Among the basic survival skills a band needs to make it in Britain is the ability to incite and entice the music press. While Radiohead has ably attracted English media attention, the Oxford quintet hasn’t been entirely on top of its public-image game, acquiring an unwanted reputation for ruthless ambition.
“If you say you want to be desperately successful, people don’t like that,” says singer Thom Yorke. “Everyone in Britain’s obsessed with credibility, trying to look like you’re not selling records when you are.” Fortunately for Radiohead, it is. The group’s debut album, Pablo Honey, has done very nicely, thank you.
Songs like “Anyone Can Play Guitar” and the post-Pablo manifesto “Pop Is Dead” reveal these young pop rebels’ awareness of their métier, contemplating the stardom treadmill while waiting to get on it. But it’s the gathering storm clouds of “Creep” (“I wish I was special, you’re so fucking special, but I’m a creep”) that imply Radiohead’s potential for anthemlike tension.
The recipe for Pablo Honey, says Yorke, was writing strong melodies “and then hitting self-destruct buttons on all the pedals and making as much noise as we could.” Looking ahead, bassist Colin Greenwood says, “I think that within Radiohead’s school of guitar noise, there’s a midtempo acoustic-ballads band struggling to get out. If we record enough albums and we’re secure enough, perhaps we’ll do a Neil Young Harvest album.”
This is from the July 8th, 1993 issue of Rolling Stone.