Radiohead will 'Creep' into success

August 22, 1996|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,SUN POP MUSIC CRITIC

OXFORD, ENGLAND -- It's funny how sometimes a single will seem to take on a life of its own.

When Radiohead's "Creep" first crept onto the airwaves back in 1993, it took radio listeners completely by surprise. It wasn't just the dry, self-deprecating chorus ("I'm a creep, I'm a loser . . .") that did it; it was also the blast of overdriven guitar that went with each self-flagellating admission. In no time at all, this British quintet began to be known as the "Creep" band.

That was fine at the time, but over the years, things have gotten a little, well, creepy. For instance, there was the fan who suggested, via e-mail, that "Creep" was written about singer Thom Yorke's wife. "About my second wife," says the singer, retelling the alleged tale.

"It was after, like, a cocaine binge, your second wife committed suicide or something," adds guitarist/keyboardist Jon Greenwood. "Incredibly fanciful stuff."

How many wives has Yorke actually had? "Uh, none," he says, laughing.

Nor are such stories likely to go away soon, for "Creep" is the sort of song that just won't go away. Earlier this year, it was a Top-20 hit in France. "It's been on a film," explains Greenwood. "The radio stations, having been given the record two years ago, didn't like it. But now it's on a film, they do. Typical."

But that doesn't really bother the band, because Radiohead is seeing the same sort of continuing success with its most recent album, "The Bends." Even though the album was released in early 1995, there are still fans who are only just catching up with the band. "It's taken people a year to figure it out, and now they're sort of going, 'Wow!' Which is brilliant," says Yorke.

That happened in a big way in Britain this January, when "The Bends" -- which had been lying dormant for months -- leapt up the British pop charts after being named "Album of the Year" by several British music magazines. "I was away for four weeks, away from Britain, and when I got back, there's this totally different vibe about us as a band," says rhythm guitarist Ed O'Brien. "We were really being talked about."

These days, Radiohead is mainly being talked about because of the uniformly awesome performances it has offered on its current tour, opening for Alanis Morissette. In fact, those who have seen the band are often so impressed that they wonder why "The Bends" hasn't been a bigger success on this side of the Atlantic.

"I thought it was really funny, that people who liked the record would write, saying, 'Why isn't this record huge?' " says Yorke. "We're actually meeting journalists, who before used to [dismiss us] but now are like evangelists, saying, 'Why isn't this record huge?' That was -- it was a nice feeling!"

Still, Radiohead worries less about making it big than making good music. As O'Brien puts it, "I remember when we first signed, someone said, 'What agenda do you have? What's your agenda?' It was like, with British bands, there was this whole thing about having something to say. But, maybe naively, we said, 'It's about music.'

"So you haven't ever seen us mouthing off in the press about some kind of issue," he concludes. "I'd much rather people heard the music."

Radiohead

When: Tonight at 8

Where: Merriweather Post Pavilion

Tickets: $20 (lawn only)

Call: (410) 481-6500 for tickets, (410) 730-2424 for information

Sundial: To hear excerpts from Radiohead's new release, "The Bends," call Sundial at (410) 783-1800 and enter the code 6190. For other local Sundial numbers, see the directory on Page 2A.

Pub Date: 8/22/96

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