les membres du groupe et leur univers

On a Friday (1986-1991)

On A Friday est le premier nom de la formation devenue ensuite Radiohead. Le groupe se forme à l’Abingdon School, une école privée d’Oxford en 1985. Deux étudiants du même âge et donc de la même promo, Thomas Yorke et Colin Greenwood se connaissent déjà, ils avaient participé ensemble auparavant à un groupe de punk : TNT.

Soon, Thom joined a sixth-form punk band, TNT. When he got fed up with their lack of progress and left, Colin replaced him.
— Record Collection, novembre 1996

 

Thom aime bien Colin  « parce qu’il avait l’air cool », et « parce qu’il était dans ma promotion et que nous étions toujours dans les mêmes soirées » Les deux garçons appréciaient également la même musique : Joy Division, les Smiths… Ils veulent donc passer à autre chose de plus sérieux. Thom quitte le premier le groupe TNT, excédé par l’ego démesuré des autres membres, et il conviera un peu plus tard Colin à le rejoindre dans un nouveau groupe où il avait déjà ajouté Ed O’brien, un grand gars d’un an de plus dont le look « très Morissey lui avait bien plu » (de plus Ed et Colin se connaissent, ils ont fait du théâtre ensemble) , et un batteur de deux ans plus âgé, pas vraiment cool, mais qui avait une batterie, Phil Selway :

When TNT imploded, Thom offered Colin the chance to play bass in a band he was forming with the tall, handsome chap in the year above who looked a bit like Morrissey: Ed O’Brien. A sixth-former, who looked nothing like Morrissey but had a drum kit, was also asked to join. Thom’s first words to Phil Selway were momentous: « Can’t you play a bit faster? »
— Rolling Stone Yearbook, fin 1997

 

Phil confirme que Thom l’a un peu rudoyé sur le tempo au départ:

“Can’t you play any fucking faster?” First impressions are so important, and such was my initial greeting, as drummer, from the band. Despite having been at the same school for years, we’d had no contact until this exchange of ideas at my first rehearsal at the music school. We had been in different years, and most certainly weren’t a gang. Eight years on and aside from Thom’s hair, little has changed. We still argue about tempo and, finally, are in a gang of our own – thankfully without any bizarre initiation rites.
— Answerphone, début 1995

 

 

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La formation prend le nom d’ « On a Friday’, « Le vendredi », à savoir la date de répétition du groupe dans le studio de musique de l’école.

Colin a un petit frère, Jonny, qui est une sorte de génie de la musique. Il touche un peu à tout, mais il n’a que 13 ans en 1985. Et comme tous les petits frères, Jonny suit partout Colin, qui garde ainsi un oeil sur lui. Très vite, le jeune Jonny a envie lui aussi de monter sur scène… D’autant plus que de son côté, il officie aussi dans un groupe « The Illiterate Hands« , avec le petit frère de Thom…

When Jonny was six, he bought Squeeze’s ‘Cool For Cats’ on pink vinyl, and used to sing songs to the dinner ladies. Something of a musical prodigy, he spent his childhood in various orchestras, playing everything from the recorder to jazz guitar, the piano to the viola. He spent a year bugging the band to let him join until, finally, one day Colin called him and told him to bring along his harmonica.

“It was a way ofkeeping an eye on him,” says Colin. “He was only 13, it was a difficult age.”

— Rolling Stone Yearbook, fin 1997

 

En 1986 une première cassette démo est enregistrée par On A Friday. (En savoir plus sur cette démo)

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On A Friday est alors composé des 4 futurs membres de Radiohead (puisque Jonny n’a pas encore ses entrées), et de Raz Peterson au saxophone.

 

source de la photo  : http://radiolock.tumblr.com/tagged/on-a-friday

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Pour le plus grand plaisir des fans, cette première démo de 10 titres est ressorti sur le net en 2011 grâce à l’épouse d’un ancien ami à qui les jeunes membres d’On A Friday l’avait laissée et qui a distillé sur youtube quelques chansons sous le pseudo klootme avec cette explication :

History behind the tape is that my husband was at school with the band and partied with them (before Jonny joined them !). Phil was at Uni with us both in Liverpool. The demo was given to my husband at 17 in school. We used to go and see them play in Oxford and was friends with them. They were fairly inactive from 1987 -1990 as a band. But when everyone had finished Uni they got back together and tried to make a go of it. They went to the States…we went backpacking to India for 6 months. Six months later we retured from India…saw Colin with a binbag full of laundry at the lauderette…..« so much for the States » we laughed……. » I remember seeing them in Oxford where me and my husband made up an audience of 6 !
— Klootme / youtube

 

 

Une deuxième K7 demo est enregistrée en juin 1987 à l’Union Street Studios  d’Oxford ou avec le matériel de Nigel Powell, qui s’était déjà occupé de la première démo de The Illiterate Hands, le groupe de Jonny, et il semblerait que Thom en soit un peu jaloux.

