Thom Yorke Says Neil Young Inspired His Radiohead Vocals

"I went out and bought 'After the Gold Rush' and was like, 'Wow! It's OK to sound like that?'"

BY Ben OkazawaPublished Sep 11, 2023

It's no secret that Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke loves Neil Young — but he's recently revealed that the Toronto-born singer actually inspired him to become more confident in his voice prior to forming the band. 

In the same Rolling Stone excerpt from Jason Thomas Gordon's new book The Singers Talk, in which he shared his unique backstage warmup, Yorke also said that he used to feel insecure about his vocal register, believing that it was "uncomfortably high or awkward." 

But, after having one of his early demos compared to — and the singer subsequently discovering — Young's music, Yorke began to feel more comfortable with his tone. 

"I sent the tape off, and it won, like, 'Demo of the Month' in this free music magazine, and this review said, 'Who is this guy? He sounds just like Neil Young!' I went, 'Who's Neil Young?'" he laughed. 

"I'd never even heard Neil Young, so I went out and bought After the Gold Rush and was like, 'Wow! It's OK to sound like that?'" Yorke continued. "Because he's slightly higher than me, but there was a softness and a naiveté in the voice which I was always trying to hide. Then, it was like, 'Oh, maybe I don't need to hide it.'" 

To get a first-hand listen at the "naiveté" that Yorke describes in his and Young's voices, check out Young's most recent archival album Chrome Dreams and Yorke's newest release as leader of the Smile, "Bending Hectic." 

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