Alec Baldwin recently invited Thom Yorke to his WNYC podcast The Thing Is, and the two chatted for nearly an hour about Atoms for Peace, Radiohead and fame. Yorke described how his approach with Atoms for Peace was different than with Radiohead, noting how he fleshed out the band after crafting much of the music on computers. “It was a totally different process. I mean it’s always fun if you know what you’re aiming at, if you know what the tunes are,” said Yorke. “You’re not trying to write them, you’re just emulating what’s already been written. That makes it fun straight away because it’s a different sort of creative process.”
He continued, “You’re not struggling around in the dark for a way into a piece of music. You’re figuring out how to strip it down to its raw essentials, especially if something’s been written on a computer and then you have to humanly learn how to play it.” Yorke called the process “a lot more fun and a lot more relaxed” than constantly trying to write music while learning how to play it.
Yorke also shared some thoughts on Radiohead, his mindset on keeping the band together for so long and their discretion with live shows. Baldwin related how Paul McCartney once told him even the Beatles got tired of being the Beatles, and Yorke said he’s felt the same way himself.
“Were there times when you guys sat there and looked at each other and said, ‘I think we’re done?'” asked Baldwin. “I do that frequently,” replied Yorke. “They wait for you, so it’s like yeah, just stick around, Thom will quit for us,” Baldwin later responded. ” I’m feeling it’s coming up. I mean you know, something to do with the fact that we haven’t done anything useful for three weeks. It goes through these phases, you know? We’ve grown up together. It’s weird.”
Yorke called Radiohead’s tour last year “probably, in theory, the scariest one we’ve ever done” due to the number of large shows, which he says he tends to avoid. “Why? Because you can’t achieve technically in a large space what you normally want to?” asked Baldwin. “Exactly that. You can’t get across to people the right way, I felt. So we did spend a lot of time and effort coming up with like a stage design which used screens in a certain way which made it intimate even though, you know, some nights it was like 30 or 40,000 people.”
Check out the entire interview below as Yorke discusses Radiohead history, his relationship with Atoms for Peace bandmate and longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, and more.