Saturday Telegraph magazine, 28/3/1998
Andy Yorke (brother of Radiohead's front man) has launched his own pop career. Interview by Francesca Ryan.
Imagine if you were a fledgling pop star how tiresome it would be if you were constantly asked about your more famous brother. But Andy Yorke, 26, younger brother of Thom Yorke, doesn't worry about being compared: 'Unbelievable Truth are sufficiently different from Radiohead,' says Yorke. 'There's no way I'd try and compete as Thom's a genius.' So, perhaps surprisingly, the prospect of living in the shadow of Thom's fame has not deterred Andy from starting his own band.
Unbelievable Truth take their name from the cult Hal Hartley film. 'The film is naturally askew,' says drummer Nigel Powell, 26. 'Similarly, we're not desperately trying to be different, but have just ended up at a tangent,' This is what makes their music so convincing. By combining satisfyingly complex lyrics with brooding guitar and rich strings, they convey grad, epic emotions with a delicacy that most British bands struggle to attain.
Hailing from Abingdon, near Oxford, the three band members met at school. Andy and Nigel had known each other since they were 15, and started the band in 1993, with the help of bassist Jason Moulster, 26. But when they were offered a publishing deal it seemed too much too soon. 'I didn't feel comfortable,' says Yorke. 'I wasn't ready to get involved with all the stuff that goes with being a musician.' So, he ran away to Moscow, as a translator for Greenpeace, returning in 1996 ostensibly to do an MA in Eastern European politics. Instead, he decided to restart the band.
By now, the success of Ride, Radiohead and Supergrass had put Oxford in Britain's musical map, so the band felt no need to move. 'If we'd come to London it would have made it a hell of a lot harder to get noticed,' says Yorke. And he was right; Oxford currently boasts 13 bands with record deals.
The band draw on an eclectic range of musical influences, including ambient artist Hugo Largo, Talk Talk, and even Gorecki's third symphony - 'It's not a million miles away from what we do,' says Powell. Yorke's lyrics on their debut album Almost Here (Virgin) tell of life's uncertainties, crumbling relationships and the constant search for contentment, but he finds them too personal to analyse. 'If you authoritatively explain a song, it limits the way your audience can interpret it.'
Despite the shadows cast throughout the album, Powell denies it's pessimistic: 'The songs are like travelling through the darkness to get to the light, rather than getting to the darkness and stopping.' The incandescent title track best illustrates this, and when Yorke's chillingly beautiful voice reaches the heights he sounds like his brother, but on a straight rather than twisted path.
And a year from now, where would the band like to be? 'Hopefully, success will happen, but not too quickly - I think it would be pretty destructive,' says Yorke. Unbelievable Truth are a refreshing antithesis to Britpop. They don't want overnight success, they don't live in London, they're not into drink and drugs, and they are painfully shy. But, best of all, they are definitely not the next Oasis.
c. Telegraph Magazine 1998