“Sometimes I make the bassline too complex and too noodly, but Thom is good at putting the brakes on that”: How Colin Greenwood came up with his deceptive stop-start bassline on Radiohead’s Airbag

Colin Greenwood of the band Radiohead is seen performing at the AmericanAirlines Arena on March 30, 2017 in Miami, Florida.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Colin Greenwood’s place in the music firmament is well established after almost four decades as bass guitarist of Radiohead. Beginning with their iconic debut single Creep, the band brought sonic sadness into the mainstream in 1993 via Thom Yorke’s languid vocals and the combined guitar crunch of Jonny Greenwood and Ed O’Brien. 

An amazing band, without doubt, yet Colin Greenwood’s ice-cool, syncopated basslines seldom fit within the categories of a ‘greatest bass guitarists’ list. “I think Colin Greenwood is one of the most unsung bass players out there,” John Garrison told Bass Player. “He's incredibly musical and his underpinning of Thom Yorke's melodies is amazing.”

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Nick Wells

Nick Wells was the Editor of Bass Guitar magazine from 2009 to 2011, before making strides into the world of Artist Relations with Sheldon Dingwall and Dingwall Guitars. He's also the producer of bass-centric documentaries, Walking the Changes and Beneath the Bassline, as well as Production Manager and Artist Liaison for ScottsBassLessons. In his free time, you'll find him jumping around his bedroom to Kool & The Gang while hammering the life out of his P-Bass.