thom yorke interview


Do you suffer from depression?

“This is why I get defensive,” he replies, sinking back into his chair. "People reflect this back onto the music we make as well and it makes me quite angry. Depression is a medical condition, and in this country especially it’s very badly stigmatised and it damages the people who suffer from it. If you suffered from dyslexia, for a long time that was stigmatised. And now it’s sort of encompassed and you can have treatment. If you suffer from depression, you are stigmatised. You’re a freak, you can’t get a job – things like that – if you’re medically depressed.”

He lurches forward, boring a hole in the table with his gaze. “For there to be a culture of antagonism towards music that involves depression or any form of self-expression where perhaps the artist suffers from depression, well, you know, the artist is a freak and will get attacked for it. And it will reflect back in the music. And I think that absolutely fucking stinks.”

People trivialise it? “Yes, and I have a problem with that. Because that shows utter irresponsibility and lack of respect for, not just me, but anybody who suffers at all from depression. It can be an illness – I’m not saying it’s an illness for me because I I’ve sort of dealt with it. But for a lot of people it really is an illness, and for the sake of them I think it’s highly offensive.”

Was there a single event or period which shaped his mental state?

“Depression’s not like that. When you say you suffer from depression it’s a condition, it’s something that’s there, that’s all. It’s not particularly strong, it’s not particularly destructive, it’s not particularly bad - I’ m very lucky. Lots of people are much, much worse – lots of people can’t leave the house. They’ve got no idea why, maybe they never will find out why. And all the drugs they get given don’t work, or whatever, and all the therapy is completely pointless. That’s kind of not the point.”

Uncut, august 2001

When did you last cry?
Yesterday, on stage, cos I put hair gel in my hair and it ran into my eyes. I went temporarily blind and had to cry it out. It was terrible, cos everyone thought I was getting really emotional about the song. I must have looked like I was suffering. Mind you, I was - it bloody hurt.

What’s the most rock ‘n’ roll thing you have ever done?
Most people throw TV’s out of windows, but we go into lobbies find the computerised piano and turn the speed controls right up. That’s much more rock 'n’ roll, especially as no one ever knows how to turn it back again, I just find it very funny.

Vox, february 1996