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EPISODE 10

From the beginning, Radiohead kept their focus on the future. When critics heralded OK Computer as the savior of rock, Radiohead renounced the genre and turned to the electronic sounds of Kid A. When the band perfected a hybrid acoustic sound in In Rainbows, they pivoted next to the digital loops and polyrhythms of The King of Limbs. Every record was an opportunity to experiment and to reinvent themselves.

So when fans heard the reflective tone of Radiohead's ninth studio album, several wondered if it was their last. Instead of heralding the band's next move, the record offered a thoughtful rumination on their 24 years together. A bookend to their story.

In this episode Pitchfork Senior Editor Ryan Dombal and I will explore A Moon Shaped Pool's reckoning with the past through the "Daydreaming" music video. Although this video spawned numerous fan theories, we'll condense these ideas into three distinct lenses of interpretation. We'll discuss why this open-endedness is one of the video's greatest strengths and what it reveals about Radiohead's attitude towards their fans.

 
 

TRANSCRIPT

[00:00:00] Savannah Wright: [00:00:00] This is Fake Plastic Podcast, a podcast that unlocks the alchemy of Radiohead — one song, music video, or live performance at a time. My name is Savannah Wright.

[00:00:12] From the beginning, Radiohead kept their focus on the future. When critics heralded OK Computer as the savior of rock, Radiohead renounced the genre and turned to the electronic sounds of Kid A. When the band perfected a hybrid acoustic sound in In Rainbows, [00:00:30] they pivoted next to the digital loops and poly rhythms of The King of Limbs.

[00:00:35] Every record was an opportunity to experiment and to reinvent themselves. So when fans heard the reflective tone of Radiohead's ninth studio album, several wondered if it was their last. Instead of heralding the band's next move, the record offered a thoughtful rumination on their 24 years together. A bookend to their story.

[00:00:57] In a thread about the [00:01:00] subject on the Radiohead subreddit, a user called sun pen asserts that A Moon Shaped Pool reflects the span of Radiohead's entire career because it contains sonic and lyrical references to virtually all their albums — even as far back as Pablo Honey. Assembled together, these references form the arc of someone's life or career. Then there's the album title and artwork of A Moon Shaped Pool. Quote, a Crescent moon is an arc, a pool of memories, close quote.

[00:01:27] Ryan Dombal: [00:01:27] And if you look at something like "Daydreaming," it [00:01:30] definitely seems to support that theory. Also having seen them on that tour, I saw them in the Madison square garden last year. And you did  get that feeling like of this kind of retrospective vibe. Uh, that was really interesting as.

[00:01:47] You know, I feel like Radiohead's always, has always been a band that has had a prickly relationship with their own past. Um, and I feel like that goes back to, you know, not playing [00:02:00] "Creep", uh, after that became a hit for a while. And then, you know, just the fact that the, their albums or something like Kid A are just so different than from what came before that. Um, you know, they, they, more than most bands, they have a tendency to kind of destroy, uh, rather than. You know destroy themselves rather than just like repeating what they've done before.

[00:02:23] Um, and I feel like Moon Shaped Pool was a great way to kind of have it both [00:02:30] ways. And I feel like the "Daydreaming" video  does that as well in that it has all these references to, you know, things they've done in the past, but it also feels new. Um, and it still feels powerful. It doesn't just feel like, uh, an act of nostalgia.

[00:02:45] Savannah Wright: [00:02:45] This is Ryan Dombal, senior editor at Pitchfork. A few years ago, he wrote a piece called "This is What You Get: An Oral History of Radiohead's 'Karma Police'". So he is no stranger to analyzing and discussing Radiohead's music videos.

[00:02:59] Ryan [00:03:00] discovered Radiohead through alternative radio around the time of their second album, The Bends. He said he liked how their music was a little weirder than the other bands on those stations, like Stone Temple Pilots or Pearl Jam.

[00:03:12] But when OK Computer came out, he wondered if Radiohead had become too weird.

[00:03:17] Ryan Dombal: [00:03:17] I was like, this isn't , this isn't music. And, you know, but eventually I came around on it. And now at this point, it's, you know, one of my [00:03:30] favorite albums and little did I know how much weirder things were going to get.

