As anyone who’s seen the 1998 Radiohead tour documentary Meeting People Is Easy will know, being in or around the band as their masterpiece third record OK Computer became huge was not a lot of fun. And calling it a masterpiece was also a big no-no – oops! For the band’s frontman Thom Yorke, the harsh glare of the spotlight became too much and what should have been a victory lap around the globe became a gruelling, arduous schlep.
Meeting People Is Easy is full of clips of an exhausted Yorke hauling himself through promotional duties, and one of those interviews is available to watch in full. It’s taken from backstage at New York’s famous Radio City Music Hall, where Radiohead were playing later that evening, and sees Yorke sit down for a chinwag with MTV’s Matt Pinfield. It’s a curious watch, full of interesting tidbits, Yorke doing his best to be polite whilst looking like he’d rather be anywhere else, Pinfield trying to keep the whole thing jovial.
It’s at the beginning, though, where Yorke gives an insight into his state of mind after a year of everyone telling him he’s amazing, landing top spot on a host of Best Of lists and touring for the best part of a year. “You know when [films] have dream sequences or nightmare sequences,” Yorke says, “where you keep having different events and it’s like your life flashing before your eyes, that was happening every day... But it was cool because you take it the way it’s given. That’s what someone told me to do, take it with the love it’s given and that’s it. That’s what we’ve been trying to do but now, of course, we’re fried.”
Yorke would go on to revisit the theme of a life flashing before your eyes on the next batch of Radiohead recordings, it becoming a key line in Amnesiac opener Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box, whilst another piece of advice handed to him by R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe about dealing with fame became a core hook in Kid A’s How To Disappear Completely: “I’m not here, this isn’t happening.”
These days, Yorke seems to have found a level of fame he’s comfortable with, a much cheerier presence in interviews. But back in 1998, it had all got a bit too much. You can check out the interview in full below.