Also around this time, Andy mentioned that his brother was jealous of the quality of the Illiterate Hands’ demo (??),and was asking who’d done it. So after my exams that June (1987), I spent a good few weeks of the summer recording a demo for On A Friday, who by this time had included Jonny in their ranks, as a keyboard player.
— Nigel Powel / www.unbelievable-truth.com/features/biog/biog1.html

Le groupe de 4  joue pour la première fois à la Jericho Tavern. Jonny est dans le coin, avec son harmonica, et dans le public, on trouve surtout la famille, les amis…

So it was a four and a half man line-up of On A Friday which debuted at Oxford’s Jericho Tavern as early as 1987. (Jonny hanging about with his harmonica just in case.) But any serious tilt at stardom was to be forestalled by largely unenthusiastic parents and the call of further education.
— Mojo, septembre 1997

 

C’est ce jour là que Jonny est autorisé à monter sur scène :

A week after his first rehearsal, the band played at their local venue the Jericho Tavern, during which Jonny sat on the side of the stage, eagerly clinging to his harmonica. At last, Thom signaled for him to get up onstage with them. He was in.
— Select, avril 1995

Peu après, Jonny s’achète un clavier, il ne quittera plus le groupe.

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 On A Friday prend un nouveau souffle en passant de 5 à 8 avec l’ajout de Jonny au clavier et de deux saxophonistes, les soeurs Charlotte et Liz Cotton, en plus de Raz Peterson  :

Shortly afterwards he bought a keyboard. Now the nascent Radiohead sounded like a cheesy Talking Heads sixth-form band. Then they hit upon a fantastic new idea: a horn section. They brought in saxophone players, two pretty sisters who responded to jeers with their delicate middle fingers
— Select, avril 1995

 

 

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Thom n’a pas encore un grand sens de l’écriture.

You once mentioned a girl listening to one of your early demos (when Radiohead were called On A Friday) and saying, « Your lyrics are crap. They’re too honest, too personal, too direct and there’s nothing left to the imagination ». How did you react?
She was right. When I first started I wasn’t really interested in writing lyrics. Which is strange in a way because if I didn’t like the words on a record, if it wasn’t saying anything, I would never bother with it again. But at 16 your own songs are half-formed and you don’t really expect anyone to hear them, so you don’t care what the words are. A big step for me was starting to work with Jonny and the others. And that would be a month after my friend said what she said.
— Q #133, octobre 1997

 

A priori, cette photo, fournie par Nigel Powell, date de cette époque.

130325-radiohead-80s© acpgthemovie.com

 

 

De 1987 à  1990, les membres du groupe doivent se séparer pour continuer leurs études. Excepté Jonny, ils doivent tous aller à l’Université, et chacun prend une route différente, même s’ils se retrouvent de temps à autre pour quelques concerts. En 1988, une K7 demo est enregistrée au Wormwood Studios par Dave Pegg ( http://www.radiohead.fr/?p=25867)

Capture d’écran 2013-05-05 à 19.14.06

 

Un concert en 1988 :

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ou là, à une date indéterminée :

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Colin va à l’université de Cambridge, il intègre l’équivalent du BDE (Bureau des élèves) et s’occupe donc d’organiser des concerts. Il essaye de booker quelques dates pour On A Friday. Thom est à Exeter où il joue de la guitare dans un nouveau groupe techno Flicker Noise, Phil à Liverpool…

Then they went to college – all except Jonny, who stayed behind at school. Now they were well on their way to being a well-educated band who met up every once in a while to sound terrible.

