Style and songwriting RadioHead lineup Reading Festival


Among Radiohead members’ earliest influences were Queen, Scott Walker, and Elvis Costello; post-punk acts such as Joy Division and Magazine, R.E.M., Pixies, The Smiths and Sonic Youth. By the mid-1990s, Radiohead began to mention an interest in electronic music, especially that of Massive Attack and the instrumental hip hop of DJ Shadow, which Radiohead claimed as an influence on parts of OK Computer.Other influences on the album were Miles Davis and Ennio Morricone, along with 1960s rock groups, such as The Beatles and The Beach Boys.Jonny Greenwood also cited composer Krzysztof Penderecki as an inspiration on the sound of OK Computer. The electronic style of Kid A and Amnesiac was the result of Thom Yorke’s admiration for glitch, ambient techno and IDM as exemplified by Warp Records artists such as Autechre and Aphex Twin.The jazz of Charles Mingus, Alice Coltrane, and Miles Davis, and 1970s Krautrock bands such as Can and Neu!, were other major influences during this period.Jonny Greenwood’s interest in 20th century classical music also had a role, as the influence of both Penderecki and composer Olivier Messiaen was apparent; for several songs on OK Computer and later albums, Greenwood has played the Ondes Martenot, an early electronic instrument popularised by Messiaen.While working on Hail to the Thief, Radiohead put renewed emphasis on guitar rock.The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and particularly Neil Young were reported sources of inspiration to the band during this period.Since beginning to record In Rainbows, Radiohead members have mentioned a variety of rock, electronic, hip hop and experimental musicians as influences, including Björk, Liars, Modeselektor, Spank Rock and M.I.A.

Since their formation Radiohead have lyrically been spearheaded by Yorke, but musically, songwriting is a collaborative effort, and it has been noted in interviews that all the band members have roles in the process.As a result, all the band’s songs are officially credited to “Radiohead”. The Kid A/Amnesiac sessions brought about a change in Radiohead’s musical style, and an even more radical change in the band’s working method.Since the band’s shift from standard rock music instrumentation toward an emphasis on electronic sound, band members have had greater flexibility and now regularly switch instruments depending on the particular song requirements.On Kid A and Amnesiac, Yorke played keyboard and bass, while Jonny Greenwood often played Ondes Martenot rather than guitar, bassist Colin Greenwood worked on sampling, and O’Brien and Selway branched out to drum machines and digital manipulations, also finding ways to incorporate their primary instruments, guitar and percussion, respectively, into the new sound.The relaxed 2003 recording sessions for Hail to the Thief led to a different dynamic in Radiohead, with Yorke admitting in interviews that “[his] power within the band was absolutely unbalanced and [he] would subvert everybody else’s power at all costs. But … it’s actually a lot more healthy now, democracy wise, than it used to be.”

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