When Radiohead formed, they adopted the moniker of ‘On A Friday’ because that was the day they set aside at school to rehearse. Quickly though, the band went from a hobby to an obsession, and one Jonny Greenwood would later admit was “unhealthy”.
On A Friday operated differently to most young bands, and playing live never particularly appealed to the group during their early stages. Instead, they focussed on improving in the studio and completely ignored the live aspect of their artistry, despite it being the most exhilarating part of the process.
The songs they cooked up together were a secret among themselves and rarely found their way to those outside of On A Friday’s inner circle. Looking back on those years, Greenwood expressed regret about how seriously they treated the project during their college years and insinuated that his relationship with the band was a toxic one.
“We never really played concerts as On A Friday, I mean, maybe once or twice a year,” he told BBC 6 Music. “It was all about practising and rehearsing. It was all really quite self-involved in an unhealthy way I think. We used to just practice, play to each other, and then everybody would disappear off for college then come back and do it again. There was no goal, really.”
While the band met at school, On A Friday was put on the backburner when the members attended University, but their fortunes soon changed after graduation when they realigned their focus towards the group. At long last, they thrust themselves into the Oxfordshire scene, and suddenly they had a flock of record labels circling them to secure their signature.
Greenwood continued, “We didn’t play concerts until just before we got signed, we used to play a venue called The Jericho Tavern in Oxford. It feels like we only played that place three or four times, and then we were going on tour with The Frank and Walters or The Sultans of Ping FC.”
Once the band started performing live, Greenwood finally started to fully appreciate what they had created and revelled in sharing these moments of communion with audiences around the country.
He still vividly remembers the group’s inaugural tour like it was yesterday, “It was so exciting. We all lived in the same house in Oxford,” Greenwood reminisces. “We’d have a minibus, just putting the gear in the back from the sitting room where we’d been practising, and loading it up then going off. It was the most exciting thing to be going to Coventry Polytechnic or wherever, and it genuinely was.”
Performing is a crucial part of being in a band for Greenwood, and tirelessly rehearsing with no end goal seemed a futile task to him. Live shows are his carrot on the end of the stick, and to this day, they continue to make everything else worthwhile.