It’s a bittersweet day for the Radiohead fan. Though yesterday’s release of the pretty impressive, orchestral “Harry Patch (In Memory of)” might have been seen as forward progression towards the release of Radiohead’s eight long player, it was merely a tease. In the 2009 Music issue of The Believer, Thom Yorke revealed that the band is not thinking about putting a new album out anytime soon. Instead, we can look forward to some singles, EPs, and other odds and ends for a while.
Via Pitchfork: “None of us want to go into that creative hoo-ha of a long-play record again. Not straight off,” Yorke said. “I mean, it’s just become a real drag. It worked with In Rainbows because we had a real fixed idea about where we were going. But we’ve all said that we can’t possibly dive into that again. It’ll kill us.” There seems to be a sense of finality in the aforementioned quote, but we will have to pray it isn’t so for now.
It’s a bit sad to think that a group of musicians who have always prided themselves on their reverence for the classic album have decided to take a break from doing what they do best. But, in the case of Radiohead, such a break is only further proof of just how much respect the lads have for the prestige of a classic record: “I mean, obviously, there’s still something great about the album. It’s just, for us, right now, we need to get away from it a bit… In Rainbows was a particular aesthetic and I can’t bear the idea of doing that again. Not that it’s not good, I just can’t… bear… that.”
The guys have always been known for their brash, selfless decisions, always doing what they think is best for the music and even if that’s not necessarily what is best for them as human beings. Meeting People Is Easy captures this ideology rather beautifully. Simply by looking at the existence of Kid A, a completely alienating and off-kilter showing which followed up the uber-successful rock of OK Computer, it is easy to see that Radiohead isn’t putting out records just because they can. They have a mission, and right now that mission isn’t to put out a sub-par album.
So what’s in store from Oxford’s best if not proper LPs? The guys could be going in a more orchestral direction according some statements made by Yorke in the interview: “Jonny [Greenwood] and I have talked about sitting down and writing songs for orchestra and orchestrating it fully and just doing it like that and then doing a live take of it and that’s it — finished. We’ve always wanted to do it, but we’ve never done it because, I think the reason is, we’re always taking songs that haven’t been written for that, and then trying to adapt them. That’s one possible EP because, with things like that, you think, Do you want to do a whole record like that? Or do you just want to get stuck into it for a bit and see how it feels?”
So in other words, the guys are being very diligent. They want to continue to make music, but in a way that frees them up creatively. When you look at it on the bright side, they are really just taking some time off to explore a musical direction for an album which will come in due time. It seems as if they just don’t want to put out anything that isn’t spectacular. Thus, for them, at this point, EPs and one-offs are the way to go. It’s sad, but in the longrun it could be “All For The Best.”
In the interview, Yorke went on to discuss his positive feelings regarding the fall of the CD and the music industry altogether: “I mean, I always hated CDs. Me and Stanley [Donwood] always hated CDs. Just a fucking nightmare. There’s a process of natural selection going on right now. The music business was waiting to die in its current form about twenty years ago. But then, hallelujah, the CD turned up and kept it going for a bit. But basically, it was dead” (via Prefix).
Hopefully the music industry isn’t dead. Hopefully Radiohead isn’t dead. Hopefully… yeah. For now, get out the Kleenex, take a long hard look at seven great records and pray that there will be an eighth sometime soon. Until then, orchestral EPs and singles will have to do. But, hey, it is Radiohead, I think they’ve got it under control.
For the full Believer interview, it appears you’ll have to throw up a heap of dough to get a copy mailed to you or buy it in the store? This to be clarified.
also available at CoS