Long stretches between Radiohead activity isn’t a new phenomenon. There was a full half-decade between 2011’s The King of Limbs and 2016’s A Moon Shaped Pool, and now we’ve reached a half-decade since their most recent release. Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood are busy with The Smile, and Ed O’Brien put out his solo debut back in 2020, but it’s not like the band is broken up.
Well, maybe we shouldn’t be so sure. During a recent appearance on The Line-Up Podcast, O’Brien addressed the band’s recent inactivity by making a bold statement: “There’s no Radiohead at the moment. It might happen, but the other thing is… it might not. And what does that matter?”
Well, first off, it would disappoint millions of fans, Ed. There’s that small piece of the puzzle. What O’Brien is getting at in the interview is that Radiohead drift apart and come together organically, and that means that they don’t need to be together at the current moment.
“There’s a truth to what we do,” the Radiohead guitarist went on to explain. “So we’re not going to be one of those bands that gets together for the big payday.”
“The thing with Radiohead, we could do something in a couple years. We might not,” he added. “But I think what it has to be, it has to be five people going, ‘I really want to do this again with you.’ And I think at the moment, because we’ve done it for so long, we’re all reaching out and having different experiences. And that should be allowed, and that should be encouraged.”
Don’t mourn the end of Radiohead just yet, though. In O’Brien’s view, the band will inevitably come together again at some point in the future: “We love one another. We’re brothers. We probably will play together,” he said. “It could be that it doesn’t happen. I’m sure it will do. I’m almost certain that it will do. But you’ve got to also be able to be fine with it not happening again.”
Something tells me that hordes of diehard Radiohead fans won’t be quite as understanding or easy-going about the potential end of the band as O’Brien is, even if it probably won’t happen any time soon. Unless The Smile becomes an ongoing project or Yorke and Greenwood completely forgo rock in favour of movie soundtracks, it seems incredibly likely that this isn’t actually the final chapter of Radiohead’s career. But like O’Brien said, at the moment, there is no Radiohead. So cue up ‘True Love Waits’ and bawl your eyes out if need be.