They tried to get gigs whenever they could get together. Colin, now at Cambridge University and Peterhouse college ents officer, managed to wangle shows in Cambridge; they treated slots at the Rock Garden in London as chances to have a day out. In the meantime, college offered new opportunities for musical experimentation – at Exeter, Thom played lead guitar in a techno outfit called Flickernoise, in Liverpool, Phil played drums in a college revue version of Return To The Forbidden Planet. None of these exploits, of course, was even remotely successful.

When Colin, Phil and Ed left, college in the summer of 1990, both the horn section and the encore featuring Elvis Costello’s ‘Pump It Up’ were still an immutable part of On A Friday. By now, the band were not only out-of-step, but off the planet.

— Select, avril 1995

 

Au début de l’été 1990,  Thom, Colin, Ed sont rentrés à Oxford pour les vacances. Phil est encore en Ireland. Nigel Powell , qui le remplace provisoirement dans le rôle de batteur,  enregistre une nouvelle démo pour le groupe, dite la « Shinding demo ». En effet, la formation tente un nouveau nom : Shinding. D’autres noms tout aussi farfelus sont aussi envisagés :

On A Friday was periodically resuscitated when all the members happened to be back in Oxford, but mostly it was an era of forming college-based bands with curious (i.e. crap) names like King Of Thailand, Shindig and Jungle Telegraph.
— Record Collector, novembre 1996

 

L’enregistrement commence l’été, et se terminera à la fin de l’été juste quand Phil revient. Il a même le temps de participer à quelques titres. En savoir plus sur la Shinding Demo de 1990 : http://www.radiohead.fr/?p=3500

 

Pendant ce temps-là, des choses se passent chez deux  producteurs d’Oxford  : Bryce Edge et Chris Hufford, à la tête des studios Courtyard. Un des assistants de Chris, John Butcher, lui fait écouter la K7 du groupe de ses copains de classe. Chris est conquis, mais a conscience qu’il faudrait une démo « un peu plus sérieuse ».

Meanwhile, in the village of Sutton Courtenay, near Abingdon, Courtyard Studios was coming down around the owners’ ears. In their mid-thirties in 1987, two former members of a band called Aerial FX, Chris Hufford (guitar, bass, vocals) and Bryce Edge (keyboards) became part of a partnership running an ambitious complex of hi-tech business units and matching houses designed to bring IT-age living to Oxfordshire almost a decade before it became fashionable or, indeed, totally feasible. At its core was a recording studio. By 1990 the project was in serious trouble and the studio was running at a loss. When the partnership crumbled, Chris and Bryce managed to rent the purpose-built studio space from the new owners. A long session with local band Slowdive saved the business and they began to hatch plans for a production company.
One afternoon, a young man named John Butcher, a close friend of Chris’s assistant, came into Courtyard with a demo tape. It was the complete works of a band which featured two of Butcher’s classmates, Thom Yorke and Colin Greenwood. « You couldn’t hear any one band on it. Out of all those Oxford bands, there were no performers of great songs. But Thom was incredible. Brilliant songs with the amazing power of the three guitars. I could see it on a world level, even then,— Hufford says now of his first taste of On A Friday.— There were some good tunes but it was all obviously ripped off mercilessly ». He might have ignored it were it not for the 15th track. « It was a weird looped-up dance tiling which was completely mental but had something about it that was very different. I asked if they had anything else. After about six months John brought in another tape with Stop Whispering and What’s That You Say on it. These were great songs. Now they had an identity ».
— Mojo, septembre 1997

 

A l’été 1991, tous les membres d’On A Friday sont de retour définitivement à Oxford, et ont terminé leur étude. Jonny, lui, est censé aller étudier la psychologie à la rentrée. On A Friday peut renaître à temps complet !

That summer of 1991 the band had finished university but for Jonny, who was just about to start a psychology course at Oxford Poly.
— Mojo, septembre 1997

 

Au départ, les répétitions ne sont pas très sérieuses, le groupe écoute des disques des Pixies, de Lou Reed, et puis finalement, Thom se rend compte qu’il y a du potentiel, alors il accélère les choses.

