Two days after performing on Saturday Night Live, Radiohead were back on television last night as the centerpiece of the first-ever hour-long episode of The Colbert Report. On top of the six songs the band played, the visit gave fans a rare look at the many personalities in Radiohead. The band hardly ever sits down for interviews, and a group interview on TV with all five (or six these days) members hasn't happened since maybe The Bends era.
Radiohead handled Stephen Colbert's shtick well, even when facing questions like "Why British?" They weren't as playful with the host as Jack White, but they weren't nearly as weirded out by Colbert's awkward line of questioning as Stephen Malkmus.
In an attempt to rib the famously anti-corporate Radiohead, Colbert continually joked that the episode had been sponsored by Dr Pepper. Yorke reacted by commenting that the beverage "tastes like that stuff you get at the dentist." Other highlights included Colbert questioning Yorke about his age (Thom looked to drummer Phil Selway to confirm that he is 42):
After the group interview, Yorke and guitarist Ed O'Brien sat down with Colbert to discuss a subject that is close to the band's heart: global warming. Yorke, who attended the 2009 Copenhagen climate change conference as a guest journalist, has gone through great lengths to ensure Radiohead leaves the smallest carbon footprint possible. However, the singer does admit he's doing less to save than world than Bono:
As for the performances, Radiohead played four songs during the hour-long show -- unreleased track "The Daily Mail" (above), a rousing rendition of "Bloom," "Little By Little," and Kid A's "The National Anthem" -- plus "Codex" and "Morning Mr Magpie" as web exclusives. Hopefully the SNL producers were taking notes, because The Colbert Report knows how to broadcast performances: The sound was crisp, each instrument could be appreciated, and the mobile cameras captured the feel of a live Radiohead gig better than SNL's static shots.
Also, Radiohead need to bring that horn section when they tour next year, because that brass really punched up "Bloom" and "National Anthem."
"Morning Mr Magpie"
Watch the rest of the performances over at Colbert Nation.
- Stephen Colbert