Thom Yorke Details Anxious, Dystopian New Solo Album

By Katrina Nattress

May 9, 2019

Thom Yorke never seems to stop working. In the past year he's embarked on a solo tour, scored a film, and written classical music despite “dreadful writers block” and “incredible bouts of anxiety.” He's also working on a new solo album, which he detailed in a new interview with Crack magazine.

"It’s certainly heavy. It’s big. We watched Flying Lotus in the early years on tour with us, and we watched him with his live set-up performing all his loops and thought, ‘Well that’s interesting,’ because it’s a live performance, he’s improvising," he explained. "We suddenly realised this is a new way to write stuff. I would send [frequent collaborator Nigel Godrich] completely unfinished, sprawling tracks and he would focus in on the bits and pieces that he thought would work, build them up into samples and loops, and then throw them back at me, where I would start writing vocals."

As for the themes, the Radiohead frontman explored the effects of anxiety in a dystopian setting. "The dystopian thing is one part of it, yes, but for me, one of the big, prevailing things was a sense of anxiety," he admitted, "If you suffer from anxiety it manifests itself in unpredictable ways, some people have over-emotional reactions. [For] some people the roots of reality can just get pulled out, you don’t know what’s happening. Then eventually reality comes back."

"For some reason I thought a really good way of expressing anxiety creatively was in a dystopian environment," he continued. "I had so many visual things going on at this point. Another one was where everybody was travelling to work but their bodies were telling them that they wouldn’t do it anymore. They were refusing to cooperate, so they were doing these involuntary movements."

Aside from his solo endeavors, Yorke also discussed the 20th anniversary of Kid A, which came out in 2000. "Recently, I’ve been going through the Kid A and Amnesiac stuff with the others. We were all a bit mad by the end of that period," he said. "We went through the whole crazy OK Computer period and I became catatonic at the end of it. Then we worked really hard for a year and a half with really not that many breaks and it was really intense. We didn’t know what the f**k we were doing, and I was refusing to rehearse anything! Imagine, if you will, the chaos."

"I recently found this box file of all the faxes I was sending and receiving from Stanley [Donwood, visual artist] about the artwork and they’re hilarious," he added. "I’ve got all this stuff, pages and pages and photocopies, that I just left strewn around the studios. Nigel picked them up and thought, ‘We’d better keep these.’ I was so focused and at the same time angry, confused, paranoid. I’m looking at all these people involved, going ‘Who the fuck are these people?!’ We’re going to do something really cool with all that material."

Read Thom Yorke's full interview here.

Photo: Getty Images

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