[00:03:36] Um, but yeah, for me, for me, Radiohead really is that band that I can point to, the one band that really opened my ears in a lot of ways. Like away from the radio, um, and into things that were a bit odder, things that might've been like a bit more cerebral, just like moving beyond pop. Um, which I still, I really enjoy pop too, [00:04:00] but. Just to hint at this idea that there's all this other, all these other sources of music out there, um, is  is really powerful. And I feel like, you know, they are that band for a lot of people and including me.

[00:04:14] Savannah Wright: [00:04:14] In this episode, we'll explore A Moon Shaped Pool's reckoning with the past, through the "Daydreaming" music video. Although this video spawned numerous fan theories, we'll condense these ideas into three distinct lenses of interpretation. We'll discuss why this open-endedness is [00:04:30] one of the video's greatest strengths and what it reveals about Radiohead's attitude towards their fans.

[00:04:39] (clip from "Daydreaming" intro)

[00:04:39] The "Daydreaming" music video premiered on May 6th, 2016, two days before Radiohead released A Moon Shaped Pool. Directed by Academy Award nominee Paul Thomas Anderson, the video follows Thom Yorke as he walks through a series of doors that lead into various locations: a hospital, a home, a laundromat, a [00:05:00] parking garage.

[00:05:01] Ryan Dombal: [00:05:01] It's this kind of simple, but effective, a special effect, I guess, where, you know, he's walking, he's walking through a door in one kind of area, whether it's, you know, the hallway or a car garage, and then he opens the door and it cuts to an entirely different scene. It's just a matter of editing, but it feels like a special effect. I don't know. To me, it's more, it captures more imagination, just like that one bit of editing, than a lot of the biggest like CGI and whatever [00:05:30] effects that you see in a film.

[00:05:32] So yes, at its core, it's a very simple idea. But where it gets interesting is just the intricacies in each shot, which seemingly are many.

[00:05:45] Savannah Wright: [00:05:45] All of these seemingly unrelated locations are tied together through Thom's movement. Rather than wander casually through each scene, he walks purposely forward. He avoids the exit signs. He doesn't turn back at the end of the video. [00:06:00] He scales an icy mountain, crawls into a cave, and collapses exhausted next to a small campfire.

[00:06:08] Um, and then you mentioned Paul Thomas Anderson directing it. Are you familiar with his work?

[00:06:14] Ryan Dombal: [00:06:14] Yeah. Yeah. I've been a fan of his for a long time. It's funny. I feel like I became a fan of his around the same time that I became a Radiohead fan. I feel like they've had similar timelines, um, as far as their careers.

[00:06:28] But that said, [00:06:30] if you told me in the nineties that, you know, the guy who directed Boogie Nights would have, would be like Radiohead's  go-to video director, I probably wouldn't have believed you. You know, it just seemed like a stretch at that time, but I feel like they've done a lot of good work together recently.

[00:06:49] Savannah Wright: [00:06:49] Yeah. Yeah. So, because you are familiar with his work, do you, did you notice any parallels between the themes of this  music video and those of Anderson's films?

[00:06:59] Ryan Dombal: [00:06:59] That's a good [00:07:00] question. I feel like maybe more stylistically in that, you know, he's pretty famous for doing those tracking shots where it's just kind of, you know, it's like one long scene. Obviously there's cuts in this, in this music video, but it is kind of. The way it's presented does make it seem continuous. Um, the way he's like walking through the door is. It makes it seem like it's this one walk, really. Like one stroll.

[00:07:28] Um, as far as [00:07:30] like his themes in his movies, I honestly haven't really thought about that. Uh, yeah, there's a lot of themes between the, relationship between someone's art and love like romantic love and how those things kind of don't mix sometimes. Uh, you know, the idea of like a tortured genius. Um, you could say, uh, you know, from There Will Be Blood like somebody like that character who's really hell bent [00:08:00] on doing one thing or.

[00:08:03] You know, in Magnolia there's a lot of different characters that, you know, there's a lot of different scenes and, and, uh, scenarios that are kind of spliced together. Which has a little bit of, a little bit of a similar feel with this video, with the different locations that he's walking through.

[00:08:18] Savannah Wright: [00:08:18] Considering the influence of the director is just one of several lenses we can use to understand this video. But after looking through the Radiohead subreddit and watching a Vimeo film called "The Secrets of Daydreaming", there seem to be three major lenses through which fans interpret this video.

