In anticipation of the Radio’s Dead: A Tribute to Thom Yorke, happening Friday at 502 Bar, the Current spoke with some of the bands on the bill about their love of all things Yorke, as well as their own plans for covering his music. The full lineup is: Phonolux, Last Nighters, Lonely Horse, At War With Dust, Chris Maddin, The Offbeats, Bright Like the Sun.
What was the first Radiohead song you heard?
Nick Long (Lonely Horse singer/guitarist): “There There” was the first. It was a big deal for me when I was going through my divorce. I’d just go in my music room and listen to that record in the dark.
Chris Maddin (Blowing Trees singer/guitarist): I saw the music video for “Paranoid Android” and I begged my mom to take me to Blockbuster Music on Huebner and buy me OK Computer. It changed my life forever.
Miguel Romero (Phonolux guitarist): I’m sure it was in the mid-’90s with “Creep.” But, frankly, it was after listening to OK Computer several years later when I took notice. I remember being like, “Whoa, nobody is doing anything like this right now. This is the next thing.”
What are you planning to cover for the show?
Rob Fernández (vocals/guitar for Last Nighters): We’re going to be doing “Airbag” and “Paranoid Android,” just because they run together so great. And we’ll also be doing “The National Anthem.” Niem (Harris, keyboardist/vocalist) and I play the trombone, and Kendell (Merryman, guitarist) plays the saxophone, so we thought it’d be badass if we could do the horn part.
Romero: We’re playing “Bones,” “Morning Mr. Magpie,” “Bodysnatchers” and “There There.” We realized very quickly that we had to get two other guitarists for this. There’s just so much going on, that you have to have extra help.
Maddin: I’ve done a lot of Radiohead covers on guitar or with a band, but I wanted to switch it up for this show. So I’m planning on doing more the electronic Thom Yorke solo stuff, and some of the electronic Radiohead material.
Christian Miranda (guitar, Bright Like the Sun): Both Chris (Etheredge, guitar, keyboards) and I can sing, so we’re looking forward to getting some songs with challenging vocal parts to show everyone that we’re not just straight instrumentalists.
Long: I wanted to do “Lotus Flower” because I wanted people to wonder how we’d pull it off with guitar and drums. I wanted the challenge of the later, electronic stuff.
Have you ever had a dream with Thom Yorke in it?
Long: It was based on that one music video, I think it’s “Lotus Flower,” where he’s just dancing the whole time. Except it was me who was dancing in front of a mirror as Thom Yorke. And [Lonely Horse drummer] Travis [Hild] was also Thom Yorke, and a few other people in it were Thom Yorke. It was a weird-ass dream.
Maddin: I dreamed that I went to see them in The Woodlands (which is true), but that they knew me, and we were all hanging out. But it was kind of apocalyptic. I think it involved flying, too. Maybe Thom Yorke and I were holding hands and flying.
Fernández: Mine’s more of a daydream, but after I saw them live, I had dreams that I would get pulled backstage and end up talking with Thom and Jonny about [our] philosophies of life.
What's the toughest thing about performing these songs?
Maddin: The hardest thing for me is getting some of the notes that are in between notes. Jonny Greenwood is such a fan of the atonal, where you listen to something and [are] like, “What key was that in?” And Thom’s just got one of my favorite voices. Probably my favorite voice. The best voice for sure.
Miranda: Being an instrumental post-rock band, we play with a lot of fermata and crescendo. So does Radiohead to an extent, but they also have verse-chorus-verse, which is different for us.
Long: It’s going to be more exciting than ... a challenge. When you cover a song, you should make it your own depending on how the song makes you feel. I think his lyrics are very important, and my approach is going to be to emphasize those lyrics, and sing them with a little bit of my own soul in it.
If you could form a super-band with Thom Yorke and anyone else, who'd be in it?
Radio’s Dead: A Tribute to Thom Yorke
8pm Fri, Nov 22
502 Embassy Oaks