“They’re not interested in pleasing their label or fans – just themselves. That’s what I try to do too”: Ihsahn and his wife want you to listen to Radiohead

Ihsahn and Radiohead
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It might seem that there’s a great distance between Ihsahn’s musical output and the material Radiohead have released. But in 2010, when the Emperor leader was just beginning to be seen as a prog artist, he explained why – as far as he and his wife were concerned – there was almost no distance at all.

“I grew up with records like Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son and Judas Priest’s Sad Wings Of Destiny, and they’re both quite progressive in their own way.

It’s really great that people are beginning to regard what I do as progressive metal or progressive music in some other way, because I’ve always been interested in doing something new. The black metal philosophy was always supposed to be about being an adversary and not just following what everyone else does.

That’s why I have such admiration for Radiohead – and for Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood in particular. I know they began as some kind of alternative rock band and they were very popular, but they’ve become something quite unique and everything they do is fascinating to me. I heard Creep when it was a big hit, but I didn’t listen to them again until Hail To The Thief, and the album blew me away.

Thom York is such a unique singer… Jonny Greenwood has become someone that we get a lot of inspiration from

I’m a total studio geek and I’m interested in the possibilities of what you can do with sound and different equipment, and Radiohead have experimented so much. All of their records sound very different from one another, and there’s also so much variety from song to song. Everybody likes OK Computer – but Hail To The Thief and In Rainbows are incredible records too.

Thom Yorke is such a unique singer and he’s also a very brave artist. His solo album [2006’s The Eraser] is extremely interesting and very different from most of the Radiohead records. It’s not commercial at all, and that’s something that makes him stand out.

Jonny Greenwood has made some great music of his own too, including the soundtrack for There Will Be Blood (2007), which is a fantastic piece of work. My wife Heidi [aka Starofash] and I are very interested in soundtrack music and instrumental music, and Jonny Greenwood has become someone that we get a lot of inspiration from. 

Radiohead are one of the biggest bands on the planet – but they don’t seem interested in pleasing their record company or their fans. They’re just concerned with making great music and pleasing themselves. That’s what I try to do too.”

Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s.