This past February, Thom Yorke’s newest project Atoms for Peace released their first proper record, Amok and in true Yorke fashion, he’s been rather difficult to nab an interview with. Enter actor Alec Baldwin, who (naturally?) got him on his WNYC show Here’s the Thing. The hour-long episode reveals a whole host of gems, including Yorke’s impression of a Southern accent. Here’s seven of our favorite factoids you’ll discover when you dig in.
1. He Didn’t Start Using a Computer for Music Until After OK Computer
“I finally, in the late, late ’90s, you could like go on tour with a laptop and it was powerful enough that you could record, edit, use synthesizers built into it and it wouldn’t crash and it was fairly stable,” he said.” Sadly, though, he did not reveal what his AIM name was.
2. Yorke Needs His Alone Time Before He Goes Onstage
“I stand on my head for a bit and basically I’m completely on my own until five minutes before we go on, and then we’re all in a room together pacing up and down like wild animals and then we’re on.” And here we thought he was fixing his ponytail.
3. Queen Guitarist Brian May Was His Idol Growing Up
After hearing May built his own guitar, a 10-year-old Yorke attempted to do the same. “I had to cheat with the neck on the guitar,” he admitted. “I found an old—somewhere a neighbor gave me a neck of an electric guitar. I was like, “Great, okay, that’s good.” But you know, I was 10 or 11, so I was trying to like bolt it together to this other piece of wood that I’d cut out and it was just a disaster. But it kind of worked, but it was ugly.”
4. His Family Wasn’t Terribly Musical, but His Great-Grandmother Could Wail
“The only [musical family member] one that sticks out is apparently my great grandmother, she’d get really hammered and then stay up playing her pump organ thing downstairs all night and keep the family up.”
5. He Says His Greatest Personal Strength is Ignorance
“I don’t know what I’m doing,” he flat-out stated. “I like the fact that I still don’t know what I’m doing. I think—no, honestly. I’ll go through whole phases of months where I haven’t got a clue. I regularly lose complete confidence in what I’m doing.” This is from the guy who made Kid A!
6. Yorke Is An International Rock Star, But He’s Never Been One to Hound Fellow Celebrities. Except That One Time With Ed Norton.
“I don’t hang out with people because they are who they are necessarily, unless I’m a big admirer of them,” he said. “Like I mean, I stalked Ed Norton for ages until eventually he gave in. Because I’m a big admirer of him. I think he’s brilliant. So I hang out with him a bit occasionally.” We’re assuming it’s because he’s a huge Death to Smoochy fan.
7. He Goes on Painting Trips With English Artist Stanley Donwood and Has a Penchant for Purple
“[Stanley Donwood and I] painted landscapes all afternoon but they were purple and blue and yellow. Some poor woman, I remember coming like, late afternoon, like coming and asking us for directions. And this poor woman comes up and asks for directions to go somewhere or other and then looks at the paintings and just wanders off like… “I don’t think the purple’s working for you.”