After waiting a year for Thom to finish his course, the band regrouped in Oxford in the summer of 1991, and spent their time listening to the Pixies and Lou Reed’s ‘New York’.
— Select, avril 1995

 

Il est temps pour On A Friday de prendre une place dans la scène musicale d’Oxford, dont voici la description :

John Harris recalls Oxford’s musical community of the time: « It was a funny scene, very separate from the university — bands like Ride, Slowdive, Swervedriver and 5.30 — and centred around the Jericho, a record shop called Manic Hedgehog and a magazine called Curfew, which put On A Friday on the cover very early on. There was a pub called The New Inn on the Cowley Road where bands swapped tips and so on »
— Mojo, septembre 1997

 

Ed s’improvise impresario…

Harris had been aware of On A Friday long before he actually saw them, « There’s always someone in a band that takes on a quasi-managerial role and for them it was Ed. He sent me a couple of letters — on On A Friday notepaper — saying ‘I’m in this group, come and see us’. To be honest, I (=John Harris) ignored them. »
— Mojo, septembre 1997

 

On A Friday accepte toutes les dates possibles. Le premier concert a lieu au Hollybush Inn d’Oxford le 22 juillet 1991. Voici ce qu’en raconte le groupe en 1993 à Melody Maker :

One smoke machine, two strobes and five friends.

Un article de Q#179 d’août 2001 nous fait un récit bien détaillé des concerts suivants :

8 AUGUST 1991
On A Friday play their first gig with the current Radiohead line-up at the Jericho Tavern (later the Philanderer & Firkin, now The Jericho)

Mac (Jericho Tavern bond booker): Ed O’Brien came in to the Jericho to see me. At the time he was a waiter at Brown’s, this incredibly trendy, incredibly expensive restaurant with rather attractive waitresses. He told me if I gave his band a show, he could guarantee he would bring plenty of his colleagues. Well, I’d heard their demo, the one with Stop Whispering on it, with a piece of a Silk Cut advert as a cover. It was good stuff. Typical Kingmaker kind of indie rock. Well, back then people thought The Stone Roses were good!
They were true to their word, loads of waitresses turned up, the place was full of grade-A totty. That ensured another booking. Oh, and the band were pretty good too. Really tight. Great songs. It was obvious they were going to get a deal.

Ronan Munro (local journalist): It was like a Robert Palmer video. That was the first time I reviewed them for Curfew [local fonzine]. They had that sound that was of the time, a bit of a Manchester indie-dance aspect to them and quite REM-ish too, and these country influences which are obligatory now, but at the time were quite bizarre. But it was Thom’s voice that really got me, it was quite at odds with the rest of the band. I remember saying they’d be huge. I got one prediction right anyway. My other was Prolapse.

— Q#179 / août 2001

 

 

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En octobre 1991, le groupe joue à nouveau à la Jericho, toujours devant des amis, mais plus nombreux, mais aussi  Chris Hufford qui est invité, puisqu’il a apprécié leur dernière démo  :

At the end of October [1991], Oxford’s thinnest band (The Wild Poppies split up ages ago), On A Friday, played the Jericho Tavern to a good sized crowd and there was a man from EMI there.
— Curfew, 1991

 

quelques photos prises lors d'un concert de 1991 à la Jericho Tavern dans un article de presse

quelques photos prises lors d’un concert de 1991 à la Jericho Tavern dans un article de presse

 

OCTOBER 1991
On A Friday play Oxford Poly, with Freak! and Death By Crimpers.

Ronan Munro: I remember absolutely everything went wrong, the sound was atrocious, the equipment kept fucking up. Thom was on the verge of having a nervous breakdown onstage. But what made it so incredible was that they still came across brilliantly.
This time I took more notice of the rest of the band. Phil had hair then – quite a lot of hair. Jonny had a real schoolboy spod haircut. He was even more sunken-looking then and looked really ill. Everyone always used to refer to them as Oxford’s thinnest band. I remember thinking They could be as big as Ride.

— Q#179 / août 2001

 

When Hufford expressed interest in the new tape they invited him to a gig at the Jericho Tavern.
— Mojo, septembre 1997

 

Hufford décide d’invester dans le groupe est les invité aux studios Courtyard pour enregistrer une démo mieux structurée de 5 titres, la Manic Hedgehog, 4ème démo du groupe.

They’ve just been into Courtyard Studios with Chris Hufford, producer of Slowdive’s album.

