Radiohead Plays For Creeps
If you've ever felt like
a complete good-for-nothing loser (who hasn't?), Radiohead's your kind
of band. These polite chaps from stately Oxford, England who say "so kind
of you to come" when you show up at their gigs are flying the geek flag
high with their misfit anthem "Creep." It's a glum-but-catchy ditty with
these self-flagellating words: "I wish I was special. You're so fuckin'
special. But I'm a creep. I'm a weirdo. What the hell am I doing here?
I don't belong here." Not exactly the life of the party, but Radiohead
doesn't mind. "We're not really a have-a-good-time band," explains singer/guitarist/lyricist
Thom Yorke in soft British tones. "I've got this thing that pop music can
be something completely different than what it is at the moment. Pop as
a medium is very stale. The radio tends to be full of songs that aren't
that honest or frightening enough. Occasionally you get songs where you
say, wow, someone's actually
tried desperately to rewrite the world how they see it or paint a genuine picture of what they're seeing. You see it with songs like 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' or 'Another Brick In The Wall.' We're trying to do something a little bit left of center that makes people realize they're still alive. We're very much part of the Generation-X philosophy, I suppose."
Radiohead signed on about six years ago. The band's members (Yorke, bassist Colin Greenwood, drummer Phil Selway and guitarists Ed O'Brien and Jonny Greenwood, Colin's brother), all in their mid-twenties, attended the same school and were reared on bands like Talking Heads, Magazine, Elvis Costello and R.E.M. The band's released two previous EP's, '92s Drill and Creep, which ignited a record industry buzz. At one Oxford gig more than thirty labels came down to hear Radiohead's melancholy mix of dreamy vocals and gnashing guitars. "It was scary," says Colin, "every record company in the country was there. We couldn't get them all on the guest list so they had to pay."
"Creep"'s hitting plenty of raw nerves as the band's debut album, Pablo Honey, steadily creeps up the Billboard charts. As far as what inspired the song, Yorke says, "I just wrote it in a drunken haze about five years ago. I thought it was crap." Not a surprising assessment from a self-proclaimed "Creep." But is the song autobiographical? Yorke says that's not
important: "I don't think people are really actually interested whether it's me or not. I mean they identify with the song, not with me."
And for all you creeps looking to bond with the main "Creep," Yorke says back off. "I get letters from people who obviously think I'm a creep," he says. "Therefore they think there must be something in my head they can relate to, and they try and get at it, and that really pisses me off. I mean I understand why, I wrote the song, but that doesn't mean people are allowed to get in my head."
Boy, what a creep. But then again, it takes one to know one.