Why Thom Yorke Was Assaulted By A Radiohead Fan

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The idea of being recognized on the street, people approaching you to take pictures, and receiving an endless amount of love from strangers may seem appealing to many. These are a part of a rock icon’s daily life. However, sometimes things might take a different turn and lead to unpleasant situations.

One of the most influential musicians in music history, John Lennon, was murdered by a fan who was offended by one of his remarks. Another example is Pantera’s Dimebag Darrell, who was shot onstage by a mentally ill fan as he was upset about the band’s split. Although these are serious cases, being harassed or stalked by a fan is more common for artists. This was the case for Thom Yorke when a Radiohead fan assaulted him in a bar.

The Reason A Radiohead Fan Cornered Thom Yorke In A Bar

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Throughout their career, Radiohead helped many fans express their insecurities, sadness, depression, or self-doubt with their music. For instance, their debut single, ‘Creep,’ has become the anthem of people who struggle with being an introvert and have self-confidence issues. Also, the 1998 song ‘No Surprises’ is known for its depressing tune and lyrics despite the use of glockenspiel or the childlike guitar sound.

In 2004, High Profiles’ Brian Draper asked Thom Yorke whether it bothered him when fans interpreted Radiohead’s song differently than they intended. Yorke stated that he preferred taking a deep breath and thinking it was an interesting approach because it was hard to accept that people didn’t get their songs. According to the musician, Radiohead isn’t depressing, but their fans just don’t get the band’s music.

Following that, Yorke recalled an unpleasant incident with a fan. The musician stated that a fan once pinned him down in a bar and asked him why ‘No Surprises’ was the most depressing song ever and why Radiohead tried to inflict those feelings on people. Thom said this wasn’t the case because he didn’t perceive it that way. Moreover, he admitted that he wasn’t making music with Radiohead to be loved by anybody, so these criticisms mean almost nothing to him.

High Profiles’ Brian Draper asked Thom Yorke the following:

“Does it bother you when people interpret a song in a way you didn’t intend?”

Yorke then responded:

“You have to take a deep breath and just go, ‘Hmm, that’s interesting!’ and then forget about it. I think that has always been the hardest: having to finish a song and accept that people probably won’t get it. Because it’s so obvious to me, to all of us, at the time, and it’s such a headf*ck when we are called ‘depressing.’ They just don’t get it. Depressing music, to me, is just sh*t music. It’s like an air freshener – just a nasty little poison in the air.

I remember being pinned down in a bar once by this guy who just went on and on and on and on about how ‘No Surprises’ was the most depressing piece of music he had ever heard in his life and why on earth would we choose to inflict that on people? But we don’t choose to inflict anything on anybody – and I just don’t hear what he heard anyway. And then you think, ‘Well, I’m not doing this to be loved anyway, so that’s OK.’

So, I’ve learned not to – well, I say that. It’s all bullsh*t, of course – I hope I’ve learned not to think about it, but you do think about it. Because what we choose to be engaged in is trying to communicate with people.”

Below, you can listen to Radiohead’s ‘No Surprises.’