Thom Yorke made a rare late-night appearance Tuesday as a guest on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where the Radiohead singer touched on a variety of topics ranging from Brexit to his new album Anima to the importance of dreams.
Yorke — whose last U.S. late-night TV appearance came in 2011 when Radiohead guested on an hour-long episode of The Colbert Report — briefly reminisced about that segment with Colbert, who at the time was in his Comedy Central persona. “My character did not know who you were,” Colbert joked.
In reality, Colbert is well aware of Yorke, as his sons are “enormous” fans of Radiohead. Colbert’s sons penned a number of questions for their father to ask Yorke on The Late Show, but the one that made the cut was an inquiry about Yorke’s favorite R.E.M. song. “‘So. Central Rain,'” Yorke revealed.
Colbert then discussed how Radiohead’s music and Yorke’s anxiety-ridden lyrics have been prescient of the times, almost anticipating our current political landscape. “How does it feel to be right?” Colbert asked.
“I guess I wasn’t thinking about the future; I guess I was looking at what was happening at the time, it just seemed to get more obvious,” Yorke said. “It’s more overt now, but it felt like everything I was talking about was there. When we wrote the album Hail to the Thief, that seemed pretty bad, that period of time when Bush Jr. got in. And now we’re here.”
Yorke then broke down the nuances of Brexit to Colbert and the Late Show audience, offering up a harsh critique of Prime Minister Boris Johnson that Yorke admitted would probably prevent him from achieving future knighthood. “We live in strange times,” Yorke added. “It’s not my fault.”
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The singer then talked about the meaning of the word “anima,” the title of Yorke’s latest solo album. As Yorke explained, the Jungian phrase has numerous meanings, like “little spirits,” “dream-like state” and, in Italian, it serves as another word for “soul.”
The conversation closed with Yorke detailing why dreaming is so important for humans. “I’ve been reading a book called Why We Sleep and I find it fascinating that dreams are an important part about how we relate to other people, how we relate to society, how we process the things that happen to us. And if we don’t dream, we don’t connect to people correctly,” Yorke said. “Dreams are important fundamentally to how we live as human beings. I don’t know, I just got really in to it while I was making the record.”
Yorke is currently on a North American tour in support of Anima.