The Radiohead guitarist turned solo star took to his official Instagram to wish everyone a Happy New Year and to provide an apology for his lack of posting on the social media platform. He began with a comment on the Israel and Palestine conflict – and the Hamas attack on an Israeli music festival back in October that saw hundreds killed or abducted and thousands more injured – before share details of the progress of his next solo record.
“Like so many of you I have found the events of October 7 and what has followed too awful for words.. anything that I have tried to write feels so utterly inadequate. Ceasefire now. Return the hostages,” he wrote.
He continued: “I also just want to say how thankful I am for this little community that we have on here …. that felt so affirming when we were doing our in isolation nights… Thank you and big love to all of you. I will get back to this..it’s just sometimes you need a break from all this stuff .. and it needs to come from the right place.
“I’m deep into my next record, and deep in the process.. I will share some more soon … from music to influences to gear .. all of it… it’s been and continues to be a journey..Sending love and warmth from me and Ziggy.”
His last solo release was his 2020 album ‘Earth‘, released under his moniker EOB. In a four-star review of the LP, NME shared: “O’Brien’s personality shines through, and it’s a pleasure to get to know him. It’s tempting to conclude he’s Radiohead’s secret weapon.”
Speaking to NME about creating the record, O’Brien said: “If I don’t do this, a part of me will die.”
He also shared that ‘Earth’ felt like a fitting soundtrack for these trying times and said: “A theme on the record is that in spite of the darkness and challenging times that we live in, humanity can do amazing things when they put their mind to it. Look at what’s happened in the last couple of weeks: a new hospital has been opened up within six days, people have been looking out for the vulnerable and standing on their doorsteps en masse to clap and appreciate our NHS workers.”
Back in 2017, Radiohead made headlines when many Palestinian supporters called for the band to cancel a show in Israel – including figures from the music world as well as protests taking place at the band’s gigs at Glastonbury and TRNSMT Festival, in the name of a cultural boycott.
“I don’t agree with the cultural ban at all, along with J.K. Rowling, Noam Chomsky and a long list of others,” he said at the time. “There are people I admire [who have been critical of the concert] like [English film director] Ken Loach, who I would never dream of telling where to work or what to do or think.”
Yorke continued: “The kind of dialogue that they want to engage in is one that’s black or white. I have a problem with that. It’s deeply distressing that they choose to, rather than engage with us personally, throw shit at us in public. It’s deeply disrespectful to assume that we’re either being misinformed or that we’re so retarded we can’t make these decisions ourselves. I thought it was patronising in the extreme. It’s offensive and I just can’t understand why going to play a rock show or going to lecture at a university [is a problem to them].”
He also went on to point out of the point of view of the band’s guitarist Jonny Greenwood, saying: “The person who knows most about these things is Jonny. He has both Palestinian and Israeli fans and a wife who’s an Arab-Israeli. All these people to stand there at a distance throwing stuff at us, waving flags, saying, ‘You don’t know anything about it!’ Imagine how offensive that is for Jonny.
“And imagine how upsetting that it’s been to have this out there. Just to assume that we know nothing about this. Just to throw the word ‘apartheid’ around and think that’s enough. It’s fucking weird. It’s such an extraordinary waste of energy. Energy that could be used in a more positive way.”
At the time of writing, over 22,000 people have been killed in Palestine and about 1,200 people in Israel (via Reuters).
O’Brien’s news about the progress of his forthcoming solo album may draw some concerns for Radiohead fans since the band’s drummer Philip Selway recently hinted at the idea of them “coming back around to that point” of returning and reuniting.
“We’ve actually had a little break for a minute; the last show that we did was back in 2018, but we’re coming back ’round to that point now,” said the drummer back in November. “There is just something particular to that relationship — that creative relationship and personal relationship — actually, you can’t get anywhere else.”
He added: “We’re all coming back around to that point now of thinking, ‘Right, we’ve had a break — this is it. This feels like something to dive back into and really explore and see what other directions it can take us in.”
Previously speaking about a potential reunion back in 2022, O’Brien said: “It might happen, but the other thing is… it might not. And does that matter?”
Selway released his third solo album ‘Strange Dance‘ back in February, while Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood has been touring with Nick Cave. Yorke and Jonny Greenwood are gearing up to release their second album with The Smile, with ‘Wall Of Eyes’ arriving on January 26 before an extensive UK and European tour.
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