"Self-loathing is something
we can all relate to," says Radiohead guitarist Ed O'Brien, by way of explaining
"Creep," the season's
most contagious rock anthem. "Every day, we see people who are better-looking or richer or more worthy than we feel."
The song, taken from the
British band's Capitol debut, "Pablo Honey," has climbed into the top 10
of Billboard's Modern Rock
Tracts chart and also is receiving strong video play at alternative outlets.
"It might sound miserable,
but it's actually a celebration of being a 'creep,'" says O'Brien, who
adds that the quintet never intended
to release the ditty until producers Sean Slade and Paul Q. Kolderie captured a practice version on tape. That very recording,
released with the barest of overdubs, seems like an unlikely sing-along -- except to O'Brien.
The group's five twentysomething
members would seem to have little reason for harboring such self- deprecating
natives of Oxford, a posh suburb dominated by the renowned college, they are, as their bio states, "the antithesis of the rock'n'roll
Though Radiohead formed some
six years ago, it wasn't until the members all dropped out of various colleges
two years back that
the quintet decided to pursue music seriously.
While drawing intense industry
scrutiny, Radiohead remained the immovable force, replacing the traditional
round of London
showcase gigs with an intensive spate of shoes on its home turf. Within three months -- after a gig to which more than 30 label
reps made the trek -- the band was signed by EMI in the U.K.
"I was always interested
in the way bands were set up, as much as in the music," says O'Brien. "We
wanted to stay in control, like,
say R.E.M. For us, that's paramount. We're not rock'n'roll idiots or sad cases."
The guitarist points to Radiohead's
active touring schedule (the band played more than 100 shows in the U.K.
in 1992) as evidence
of its commitment. Furthermore, Capitol intends to bring the group stateside this summer and fall in order to build the song's buzz
into a band-directed frenzy.
"We know this is a band with
a future, not a one-hit wonder," says Tom Curson, Capitol VP of artist
development, who says the
label plans to keep its focus on independent retail outlets and college radio.
"Our central challenge is
breaking this band in an alternative context -- one that stays true to
their vision," says Curson.