[00:08:35] The first is an environmental lens that suggests "Daydreaming" is about the catastrophic effects of climate change. The second lens suggests that "Daydreaming" is a walk through Radiohead's past because it contains multiple visual references to the band's other videos and album artwork. And the third more personal lens argues that "Daydreaming" is a comment on Thom's split with his longtime partner, Rachel Owen.

[00:09:00] [00:09:00] We'll start with the simplest of the three, the environmental lens. To make a case for this interpretation, Reddit user rabbit with headlights brought up the following evidence. In the lyrics, Thom sings, 'They never learn beyond the point of no return. It's too late. The damage is done.'

[00:09:19] He ascends in several scenes, which may refer to rising sea levels. At the end of the video, he escapes to a mountain to begin the next ice age, as prophesied by "Idioteque," [00:09:30] and throughout the entire video, Thom walks through 23 doors.

[00:09:34] And that the 23 doors could be a connection to the 2.3 meters sea level increase per degree Celsius, which I thought was pretty intense.

[00:09:43] Ryan Dombal: [00:09:43] [laughs] Wow.

[00:09:46] Savannah Wright: [00:09:46] Do you agree with any of that?

[00:09:51] Ryan Dombal: [00:09:51] Well, to be honest, I feel like that is the worst one, the worst interpretation. Um, it's a stretch. [00:10:00] Um, I mean, I'm sure, you know, there's some, I mean, obviously Thom Yorke has been involved in that sort of thing for a long time.

[00:10:07] But at the same time. Yeah. He is like a, such an interesting contradiction that. I feel like he represents a lot of us, or people can relate to this idea of, you know, you want to save the planet. Um, you want to help the environment, but at the end of the day, you're all, you also know that it won't happen.

[00:10:26] Um, I don't know if that's too like defeatist, but [00:10:30] that does seem to be his general perspective. You know, you want to do these good things and you want people to understand, but at the same time, you also like are aware of human nature. And, you know, you understand that that it's, it is at its core kind of destructive too.

[00:10:50] Um, but anyway, for this particular video, like I don't, I'm not that into that theory.

[00:10:58] Savannah Wright: [00:10:58] Yeah, I agree. I mean, [00:11:00] I think when you consider, like you said, Radiohead's stance on climate change in the past, you could say that, but I don't think that's the message here because there are too many other messages that we want to unpack.

[00:11:11] So let's do that. Let's go on to the the theory that this is a peek into Radiohead's history. So firstly, you did an oral history of "Karma Police" for Pitchfork back in 2017. Do you see any motifs here from that particular music video?

[00:11:27] Ryan Dombal: [00:11:27] Yeah. Um, a little bit. I was thinking about their [00:11:30] videos in general, and I feel like the there's a similarity in that they're both like extremely open-ended in that you can really glean whatever, a lot of different interpretations. You know, Radiohead is really good at that  in general. I feel like at first maybe they kind of fell into that idea. There, cause you know, some of the vagueness of his lyrics or just his delivery in that you can't fully under. He doesn't articulate [00:12:00] his words. At first, it's just like, that's how he did it. That's just how he naturally, you know, wrote and sang.

[00:12:08] But I feel like at some point they realized that that is. They can use that to their advantage in some way. Um, You know, to make it something that's more intriguing, which I think a lot of the best art, you know,  does. You know, it has this ambiguity. It's not, it's not preaching. It's not telling you what to think. And that's probably why I'm a little bit skeptical of the climate change thing. Just because it [00:12:30] feels a little bit kind of, I don't know, like soap boxy, but.

[00:12:34] Well, so "Karma Police" it's, you know, it's, it's interesting because it's, you know, there's this villain and it's this  morality tale of like David and Goliath. Um, you know, this guy is being chased by, or being run down by a car. And then at the end, he kind of lit the car on fire. You know, you could really do any interpretation that you want. Um, Which, and, you know, a lot of it is just boils down to [00:13:00] the cinematography and just how it looks. You know, it just looks really cool. And that's what, uh, kind of puts it over the top and makes it meaningful.

[00:13:11] And, you know, to an extent you could say the same thing about this video, because there's a fine line between something that's abstract, but intriguing and like abstract and boring or just distancing or there's like nothing to hang on to. So it's just like this kind of blob.

