Thom Yorke previews new “dystopian” solo album

The Radiohead frontman also credits Flying Lotus for changing the way he thinks about recording music

Thom Yorke of Radiohead
Thom Yorke of Radiohead

    Thom Yorke is inching ever so closely to the release of his new solo album. The Radiohead frontman has been teasing the LP for months, and in a new interview with Crack, Yorke provided more insight into the album’s influences and creative process.

    Yorke said the as-yet-untitled album is inspired by his own ongoing anxieties as well as his fears about world events. He elaborated:

    “Have you ever flown to Tokyo? That jet lag is the definition of an existential crisis, every time. There was one night where I’d go to sleep, two hours later I’m absolutely wide awake and I just had these images… humans and rats changed places. A dream. And as I came out, I woke up with this really strong set of images of girls in tottering heels, but they’re actually rats and the human beings are in the drains. I had another one, these weird images of the city of London and all the skyscrapers are just shuffling along.

    The dystopian thing is one part of it, yes, but for me, one of the big, prevailing things was a sense of anxiety. 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. I had so many visual things going on at this point. Another one was where everybody was traveling 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.”


    Yorke also cited Flying Lotus as a major influence, explaining that the producer’s semi-improvized live shows changed the way he thinks about making music.

    “We suddenly realised this is a new way to write stuff. I would send [producer 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.”

    “At the beginning, it was terrifying. I was hiding behind the decks, pretending to sort of DJ, but it’s not like that because I’m also singing and occasionally playing guitar. There was a bit of a eureka moment at one show we did in Paris where there was a stage in front [of me] and I thought, ‘Oh, fuck this,” and I just ended up using the stage [to dance].’

    Elsewhere in the interview, Yorke reflected on the 20th anniversary of Kid A and teased the release of a “really cool” art book compiling material from the era.

    “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. 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.:


    You can read the full interview here. The album’s release will coincide with a string of upcoming live appearances, including a US festival slot at Austin City Limits in October.

    Recently, Yorke debuted his first-ever classic music composition, “Don’t Fear the Light”, as well as a new song called “Gawpers”. Take a listen to both pieces here.

    Thom Yorke 2019 Tour Dates:
    07/02 – Cologne, DE @ Palladium
    07/03 – Frankfurt, DE @ Jahrhunderthalle
    07/06 – Ewijk, NL @ Down The Rabbit Hole Festival
    07/07 – Paris, FR @ Philharmonie de Paris (Days Off Festival)
    07/08 – Paris, FR @ Philharmonie de Paris (Days Off Festival)
    07/11 – Bilbao, ES @ Bilbao BBK Live
    07/13 – Lisbon, PT @ NOS Alive Festival
    07/16 – Barolo, IT @ Collisioni Festival
    07/17 – Codroipo, IT @ Villa Manin
    07/17 – Ferrara, IT @ Piazza Castello
    07/20 – Perugia, IT @ Arena Santa Giuliana
    07/21 – Rome, IT @ Roma Summer Fest
    07/26-28 – Niigata, JP @ Fuji Rock Festival
    10/04-06 – Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits Music Festival
    10/11/13 – Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits Music Festival

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