Radiohead are gearing up to release a 20th anniversary reissue of their landmark album OK Computer called OKNOTOKCOMPUTER, featuring b-sides and three unreleased tracks that fans have been salivating over for two decades, this month. If it seems unusual for a band as nostalgia-averse as Radiohead to suddenly dip into their archives for something like this, then you'll be equally (and pleasantly) surprised by their intimate interview with Rolling Stone regarding the reissue, in which the band opens up about the turmoil of making the album, and we learn what sticker Thom Yorke has on his iPhone.

While the album and band have been praised for their forward-leaning musings on the inescapability of technology (something which has only proven more prophetic in the years since), Yorke reveals that the main thrust behind the album's unique paranoia was more a symptom of the isolation and loneliness of being on tour for several years with barely any breaks.

"The paranoia I felt at the time was much more related to how people related to each other," Yorke explained. "But I was using the terminology of technology to express it. Everything I was writing was actually a way of trying to reconnect with other human beings when you're always in transit. That's what I had to write about because that's what was going on, which in itself instilled a kind of loneliness and disconnection."

"I was basically catatonic. The claustrophobia—just having no sense of reality at all," he added. "Back then, the person I saw in the mirror kept saying, 'You're shit. Everything you do is shit. Don't do that. It's shit.'"

The whole thing is worth reading, but below, we've picked out some highlights:

  • The band tried out OK material while opening for Alanis Morissette on her Jagged Little Pill tour in 1995: "My main memory of that tour," said Jonny Greenwood, "is playing interminable hand-organ solos to an audience full of quietly despairing teenage girls." Yorke added, "We were well adept at playing to people that didn't give a rat's ass about us. I used to quite enjoy it. People are sitting down to their chicken dinners. We were trying to get them to choke on the bones."
  • The title for the album came while the band was listening to an audio version of Douglas Adams' classic, A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "Midway through the book, a spaceship computer says it's incapable of fending off incoming missiles. 'OK, computer,' responds galactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox, 'I want full manual control now.'"
  • Yorke really hates cars: "People get up too early to leave houses where they don't want to live, to drive to jobs where they don't want to be, in one of the most dangerous forms of transport on Earth. I've never gotten used to that."
  • Yorke took advice from ghosts about his hair length while working on the record at St. Catherine's Court: "Ghosts would talk to me while I was asleep... There was one point where I got up in the morning after a night of hearing voices and decided I had to cut my hair."
  • The album were deeply influenced by Miles Davis' Bitches Brew, but they hated Brit Pop: "It just leads to pastiche," said Greenwood. "It's you wishing it was another era. But as soon as you go down that route, you might as well be a Dixieland jazz band, really."
  • Producer Nigel Godrich has the best one-liner description of Radiohead's music I've ever read: "This was not Neanderthal rock & roll."
  • Yorke explains the story behind the lyrics of "The Tourist": "Everything was about speed when I wrote those songs," Yorke said. "I had a sense of looking out a window at things moving so fast I could barely see. One morning in Germany I was feeling particularly paranoid because I hadn't slept well. I walked out to find something to eat, but I couldn't find anything, and this fucking dog was barking at me. I'm staring at this dog, and everyone else is carrying on. That's where 'hey, man, slow down' comes from. It sounds like it's all about technology and stuff, but it's not."
  • The band briefly touch on A Moon Shaped Pool, which was shaped by the pain of Yorke's separation from his partner of 23 years, Rachel Owens (who died last December). "There was a lot of difficult stuff going on at the time, and it was a tough time for us as people," said Yorke. "It was a miracle that that record got made at all."
  • The subsequent tour has been very "joyful" however, and Yorke is even open to recording live as a band for the first time since 1997: “I’ve always been extreme about resisting us being a drum-guitar-bass band,” he said. "But if that’s what people want to try, I’m too old to be standing there with a hammer and saying, ‘We must do this, we must do that!’ I would like everyone to feel free. But, you know, it’s not easy."
  • And lastly, that aforementioned sticker on Yorke's iPhone "sums up his response to nearly every conceivable query: 'Fuck what you heard.'"