[00:13:29] And they [00:13:30] both have pretty decent acting performances by Thom Yorke, who's not, you know, not known for his acting. I was watching that "Daydreaming" video. It's funny. Like I just, I . They'll probably never really talk about this video. We actually tried to do an interview with anybody really who was involved in it. Um, but they, they weren't. No one wanted to talk about it. Um, but yeah, you know, cause in certain scenes he [00:14:00] has like kind of a little smirk and then certain scenes, he looks very serious. I just wonder, like, what is the, what was the direction there?

[00:14:06] Like, Whoa, you know, it's like, you feel like these things have meaning. Um, I don't know. Maybe nobody will ever know, but that's kind of, you know, that's part of the beauty of it.

[00:14:17] Savannah Wright: [00:14:17] Yeah, definitely. And that's interesting you mentioned the facial expressions because some of the fans have read into those too thinking like, Oh, they parallel this facial expression in "Fake Plastic Trees" and things like that.

[00:14:30] [00:14:30] So yeah. Let's keep going. What other images or sets in "Daydreaming" did, did you think allude to Radiohead's discography?

[00:14:37] Ryan Dombal: [00:14:37] Well, one of them, I thought it was. Yeah. There's one moment where he's thinking about, you know, this goes beyond me and it goes beyond you. And like when I saw them live, that was pretty clearly like a message, at least in concert, like to the fans, um, which I thought was heart-warming. Um, kind of like as a [00:15:00] tribute to the fans.

[00:15:01] And in the video, when he sings those lines, he's in a elevator and. Now I feel like I'm like getting into that crackpot, uh, theory territory. But he's in the elevator, and it did remind me of the song "Lift," which is kind of like a fan favorite that was never properly released until very recently. And, you know, like something like that, it's like 'was that purposeful?' It's hard to say.

[00:15:28] Um, but to me is, you [00:15:30] know, someone who's, uh, who's been a fan knows these intricacies. It was something that popped into my head. And, you know, that's really all that matters. Like whether they actually meant it or not is kind of inconsequential because a lot of it is about your own relationship to the music and the history of the band.

[00:15:50] And, you know, that's, to me, that's really the powerful part about the videos. You know, the theories are definitely interesting, and I've read [00:16:00] a lot of Reddit threads about them. Um, just the fact that they made this, this video that opens itself to all those interpretations. You know, like has the possibility to be interpreted like. You know, like they put all these details in. Maybe not every single one is like totally purposeful, but, um, that's what so masterful to me that it allows itself to be interpreted in all these different ways.

[00:16:26] Um, and I feel like they've gotten so good at that. [00:16:30] Like we did another article a couple of years ago. This writer, Jeremy Gordon wrote an article for us called "Internet Explorers" that was kind of about Radiohead's history with the Internet and like Radiohead fans across the age and how they changed and how they, you know, used to be on message boards and like fan sites and now they're on Reddit.

[00:16:49] And one of the points that was really good from that piece was, uh, an early Radiohead website was just basically blank. Like it just said like 'this is Radiohead's website.' It's from the [00:17:00] nineties. And just that idea of, you know, simplicity, blankness, um, that, you know, fans can kind of project their own theories onto is very powerful. And I feel like they are real masters of it.

[00:17:17] And for this video, when they are. You know, I think it's pretty hard to deny that, you know, there's definitely some purpose to these references, like these visual references, um, that remind you of, you know, the Kid A cover [00:17:30] or other videos that they have done. Um, to do that but in like this classy way, that's not just like, super obvious, like, 'Oh, here's like, you know, the cov, literally the cover of like, we're just putting it in the video.'

[00:17:45] To do it, to do it in this way. It's hard. Like, I just, I can't think of a lot of other artists that could pull something like that off and yeah, that to me is really the most, the best thing about the video.

[00:17:58] Savannah Wright: [00:17:58] Yeah, that's really true that they [00:18:00] do it so subtly, but so it's, it makes you question. Did they really intend that? Or are we just projecting? But I do like the idea that the fans can, can make of it what they want. And I am going to touch on that one last time, uh, when we conclude.

[00:18:14] But I just wanted to ask, do you feel that this, um, this interpretation of the video as reflecting on Radiohead's history, do you think it's strong or do you think there are some weaknesses to it?

