Amazingly, in my first week as online music co-editor, I’ve had the luck of landing the most insightful, and at the same time, most Exeter-relevant story in contemporary music. Let me tell you how it happened. This morning I was awoken by a knock on my door. Groggy-eyed, I opened it to reveal enigmatic Radiohead front man Thom Yorke, eyes ablaze with purpose. My mouth gaped with both amazement and unrelated hunger. Seeing this with the same extrasensory perception that brought us some of the greatest albums of all time, he said to me with an uncharacteristic smile: “I know what you need.” He grasped my hand like an eager schoolboy and after a short trip in the Radiohead helicopter I found myself in Thom’s executive flat at the top of Holland Hall.
“Aren’t you excited?” he said to me as we sat in his tastefully decorated studio apartment. “For what, Thom?” I replied, unwrapping the Balsamic Chicken and Avocado sandwich he’d handed me. “The new Pret, of course!” In the following hour he explained with searing passion his joy at the news that his favourite lunch destination was opening an outlet in the university he’d once studied at. Yorke told me he’d pulled every string he could to headline the opening ceremony, promising a solo acoustic set of the upcoming LP9 and refusing any payment. It turns out that the closely scrutinised relationship between the artistic development of Radiohead at the turn of the millennia, and the rise in popularity of French-themed yuppie eatery Pret a Manger IS in fact causal.
“Sometimes I look back at the more simplistic rock albums we made in the 90s and can’t help but hear all the Caffé Nero I was eating. As soon as I discovered Pret it’s like everything came into focus and I could really fulfill my vision” he enthused, quinoa dribbling down his chin.
“I’m a CrÊpe”
As part of an insight into his creative process, Thom gave me exclusive access to his “inspiration shoebox”. It was mostly comprised of receipts for baguettes, but among all these was journalistic dynamite such as a diagram which extrapolated the sonic layers in “Paranoid Android” from the layers of condiments in a California Club sandwich he ate in 2001. Similarly, the first draft of the intricately melancholic “How to Disappear Completely” is transcribed on the back of a tear-stained letter from Pret explaining their choice to discontinue their “Souper Tomato” flavour of soup. (April Fools! It’s still available!)
After our feast of middle-class brunch-morsels, he serenaded me softly with a revised version of Creep, with altered lyrics:
I’m a crêpe
I’m a weirdough
What the hell am I doughing here?
I doughnut belong here.
He sang with beautiful vulnerability and intelligence, before gently strumming the final chord. But in the reverent silence that followed I couldn’t help but blurt out the question that had been on my mind the whole time. “Don’t you think Pret will make eating on campus a bit of a pricey decision?” I said. Thom slowly looked up at me, aghast.
I was swiftly removed from the premises as Yorke, in wailing tears, called up Johnny Greenwood demanding he come over. As I was ejected from the gates of Holland Hall I saw the remainder of Radiohead hurriedly rushing in, sensing something good. I walked home mournfully, cursing my lack of tact as I heard an ethereal, impassioned falsetto pierce the cold Exeter morning.
We look forward to Thom’s attendance in the upcoming opening of Pret a Manger, next to the marketplace. Sorry.