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Watch Thom Yorke play Ed O’Brien’s signature Fender Strat on The Smile’s new track, Bodies Laughing

Thom Yorke using a Fender Ed O'Brien Sustainer Strat
(Image credit: Ehsan/YouTube)

Thom Yorke has appeared onstage using his Radiohead bandmate Ed O’Brien’s signature Stratocaster to perform a new track Bodies Laughing.

Yorke debuted the song during a performance at Berlin’s Tempodrom venue on May 20 with his side-project The Smile (who have only recently released their debut album).

“So, yesterday we wrote another new song,” explained Yorke, before they performed the song. “So we’re gonna try and play it. No: we’re going to play it. There’s no mistaking [it]. As long as you guys know how it starts, we’ll be all right… It’s called Bodies Laughing.”

The song is a swirling, fragile and, dare we say it, weirdly funky guitar-led tune that revolves around the line “everybody’s laughing… we can’t control it anymore”. 

The Smile also features Sons of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner, alongside Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood. However, fan footage shows Yorke using what appears to be a signature guitar of his other Radiohead collaborator, Ed O’Brien, to perform the song.

The signature model is usually easy to identify thanks to its unique pickup configuration (a Seymour Duncan JB Jr humbucker in the bridge, Texas Special single coil in the middle and Fernandes Sustainer in the neck) and the two mini-toggle switches that control the Sustainer. 

Yorke’s EOB Strat seems to have been modded slightly, with black pickup covers in the bridge and neck, though – to the best of our zoom/YouTube identification ability – they appear to be the same units.

Indeed, Yorke does launch into several solo sections throughout Bodies Laughing that appear to make use of the Sustainer, alongside some unseen effects, which would explain its selection. 

Either way, it seems Ed O’Brien’s signature model is proving inspirational to his bandmates, too. Perhaps they'll want to pick up some of the gear that O’Brien has recently put up for auction, too.

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Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk (opens in new tab), which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.