[00:18:26] Ryan Dombal: [00:18:26] Um, no, I think that's pretty, that seems pretty solid. Especially [00:18:30] like looking, if you really do delve into some of the Reddit, you know, the kind of side to side references of, uh, you know, the various visuals across their career. Like the very beginning kind of looks like the beginning of the OK Computer album cover. Um, there's just too many that it's not purposeful, at least at least, um.

[00:18:54] And, but, you know, it's, but it's cool. Cause they're not exact, like they're not exact replicas. They're just like [00:19:00] nodding to it. Um, which it's almost like this subliminal thing. You know, like when I first watched the video, I just honestly didn't really catch any of them.

[00:19:11] Savannah Wright: [00:19:11] Yeah,same.

[00:19:14] Ryan Dombal: [00:19:14] So yeah, I had to watch it like four or five times and I was like, Oh wow. You know, and then I started reading articles about it and like kind of delving into that rabbit hole. So. Just that act of discovery is, you know, it's fun. Um, it's like a little bit of a treasure hunt, [00:19:30] um, which is always, it's just always exciting.

[00:19:32] And then it just has this kind of additional power, because, and then you think back to when you first heard Kid A and you know. Like, like I remember I bought Kid A.  This is a time when there were still CDs, like people still bought CDs. Um, you know, like a midnight sale, like in the town where I went to college and me and eight other nerds, like lining up for this album. [laughs]

[00:19:58] Um, [00:20:00] it's just this video does a, such a great job of kind of exploiting that relationship that fans have with the band. Exploiting is kind of like, I don't know, that has a negative connotation, but you just taking advantage of that relationship, I guess. Um, In this way, that, that gives you these little, you know, leads you to these little memories that you have.

[00:20:22] Well it's kind of like actual memory too where, right? Because it's like, you know, it's not like everything you've ever experienced you have [00:20:30] a video of you know, like a clear photo. It's like, you know, years go by and things turn in a bit hazy and you know, they blur and I feel like they blur together and I feel like that's what, you know, you could argue like this. That's what the video is too. It's like one door leads to another and next thing you know, curled up inside a cave dying [laughs]

[00:20:54] Savannah Wright: [00:20:54] In a nutshell there it is.. Yeah, no, that's. I, again, like what you were saying [00:21:00] about, um, how, how it's a tribute to the fans and those memories.

[00:21:05] The third lens is personal to Thom as it grapples with his split from his partner of 23 years, Dr. Rachel Owen. In August of 2015, Owen and York announced their separation in a statement.

[00:21:16] Quote after 23 highly creative and happy years, for various reasons we have gone our separate ways. It's perfectly amicable and has been common knowledge for some time.

[00:21:27] When A Moon Shaped Pool was released less than a year later, [00:21:30] fans attributed its themes of grief and lost love to their separation. So naturally the "Daydreaming" video played into these themes.

[00:21:39] This fan theory focuses on Thom's outfit — which was designed by Rick Owens, a name similar to Thom's partner; when the video is released: Mother's Day weekend; the fact that mothers, children, and domestic scenes appear frequently in Thom's walk; and the 23 doors Thom walks through, representing their 23 years together.

[00:21:59] Ryan Dombal: [00:21:59] That reading [00:22:00] seems pretty strong to me as well.

[00:22:02] I do I do personally, like the idea that kind of going through their own history as a band. Because just because it's Radiohead, they're not, you know, they've never been in a band that. Like a tabloid band that, you know, you know, everything about who they're dating, who they're married to, whatever their kid. You know, it's not like they're on People Magazine like showing their kids off.

[00:22:23] But you know, at the same time they obviously have lives and tragedies and triumphs, like, uh. [00:22:30] And that obviously informs their music as well, but it's never been uh paramount to the music. You know, it's like, Thom Yorke's  not writing story songs, like based on his life that are like very clearly legible.

[00:22:45] So, so yeah, I feel like, you know, I'm sure that is involved. Um, and you know, the fact that his partner did pass away, I think two months after the video came out. Um, and I believe she had [00:23:00] cancer. Is that right? So you have something kind of cataclysmic  like that happens in your life, it does cause you to reflect. I feel like that's probably part of what the album is about as well.

[00:23:13] And, you know, and they, they had separated, uh, around the time of the album. So, yeah, I, you know, I think that does tie into the kind of idea of looking back at what you've done, maybe what you wanted to do differently.