Colin: « He heard about us through a mutual friend and came to see us at the Jericho. Afterwards he was almost shaking. He said we were the best group he’d seen in three years and invited us to record with him at the Courtyard. We see it as an investment. »

And the investment seems to be about to pay off sooner than they expected. The five songs they recorded show a massive leap in depth and professionalism from their last demo, impressive though it was. The new tape should be available from Manic Hedgehog by the time you read this and it’s well worth forking out £3 for. In short it’s a stormer.

— Curfew, novembre 1991
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1992, session d’enregistrement de Drill

 

Thom comprend qu’il faut passer à autre chose : plus de saxo, Jonny se met à guitare (le « batard » comme dit Thom réussit en quelques semaines à peine à avoir un niveau de dingue !), et il faudrait changer le nom du groupe.

They decided to take this band thing seriously alter all. They binned the brass section. . They changed their name to Radiohead. Jonny picked up a guitar and within weeks he could play just like Brian May.

Thom: “The bastard.”

— Select

 

C’est Colin, qui va accélerer les choses encore plus. Après l’été, il a cherché du travail et a été engagé pour tenir la caisse d’un magasin de disque : le « Our Price ». Et alors qu’un jour, Keith Wozencroft, en passe de terminer son contrat avec EMI pour aller travailler chez Parlophone, est de passage, Colin lui tend sa K7 démo en lui conseiller de signer On A Friday.

MEANWHILE, a former musician from Gloucester was coming to the end of his time as a sales rep for EMI records. Keith Wozencroft had just been offered a job in A&R at Parlophone. On his farewell visit to the Oxford branch of Our Price he told the personable young man named Colin behind the counter of his new post. « You should sign my band »,— said Colin Greenwood, handing him On A Friday’s demo.
— Mojo / septembre 1997

 

 

Keith Wozencroft passe voit un concert du groupe en plein air. Le public n’est composé que des petits amis, mais il aime bien ce qu’il voit et entend. Il prévient donc chez EMI qu’il convient de surveiller ce qui se passe à Oxford…

Struck by the tape’s diversity and the singing, Wozencroft went to see the band at an open-air gig in an Oxford park. « There was no-one there in this little tent apart from a couple ol their girlfriends. But they played really well. I left a message with the sound guy that it was great and kept in touch over the next few months ».
— Mojo / septembre 1997

 

Une autre personne a la même idée : Jan Brown, un booker. Il aime beaucoup le groupe, leur prévoit donc des dates, et a envoyé au cas où une démo à Charlie Myatt, d’ITB à Londres.

A booker at Bath Moles Club, Jan Brown, sent the same tape to an agent, Charlie Myatt at ITB in London, recommending the band to him. « I went and visited them in some sort of cowshed,— says Myatt.— I was very impressed by their intelligence and started to get them gigs ».
— Mojo / septembre 1997

 

Un concert en décembre a lieu à la Jericho Tavern. Plusieurs représentantes de maisons de disques sont présents, dont Nick Gatfield, le bosse chez EMI.  C’est lui qui va faire la plus belle offre.

On A Friday were the first thing Keith Wozencroft took into his boss, EMI A&R director (and former sax player with Dexy’s Midnight Runners), Nick Gatfield. Having once been signed to EMI themselves, Chris and Bryce also had contacts at the label. When the full EMI team finally turned up to a Jericho Tavern show, almost every major label was present.
« Because I was new to the role it never occurred to me that the band might go with anyone else,— recalls Wozencroft, who took on direct responsibility for the band.— Gatfield put a good offer in straight away and it was fine. We didn’t mess around ». On A Friday had a deal. They were on the same label as The Beatles.
— Mojo

 

Hufford et Edge réussissent même à obtenir le rôle de manager.

Though they’d intended to be a production team, it seemed only logical that Chris Hufford and Bryce Edge should become the band’s managers. « Management had never been an ambition,— laughs Hufford.— We’d always thought managers were complete tossers. But we’d learnt a lot. We thought, Let’s be management where you put yourself in the artist’s shoes. We were naive about a lot of the business but we totally believed in the band »
— Mojo / septembre 1997

 

Une fois le contrat signé, On A Friday change de nom et devient Radiohead. Le changement de nom est annoncé dans la presse, la preuve avec cette publicité dans Curfew :

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source : http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-33176717

Dans un article du Melody Maker du 14 août 1993, on trouve une explication simple pour le changement de nom :

ORIGIN OF NAME
We’re named after a song by Talking Heads. We changed from On A Friday, because everybody hated it – especially us .

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