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Radiohead Talk Rock Hall Induction: ‘It’s a Big F-cking Deal’

“You realize the cultural impact,” guitarist Ed O’Brien says

Philip Selway and Ed O'Brien, RadioheadRock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Arrivals, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, USA - 29 Mar 2019

Members of Radiohead reflected on the significance of their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction on the big night.

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David Byrne remembered the exact moment he fell in love with Radiohead at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Friday.

“For me … Kid A, was my conversion moment,” Byrne told the crowd at Barclays Center. “The record joined together electronics with song forms that blew me away. I’d never heard anything like it. There are elements and influences of Can and Miles Davis’ electric period, but this was very different.”

Kid A turns 20 next year. Before being inducted into the Rock Hall, Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien and Philip Selway talked to Rolling Stone about their induction and their first U.S. Number One album.

How did it feel to get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Ed: You realize what a big thing it is over here. When we were nominated, I got so many emails from friends and family saying, “Well done!” You realize the cultural impact. Coming here — it’s like we said out there, it’s a big fucking deal. I wish the others — they would have enjoyed it I think.

What was their thinking about it?
Phil: They actually had other shows all booked. They couldn’t make it. But yes, I think they would’ve been blown away by this evening as well.

What did Thom say when you talked to him about it?
Ed: The last time in January when we were all together he was pleased that Philip and I were able to go because he wasn’t able to go. Not just him, but everybody felt like it was a big deal. And even if three people couldn’t be there, at least two of us could go. Like Philip says, he gets it.

What’s next for you guys?
We’re taking a break from the band. We’ve been doing touring. We’ve all got other projects that we want to get on with. We’re talking at the moment about what excites [us]. That’s always the spark that gets things moving along with us, particularly after 30 years.

What is it like to see your influence?
Ed: I think it’s really hard to even fathom that. When we’re not in Radiohead, we just live normal lives, normal middle-class lives with our family. I’m always blown away — yesterday walking along the street in New York, someone goes, Hey Ed, how are you doing? It’s very difficult to tell how we influenced people and it’s not necessarily something I feel comfortable dwelling upon. We do what we do. We’ve always done what we do. And we’re very lucky. If we influence other people, that’s incredible.

I just finished a book about EMI, Selling the Pig, and we’re mentioned a lot in it. We’re mentioned when we left EMI how much of a big blow it is, and I had no idea that we mattered that much to them. That probably sounds really naive.  But there weren’t people going, “You’re so important.” We were just one of the bands on their roster. Sometimes we don’t realize. And I think that’s a good place to be.

Next year is the 20th anniversary of Kid A — how does that feel?
Ed: My favorite anecdote from that period was doing an interview on the phone with Billboard, and it had gone Number One, and the guy was like, “This is the fucking weirdest Number One we’ve ever had in America.” We’re like, that’s great.

Phil: It was interesting with the OK Computer release that we did. Having a chance to go back in, go through that entire archive and realize how much work was generated at that point. I think there’s a similar thing around Kid A as well. We’ve not listened back to the outtakes and the other things we were working. I know there’s a wealth of stuff there.

Whenever you make a record there’s a time when you are collectively, individually, emotionally, physically — sometimes you leave these things open. With Ok Computer, we closed that door. Kid A was a difficult album to make. It’ll be interesting. Opening that one will be interesting. It’ll all come flooding back. It wasn’t the happiest of times. But I think the music was pretty good.

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