Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke called himself a “hypocrite” over climate change.

He admitted that he was all too aware of the contrast between campaigning on ecological issues while also traveling around the world by airplane as part of his duties as a touring musician.

“The thing I’ve always struggled somewhat with is if I’m campaigning on climate change, I’m someone who has to fly for my work so ... I’m a hypocrite,” Yorke said on the latest episode of the long-running BBC radio show Desert Island Discs. “I totally agree I’m a hypocrite, but what do you want to do about it?

“The truth of the matter is we’re all part of a system. It’s a systemic thing that has to change. You can do stuff but the real stuff has to happen in parliament and the UN, and has to happen now. We’re out of time.”

He discussed his struggle to deal with Radiohead’s success in the early days. “I got angry, I’m an extremely angry person,” he said. “I got more control-freakery. I put my hands on the steering wheel and I was white-knuckled, and I didn’t care who I hurt or what I said.” He explained that he later apologized to his bandmates, and by the time they recorded their 1997 album OK Computer “the doors had opened up and we had the best time doing that record.”

Yorke also reflected on the loss of his former partner Rachel Owen, the mother of his two children who died of cancer in 2016, a year after they separated. “It was a very difficult period, and we went through a lot,” he said. “It was very hard. She suffered a great deal, and my ambition is to make sure that we have come out of it all right, and I hope that’s what’s happening. ... I can’t hope to be their mum, but we’re all right. I’m just really proud of them both.”

Desert Island Discs has been a mainstay of BBC radio since 1942. On the show, celebrities are asked to select records they’d take with them if they were abandoned on a desert island, along with a book and a luxury item. Yorke included R.E.M.’s “Talk About the Passion,” Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush” and Talking Heads’ “Born Under Punches” among his musical choices, along with Shunryu Suzuki’s book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind and a portable audio recorder as his luxury.


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