[00:23:26] That did strike me in that a lot of the scenes in the video [00:23:30] are of, you know, domestic tasks or whether it's kids in the living room or, you know, like at the dry cleaner or the, at the laundry mat, um, or in the kitchen. And it did seem like that maybe he's talking about, they're just kind of talking about moments in his kids' life or his partner's life that he wasn't there for? You know, like he wasn't, he was on tour and he was like recording. Because that's the thing. Like in the video, no one actually reacts to his presence. [00:24:00] So he's there, but he's not there. Um, you know, which I think is. I feel like that has something to do with it as well.

[00:24:08] And, you know, and you know, that ties in with the idea of the history of the band, because if you're this person on stage. You're Thom Yorke, a rock star. Even though, you know, he's not like the Motley Crue rockstar, but he's still like a variation of a rockstar. Um, and then, you know, at the end of the day, he's. Tour ends [00:24:30] and he's in a house, you know, doing house things. Uh, so yeah, I feel like there's inevitably going to be some friction there between those two things.

[00:24:41] And then with this video, it almost feels like he's kind of longing for, to have those moments that he maybe had missed along the way.

[00:24:49] Savannah Wright: [00:24:49] Yeah, no, I like that synthesis of Radiohead history and his history with his wife and his family. Um, because it kind of ties into the end [00:25:00] where he says this phrase in reverse, and there's kind of some arguments about what it is, but a lot of people seem to agree that it's 'half of my love, half of my life.'

[00:25:07] So his time with Rachel was his time in Radiohead, like they're inseparable.

[00:25:16] (end of "Daydreaming" plays)

[00:25:16] If you watch "The Secrets of Daydreaming" video by Rishi Kaneria, he shows how reversing the entire video provides a more hopeful message for Thom. In that version, Thom descends from the mountain, finds all [00:25:30] the exits, and disappears into a white light at the end — suggesting that hindsight might've allowed him to make the best decisions.

[00:25:39] For casual listeners, these theories may seem like a stretch, over complicating what would otherwise be a simple video. But I believe Radiohead crafted "Daydreaming" with their fans in mind. Fans who pour over every lyric, read every interview, and listen to every demo to better understand the band's work.

[00:26:00] [00:25:59] So this is maybe a personal question, but I've, I had a very visceral reaction to this video once I really understood it better. How did this music video make you feel as a fan of Radiohead?

[00:26:11] Ryan Dombal: [00:26:11] Um, it made me feel kind of sad. But in a, not in a like, depressing way. More of just like I'm getting old way [laughs].

[00:26:24] Um, personally, cause it's similar to. You know, I was talking about that [00:26:30] concert that I went, that I went to, and it was just like such a joy to see that. Cause, you know, they seem like they're ha they're having a great time playing these old songs, which, you know, hasn't always been the case like with this band. And people were very into it and you know, they played the new songs too. And like, those sounded great also. Um, so it wasn't just like you're seeing this greatest hits thing.

[00:26:51] But for some of the most ecstatic moments, uh, in the concert. You know  I mean, I mean, honestly, [00:27:00] I kind of like teared up a little bit. Like not even, it wasn't even a sad song. Like it was like, uh, I guess you could argue all Radiohead songs are kind of sad.

[00:27:13]Savannah Wright: [00:27:13] Which one was it?

[00:27:15] Ryan Dombal: [00:27:15] I think they might've done like "My Iron Lung" or something. Uh, and you know, just pretty like upbeat, like rock song, old one. And it just like, honestly, it just kind of brought me back to the other [00:27:30] times that I've seen them play that. Like I remember I went to, I flew to England to go like there. They did this festival, like in Oxford, in the early, I forget exactly when it was, but it was like early two thousands.

[00:27:41] I've obviously listened to their music throughout my entire life. And that's something that you can't replicate. That experience. There's just like being there through somebody's life. And, and they've been that band for so many people.

[00:27:56] And I feel like there's a lot of times bands when they get to the age of [00:28:00] where Radiohead is. It's more of just a, 'we're going to play these songs that you liked as a teenager. So you kind of remember what it was like to be a teenager.' And then like you buy your whatever $15 beer and leave. You know, for them, it's not that easy. Uh, it's more complicated. It's richer because there's, you know, there's more joy to it.

