To a band from Oxford, England, sunny Miami must give new meaning to the term "bask."
Which could be one reason
young (23) Jonny Greenway, guitarist and keyboardist for Radiohead, finds
himself in a relatively
cheery mood on the morning of the first day of a month of opening dates for R.E.M. The band plays with R.E.M. tonight at
"We'd observed with horror
that every band's second or third album would always have a song called
Motel Ain't Home or No
Place Like Home, and bands usually succumb to that, but we're still enjoying it," he says during a phone interview from his hotel.
A band of R.E.M.'s stature
normally makes its own choices when it comes to opening acts. How did Radiohead
earn favor with
the American quartet?
"We still don't really know,"
Greenway admits. "It was an invitation from them, and we assumed there
was going to be another
Radiohead from Alabama or something that were going to turn up at the first concert.
"It's been exciting and embarrassing, them watching us from the wings every night. It's enormously surreal."
At the start of the band's
career, seven or eight years ago, Greenway, guitarist Ed O'Brien and singer,
guitarist and lyricist Thom
Yorke wrote songs they recognized as akin to R.E.M.'s style at the time.
"It was sort of bizarre.
We were discussing whether we could get away with sounding like R.E.M.
the rest of our lives, and now
they've asked us to open for them."
Radiohead has found its own
identity in the years since. The band's first album, Pablo Honey, yielded
the Top 40 pop hit Creep in
Sonically and melodically
fetching, the songs on the band's newest album, The Bends, twist and gnarl
around emotional angst, as
supplied by Yorke's lyrics.
"She lives with a broken
man/A cracked polystyreneman who just crumbles and burns," the singer intones
in Fake Plastic Trees, a
slowly building wash of a sonic wave. Earlier this summer the tune had some modern rock and video success.
"Usually we write a song
all together, compose it as a whole. That was done by Thom just playing
by himself, gradually adding one
thing at a time. It's all very considered, in a good way."
The album's title track bubbles up from the dark recesses of depression.
"My baby's got the bends/We
don't have any real friends," Yorke sings, using decompression sickness
as a symbol for emotional
pain. "I'm just lying in a bar with my drip feed on talking to my girlfriend waiting for something to happen."