raised…
C- Talking about the moments, once you said something very special happens when you see each other playing and you see the faces and you are all of you giving the best in the moment. Do you think we can hear some of those moments in the albums?
E- Yeah, definately. That’s an amazing thing about music. You can capture the magic on the record, that’s an amazing thing. Quincy Jones has expression for it, he says when you record a piece of music, you can play the same thing ten times, but once the magic happens and he says it’s a moment when God works through the rythm, the spirit it’s…
C- And the moment you can actually feel it and know it is the moment.
E- Yeah, you feel something, it’s very strong, it’s kind of like a spine tingle.
S- It’s all of you at the same time, you feel the same and you know that’s it, that’s the one.
E- Yeah, you sort of look at one another… you know, it doesn’t always happen like that, sometimes you go « Really? » but other times, you do know. It’s not always « Yeah that’s the one » but other times you go « yeah that’s the one ».
S- For example, for Lucky if I remember well, it was recorded in one or two takes.
E- No, I don’t think that was the one, I think a lot of stuff on Ok Computer like Let Down, Climbing Up The Walls, No Surprises they were coming like, OK, that’s the one.

C- There is a rumor that you’re going to play on Saturday Night Live.
E- Oh yeah it’s been announced, it’s no longer a rumor.
C- Do you like the show?
E- I never saw it. Many amazing comedians come from that show but we don’t get it here.
S- But you’ve played there already a few times before?
E- Once I think, once. That was great, good fun.
S- You like these kinds of tv show where you can play music like this, live…
E- Yeah it’s great!
S- Is it a lot of freedoom in this kind of show for the music? You can do whatever you want?
E- Yeah, they are pretty easy, they let you do what you want, you’ve got a certain amount of time, you do that.
C- And you don’t have the pressure like the host, you just go there to play and that’s it.
E- Yeah.
S- I remember one tv show in France, it was Hit Machine in 1996 and you played Just but it was playback and Jonny was playing…
E- Left handed, yeah I remember very well!
S-, It was so funny to see. You were just doing bullshit. Did you do it to ruin the show or just for the fun of it?
E- I think we did it for the fun. We wouldn’t do it to ruin it. We were like, let’s be like The Beatles, yeah and him doing the backing vocals. No we wouldn’t do anything out for the negative, it was just for fun.
S- OK, it’s not like you hate playback tv shows.
E- No it’ just like, it’s playback so let’s have some fun.

C- Since Kid A, before an album been released you have played in small venues and it didn’t happen with The King Of Limbs, why?
E- We finished touring In Rainbows and we wanted to go in the recording studios immediatly and try to make the songs up in the studio, so that’s why. But we’re gonna play these songs live, we’re booking some dates at the moment for next year.
C- Sorry for this obvious question but is Argentina in the tour also?
E- Oh I don’t know, we had an amazing time in South America last time. It was our first time and Buenos Aires was… I mean… you know it was interesting how we played in Brasil, Argentina and Chile and you could feel very much the flavour of each of the places we played. It was kind of quite distinct of the fans, you know, the response of the audience. And Buenos Aires public was mental, like grrraaaawr.
C- I couldn’t be there but I have a friend that was and had the idea that you and Colin were looking amazed at the audience at some point.
E- Incredible. It was magic, you know, there was magic that night.
C- There was an episode that night that someone threw a shoe at Thom.
E- Yes, it was probably in the moment, I was looking down, it was mental and at the front it was like a pack of wild dogs and I can imagine that things were flying out, yeah.
S- And he takes the shoe in the middle of the song, he steps back for a second and keeps on going singing, he doesn’t stop. You never saw it?
E- Yeah, we saw it but it wasn’t a big deal, it happenned in the spirit, you know.
C- We were worried after that you would never come back again.
E- No, no, no it was great!

Source: All Tuntun


You can now read Part 2 of this interview here.