[00:28:22] Like to me, that kind of 'our greatest hits' thing might be kind of enjoyable in the moment, but it's like leaves this like [00:28:30] pretty bad aftertaste. In that these people, like haven't been able to think of anything new. And then you, you project yourself onto that. And you're like, 'Oh, like, will I be able to think of something new? You know, like if you're a creative person or whatever. Like, whatever you do, you want to be moving forward in some respect.

[00:28:51] You know, with Radiohead, it's like we have these great moments in the past, and then we're still doing it. Now we can do both like at the same [00:29:00] time. And that is. It's like very hopeful to me, like for a band that's known, you know, kind of caricatured as being this like depressing dour, you know, British rock band. That that concert and this video too, there's like a real hope to it in that people can live with their past and not be, not have it dictate to them? Um, if that makes sense.

[00:29:29] It's really [00:29:30] nice. To me, the video's like, it's a really nice tribute to everybody who stuck with them while offering, you know, something that feels new and makes you want to stick with them for another.

[00:29:44] Savannah Wright: [00:29:44] Yeah, it is. It does take you down memory lane and to consider, uh, Radiohead's history but also, I guess the band as humans with their own personal lives. It, it, it made me feel a little bit guilty that they maybe missed out [00:30:00] on some of that stuff for the band. But also appreciative because that music helped me through so many other things. So it was kind of this, uh, tenuous relationship. This music video for me.

[00:30:12] Ryan Dombal: [00:30:12] Yeah. That's interesting to me that it made you feel guilty. Um, I didn't quite think of it that way because. Well, one thing is that makes a lot of sense, but because what you were saying about the exit signs, um. To me, [00:30:30] like those kind of represent at any point, I feel like the band could have broken up. I feel like they've been. There have been rumors of them breaking up for a long time. Um, and you know, they never did that.

[00:30:41] And, and this was. Another detail was like, in the video he's always ascending. Uh, you get the, you get the sense that he's always like walking upstairs, like walking up the mountain. And I feel like that's also kind of parallels, you know, their career in some ways.

[00:30:58] Or like, you [00:31:00] know, music careers, where you're like, you're just kind of going for the next you know. You want to go platinum and then you want a Grammy and then you want to headline Coachella. And it's like all these different plateaus or, you know, all these different things to achieve, but they have this perspective where they've done it all. Like they, you know, they've. I don't know what else they could do as a band.

[00:31:24] In fact, I. Did you see that they're going to be nominated for like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this [00:31:30] year? They're going to be inducted. Um, I saw, we did a news story about how their reactions to it or whether they're going to go or not. And like almost every member basically said. Like, I'm not, I don't want to go. Like, why would I go to that?

[00:31:47] So, you know, this thing that most, you know, 95% of rock bands would be thrilled to be involved in. Um, they don't really care, which, [00:32:00] which yeah, it makes sense. It's like what? I mean, why you know. I don't feel like they need somebody to tell them that they are good enough at this point?

[00:32:10] Savannah Wright: [00:32:10] Yeah, no, that's true. I don't think they've cared that much about critics, but I do feel like they have had a devotion to their fans. And they have what they want and they have a very dedicated fan base. And I think that's what this uh, this music video also encapsulated for me is that they were giving, just as you were saying, like they were giving them something [00:32:30] ambiguous that they could pick apart and really analyze. And, and that's what they wanted to do. Right. And radio had fans love to pick apart and analyze things cause it's cerebral music. They like to be challenged.

[00:32:40] Um, is there, is there anything else that you want to add about, I guess the relationship between this, Radiohead and their fans, and what this music video says about it?

[00:32:50] Ryan Dombal: [00:32:50] To me it's just really. It's a show of like mutual respect. Um, and I feel like that really comes through just in the, you know, the production [00:33:00] value of the video. I feel like a lot of bands nowadays, even bands that are, you know, that I like or artists that I like.

[00:33:06] You know, like somebody like Aphex Twin. He does a lot of mysterious quote unquote stuff you know to  rile up like his devoted fans, but. You know, with some of that, you know, like dropping a clue, like in a message board and, uh, leads to something else. Like, it feels like this. It's like a contrived puzzle um, that is [00:33:30] just, it's not emotional. Like it doesn't move me. It's just like, you know, a video game or something.

