It’s no surprise that Bill Hader considers himself something of a nerd. The former Saturday Night Live comedian and Barry creator was able to flex his obscure pop culture knowledge in those gigs, but his true nerd side came out in deep dives like Documentary Now. It wasn’t just movies or comedy that got Hader in his geeky zen – music could have that same effect as well.
Surprisingly enough, the “cool” music that Hader’s peers were listening to in high school was actually jam band music. This was in the early-to-mid 1990s, when Jerry Garcia was at his cultural zenith, and the first wave of challengers to the crown was coming into play. Needless to say, Hader wasn’t quite in the same boat.
“If you wanted to hang out with the girls in my high school during junior and senior year, you had to listen to Phish and Dave Matthews Band and Blues Traveler,” Hader told Pitchfork. “Grateful Dead was huge. But especially Phish. It was all about Phish.”
“I listened to Phish, and it was fine. But then I left Tulsa and moved to Arizona for a little bit [for community college],” he added. “When I was there, I had a friend get in my car and put on OK Computer, and I went, ‘What is this?’ And he was like, ‘Oh, this is Radiohead.’ I was like, ‘Oh, you mean ‘Creep’? That band?’ I bought OK Computer the next day and just listened to it in my car, driving around. I was like, ‘This is awesome.’”
It was one song from OK Computer that truly solidified Hader’s geeky love for Radiohead – ‘Paranoid Android’. The epic prog-rock track had nods to another one of Hader’s core nerd texts, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. That connection solidified Hader’s love of the British rockers for good.
“’Paranoid Android’ had Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy stuff in it, and I was reading those books, so I felt this nerd kinship to it,” Hader claimed. “It wasn’t until the third or fourth time I heard it that I caught the lyrics, and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, this is sad.’ I was at a turning point in my life, too: Am I going to be fake, or am I going to be genuine?”
“I was trying to make short films and I wasn’t doing that great of a job at it,” Hader said. “I was like, ‘Do I want to stay in Arizona and get an associate’s degree, or do I want to move to L.A. and try to get a job on a film set?’ I really didn’t know what I was doing. So there was a lot of fear, which was probably why Radiohead was really important.”
Check out ‘Paranoid Android’ down below.