3. Enjoy a Drink Now and Then

Colin Greenwood: Rock Star

Ah, the famous Greenwood hollow leg!
Colin looked up from his steak and gestured toward the wine in the middle of the table. “Brilliant!” he exclaimed. “Booze in the afternoon!”
The New Yorker, August 2001

While Radiohead have been portrayed as “Evian-sipping abstainers, content to play a hand of bridge on their tour bus,” [Q, 1997], it would be more accurate to say that they live by the motto, “Excess in Moderation.”

As a band, they prefer to kick back with a proper glass of wine or two than to funnel down pints of Jack Daniels, but this doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy getting pissed on occasion. Colin, in particular, has often been singled out as the one most prone to going on a bender — perhaps this is a side effect of being the social butterfly of the band, staying out and chatting over beer or Cosmopolitans with friends in a pub way past the others’ bedtimes — but not to the point of missing the bus in the morning. These guys are professionals.
“I don’t think that we are that unhealthy, to be honest with you. We are not really a party group. We don’t do any drugs or drink heavily at all. We don’t really even stay out late. It’s more like when you start off [a tour] you don’t know how much your body will or will not tolerate.”
Circus, August 1997

But, wait — this is not exactly a group of teetotalers, either. Not surprisingly, given his amiable personality, Colin is a happy drunk; amusing anecdotes abound regarding his loopy chattering when fully tanked.

Colin is drunk. Colin is a very good drunk — his eyes grow as wide as plates, and he lots out some secret in a flurry of giggles before clapping his hand over his mouth. “The next career move is to be Queen”, he says seriously, before exploding into more giggles. “We’ve been practising all the moves. I’m making him [i.e.: Thom] a crown and cloak.”
Whirlpool ezine, 1995

What about other mind-altering substances, you might ask? If I am to become like Colin, might I smoke cigarettes and maybe even dope like a chimney, for example? Yes, dear reader, you may. I do enjoy how smoking can allow you to concentrate on the different sounds, but I save it for something that I do after the record is done to pick up on things.

Despite his assertion to High Times magazine that Radiohead are puritanical in the studio, and we really don’t smoke or drink anything while we’re recording, Colin later described OK Computer’s sound, like a stoned Radiohead, and said of “Paranoid Android,” it’s just put together and taking the piss, it was just a joke, a laugh, getting wasted together over a couple of evenings and putting some different pieces together.

However, if you do have the opportunity to take magic mushrooms at the Grammys, deny, deny, deny.
“The drug I was on when I went over to the Grammys was powdered — this sounds like a euphemism — snowboarding. I went snowboarding for three days in Bear Mountain. It was brilliant!”
Toronto Sun, June 2001

Whooping it up backstage with Dan of Supergrass and Jonny

So, Colin and his band mates have been wise enough to not go off the deep end when enjoying themselves, having gotten the bulk of their drug experimentation behind them in college. Their reasonable approach to intoxication, or lack thereof, surely has contributed to their longevity as a band, as well as stability on the homefront.
“I’m sure we’d probably all be much happier and better party monsters if we indulged in Class A drugs,” Greenwood says later, wryly, “but we’d probably self-destruct six months down the line, which is what a lot of bands do. I’m not defending or condoning bands’ use of drugs, it is a bizarre, precarious, insecure, paranoid, falsely-comfortable, perspective-distorting lifestyle.”
NME, December 1995

Er, right.

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