[00:33:37] Um, so yeah, to take that idea, that kind of puzzle idea and actually make something that is, you know, really enjoyable and you can have these like rich emotions with it, and you're never going to get the answer. Like there's no ending to, you know, no one will ever solve it, like, you know, fully. Um, yeah, that's [00:34:00] more, this is more exciting, like for me, and I do feel like that shows like a respect that Radiohead shows,  was giving to their fans, that they will spend the time to, you know, pour over this video.

[00:34:13] But at the same time, they're not gonna. Not. It doesn't feel like a game as much as almost a gift or something.

[00:34:21] Savannah Wright: [00:34:21] Yeah, no, I agree. I think it's because if it were a game, it would have a concrete answer. And as you were saying earlier, this video has so [00:34:30] much ambiguity, so it's, it's more of a gift in that way.

[00:34:33] Um, before we end, I just wanted to share my favorite satirical interpretation of this music video that I found while looking around on Reddit. Reddit users, Sam Louie, he or she says "in 'Morning Bell' Thom asked someone where they parked the car. In 'Daydreaming' he's still looking for it."

[00:34:54] (Ryan laughs)

[00:34:54] Ryan Dombal: [00:34:54] Yes. That could be, that could be, that could be the entire meaning of the [00:35:00] video, which would be, which would be a nice prank as well. Yeah. I mean, I love, I love reading about stuff like that and going through yeah, the Reddit threads for things like this. It's fun. It's just, you know, it allows people like to show their own creativity, you know, by making these connections, you know, it turns everybody into a critic in a way,

[00:35:27] (clip from "Daydreaming"q)

[00:35:27] Savannah Wright: [00:35:27] Finding ourselves at the end of the story, we return to the [00:35:30] beginning. To A Moon Shaped Pool. The Reddit user I quoted earlier, Sun Pen, suggested that the record reflects the arc of Radiohead's career. That statement is literally true with tracks years in the making, like "Burn the Witch" from the Kid A sessions or "True Love Waits" from as early as 1995.

[00:35:48] But in A Moon Shaped Pool, Radiohead doesn't simply recapitulate the past. They learn from it. They mature.

[00:35:55] Ryan Dombal: [00:35:55] You know, this idea of, OK Computer, how, you know, [00:36:00] Radiohead was pretty brash as far as being again. Conformity, uh, you know, you think of a song like "Fitter Happier" or "No Surprises" where it's like, you know, kind of damning this idea of just like living in a suburban house and having kids. And, you know, this is like the death of society sort of thing.

[00:36:19] Um, and then with a video like this, and I feel like A Moon Shaped Pool in general, um, it's just a much more zen outlook on things. Just like a much more mature outlook where it's [00:36:30] like, people are doing this kind of to get by. Like, it's not evil, it's not evil to, to, you know, to do these mundane things like wash your clothes. It's actually can be kind of therapeutic.

[00:36:45] And I like to think that that's a little bit of what I got of it too. Someone who's also grown up with the band, um, you know, has gotten older. Uh it's you know, it's just one of those things that you kind of, you do come to terms with, to a degree [00:37:00] yeah, not to say that everyone needs to conform to this whatever, like idea of Western society or whatever society you live in.

[00:37:07] But I think it does open you up to different perspectives and, and even Radiohead, uh, softened up a bit.

[00:37:15] Savannah Wright: [00:37:15] Reflecting on that evolution. I think about how those years transformed me like they transformed the band. I think about what has changed since my sister slid The Bends into the CD player of our old minivan, and I heard "Planet Telex" for the first time. [00:37:30] Since I loaded OK Computer onto my iPod nano or downloaded The King of Limbs to review it for the high school paper.

[00:37:38] It's a peculiar feeling to realize that as Radiohead grew up, so did we.

[00:37:51] (music break)

[00:37:51] You've been listening to Fake Plastic Podcast. Fake Plastic Podcast is an Alternate [00:38:00] Thursdays  production with new episodes every other Wednesday. Share your thoughts with us on Instagram or Twitter @fakeplasticpod. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. And if you really liked this episode, please leave a review and share with your friends, Radiohead fans, or otherwise. It helps more people discover the show.

[00:38:24] I'm Savannah Wright. Thanks for listening. [00:38:30]