Thom Yorke on the Radiohead and Massive Attack album that never happened

Massive Attack, London , United Kingdom, 1998 next to Singer-guitarist Thom Yorke of the band Radiohead performs at a concert March 28, 1998
(Image credit: Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images/Kelly Buck/Liaison)

Radiohead and Massive Attack emerged from wildly different backgrounds – one from a private school in Oxfordshire and one from Bristol’s sound system and graffiti culture – but by the mid-90s, the two groups saw themselves as kindred spirits. Both were experimental artists who’d had mainstream success, rewriting the boundaries of where rock, electronic music, dance, and hip-hop could co-exist. But they weren’t just admiring each other from afar. Instead, plans were afoot for a full-scale crossover, the idea being that Massive Attack were going to do a full remix of Radiohead’s 1997 record OK Computer. “Musically, it could be really interesting,” guitarist Ed O’Brien said at the time. “It’ll be very cool to see what happens.” 

Unfortunately, it never happened, and a year later in 1998 Thom Yorke sat down for an interview with MTV’s 120 Minutes to explain why. “I think their manager gave them a kick up the arse and said, ‘could you finish your record please?’,” the singer laughed. “I think that’s where it was left. It was cool. 3D (Massive Attack frontman Robert Del Naja) was on the stage at Glastonbury when we played and it was cool to see his face in the midst of all the hell that was breaking loose that night. They’re good people… but they’re going to be stuck on their record now, which is a shame.”

Despite Massive Attack’s Daddy G suggesting that the two bands were going to try and get together in summer 1998 for a jam, nothing was ever released, and what would have been one of the great 90s team-ups never came to fruition. On the plus side, Massive Attack did crack on and finish their own record instead, 1998’s Mezzanine remaining one of the decade’s finest - alongside OK Computer, of course.

Watch the full interview below.

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.