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Radiohead's Secret Influences, From Fleetwood Mac to Thomas Pynchon

The music, books and documentaries the band highlighted as past and present inspirations during Rolling Stone's cover interviews

August 28, 2012 3:06 PM ET

M.I.A.'s Arular

"I really try to limit [listening to other people's music while working on new songs], but M.I.A.'s first record really seeped in. M.I.A. takes this complete block and chop repeat, chop repeat, chop, not finished [method]. Which really reminds me of that thing of just picking up a guitar and the first three chords you write and being like, yep, that's good. Stop. End. Not sort of sitting there fifteen hours later agonizing over the hi-hat sound. That seems to be what happens with programming and electronica a lot of the time. You can feel the pain going on." — Thom Yorke

The Liars' Drum's Not Dead

"On Drum's Not Dead in particular, their method of putting things together was so fucking out there. It was like something from the Seventies." — Thom Yorke

The Smiths

"I only went to Manchester really because of the music scene and really because of the Smiths. And when I got there, within a month I got seven Smiths shows." — Ed O'Brien

"I think I went [to Smiths shows] about ten or fifteen times. I'd stay with him and we saw a couple of shows." — Thom Yorke

Happy Mondays

"The Happy Mondays were amazing. I never saw them, I had the records. And when they were on, they were incredible and when they were off, they were incredibly awful." — Ed O'Brien

"In terms of musical appearance, that was the most influential, informed period for all of us." — Thom Yorke

Pixies and Throwing Muses

"Our teenage years we were all about going down to London and seeing all of favorite Boston bands, Throwing Muses and Pixies — that sort of music, really. Boston is so much cooler. I had no idea, I had never been anywhere near America." — Jonny Greenwood

Fleetwood Mac

"Well I try to tell everyone, I'm a complete fan of Fleetwood Mac. I put a couple of thing on the webcast and I thought I would hear some mutterings about it. I didn't say what it was, and they'd say, 'Wow, that was great, what was it?' and I would say, 'Fleetwood Mac, you bastards!' Our manager introduced me to Fleetwood Mac years ago because he knows Peter Green-era, sort of psychedelic folk blues. Just the way it was recorded with the drums, the dry drums with the percussion in the background. Just really amazing and it sounds really modern to me as well. I just think it's great." — Colin Greenwood

Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow

"I just started Gravity's Rainbow. I tried reading it once before, but this time around it's much more fun. It's a really early one, isn't it? This one seems easier to get into than V." — Thom Yorke

Viktor E. Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning

"I just finished a Viktor Frankl book, Search for Meaning, which is an amazing story. He was in a concentration camp in the second World War and he was also a psychiatrist, so he was able to be sort of objective about the human spirit and why some people fell by the wayside and why some survived and how they did it." — Ed O'Brien

Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine

"And I just bought The Shock Doctrine. I knew it was out and I haven't read one of those kinds of books for a very long time. I'm ready for it." — Ed O'Brien

Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner

"And now I'm reading The Kite Runner, which I hard was just made into a film, it's about Afghanistan. Which is an amazing story. It's not very good bedtime reading 'cause it's a bit, you know. It's really interesting, the tensions between the Pushtans and the Hazaras — we just think of them as a bunch of Afghans, but of course they're a tribal people. And it goes from pre-Soviet invasion to Soviet invasion, to post and the Taliban." — Ed O'Brien

George Monbiot's Heat

"The one that finished me off was George Mombiat's book Heat. The most sort of radical I've read on the climate change, which totally blew my mind. It's just really very frightening. It's very stimulating but very frightening." — Thom Yorke

Pixies Documentary loudQUIETloud

"I'll tell you if anyone wants to understand what it's like to be in a band, is this Pixie's documentary that Jonny brought in that we watched. That's what it's like, a group of people working in a close proximity for fifteen years together and going through a lot of emotion and stuff and essentially being people and coming out from the experience not to get too damaged from it and I thought that was very very very good. Really tender and accurate and I know some universal truths about it and not just about the Pixies." — Colin Greenwood

 

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

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