‘What you’ll never get in your book,” Sex Pistol John Lydon once told a biographer, “is the utter, total boredom of being in a band.” But that’s just what filmmaker Grant Gee gets in his ninety-four-minute Radiohead documentary, Meeting People Is Easy. Originally hired to cover the launch of OK Computer, the thirty-four-year-old English video director (he did the band’s “No Surprises”) was kept on to record the band’s grueling 1997-98 world tour and wound up with a compellingly bleak travelogue. Influenced by the offstage revelations of D.A. Pennebaker’s Don’t Look Back and Robert Frank’s Cocksucker Blues. Gee’s tour document focuses on the grim. neon monotony of underpasses. airports and hotel rooms. and captures a band creeping toward madness and collapse. “The main thing that gets to you,” says Gee. “is the repetition. Trying to move forward but having to do the same things day after day.”
There are beautiful moments. Gee’s favorite being a Philadelphia audience’s rendition of “Creep,” during which leadman Thom Yorke’s expression shifts from pissed-off to elated. Overall. whether it’s an EMI representative telling the band, “We enjoy working your music,” or a morose Yorke complaining that “driving around in America. listening to the alternative stations – it’s just like hearing a fridge buzzing,” the end result is a thoroughly disheartened, soul-destroying £200,000 anti-rockumentary – with three new songs. Just another commercial suicide? That’s just what they said about OK Computer.
This story is from the January 21st, 1999 issue of Rolling Stone.