Thom Yorke has spent the vast majority of the last 30 years building up a reputation as being one of the most serious and sombre men in music. That said, perhaps maybe all is not how it seems? In truth, the Radiohead frontman isn’t publicly known for having the most light-hearted temperament in rock music, however, he once turned his hand to being an Agony Uncle and the results are tremendous.
If you had the option to pick an Agony Uncle from the world of music, chances are you wouldn’t opt for the dour-faced Yorke whose biggest single is about beating himself up as a so-called ‘Creep’. If that’s what he thinks of himself then what uplifting message is Yorke going to provide you with? To much surprise, however, the Radiohead singer seems to make the transition from frontman to lifestyle coach with ease alongside his Atoms For Peace cohort Nigel Godrich. Together, the duo comes up with appropriate advice that is both sincere and helpful as part of the feature ‘Ask a Grown Man’.
The first question that the pair are tasked with is dealing with is a young fan’s query about how to inform the boy she fancies that she has a crush on him. Godrich was first to offer his answer, profoundly stating: “From my 42-years of experience, my only advice would be to seize an opportunity and not waste time by being shy because you realise after a while that doesn’t really get you anywhere.”
Yorke then adds: “If you have a crush on him then you could if you are really, really, really, really shy, which is what I was when I was that age, also I was at a boys school so it was impossible to meet girls anyway,” he meanders, before adding: “How about just writing him a note? If you can’t bear to talk to him or like throw him against the wall sometimes,” the singer jokes.
The Atoms For Peace men are then dealt with a tough question from a fan who wants to break up with her boyfriend because they are boring. “It depends on how they are boring you,” Yorke says, as he attempts to skirt around the topic in a diplomatic manner. “But not really, if they are boring then run away. If they sit there and talk to you and say the same thing over and over again and you feel like your brain is pouring out of your ears like soup, then it’s time to go.”
Godrich then gives a more heartfelt answer: “The truth is you’re supposed to have common interests and you’re supposed to enjoy your time in relationships. If for any reason that you’re not enjoying it and it’s not working for you, well, not all people are compatible. It’s not a crime and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it.”
The most poignant moment in the video arrives when Yorke and Godrich answer a question from a body-conscious fan who is scared to get into a relationship because of a scar she has from life-saving heart surgery when she was two-years-old. “If you like somebody and they have an imperfection, they become the thing you end up identifying with them,” Godrich emotionally states. “If somebody can be as shallow and facile to have a problem with something like that, you don’t want to be with that person,” the producer adds.
Yorke then emphasises on Godrich’s point by referring to his lazy eye and adding: “This doesn’t work properly and when I was born I had several operations because I was born with this one [points to right eye] completely shut. Now it sort of works but it’s wonky, it doesn’t work the same way and when I was your age, I was convinced that girls would think that was not very nice at all.
“I worked in this pub and this old woman, she was so funny and used to come in all the time. She was the first person who said that it’s the nicest thing about you and she was pissed all the time, but I went with it,” he says with a wry giggle. “Everyone is imperfect, nobody has a symmetrical face, no-one’s body is perfect. Don’t worry,” he adds from the heart.