OXFORD, ENGLAND—In an uncharacteristically frank and revelatory discussion of his inspirations and creative process, Radiohead frontman and solo artist Thom Yorke admitted Thursday that the vast majority of music he makes is fueled solely by the constant fear of being one-upped by British rock band Coldplay. “When I first heard ‘Yellow’ almost 20 years ago, I knew we were in trouble. I saw no way we could ever compete with them—Radiohead almost broke up completely,” said Yorke, revealing that the opening notes of Coldplay’s simple piano ballad ‘The Scientist’ frustrated him to tears when he realized that he would likely never create anything as sonically perfect. “Yes, we received some minor praise for Kid A and Amnesiac. But critics failed to realize that those albums were just vain attempts to compete with the gorgeously understated melodies and feather-light falsetto that made A Rush Of Blood To The Head so hauntingly beautiful. After that album came out, Jonny, our guitarist, called me in a panic and said we needed to get back in the studio immediately. Coldplay may not have put anything out recently, but I know that they’re just waiting, conserving their strength, preparing to release an incredible concept album and forever unseat us as the second coming of Pink Floyd. It might be enough if, just once, [undisputed genius singer-songwriter and spiritual heir to the musical and thematic legacies of Depeche Mode and Talking Heads] Chris [Martin] would say ‘good job, mate’ after I put out an album, but until then, I’ll try and take motivation from living in his incredibly long shadow.” Yorke added that, had it not been for Coldplay’s epic, genre-defining Super Bowl halftime show, he may never have considered bringing Radiohead’s music to large stadiums.
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