Airbag/How Am I Driving? is Radiohead's fifth EP, released in April 1998 specifically to the North American market. It includes most of the songs that had been issued as B-sides on Radiohead's CD singles from OK Computer in the previous year.
History and Recording
The contents of Airbag/How Am I Driving? differ slightly from the EP No Surprises/Running from Demons, released a few months earlier in Japan. The song Airbag, which opens OK Computer, was never officially released as a single. The version on this EP fades out rather than transitioning to the song Paranoid Android as it does on the album.
The sample that opens A Reminder is a recording from Prague Metro's automated announcement system: "Finish getting on and getting off; the doors are closing. The next station will be Jiřího z Poděbrad." An early version of Palo Alto was entitled 'OK Computer'.
The EP stylistically bridges the gap between the progressive-alternative OK Computer and Radiohead's experimental future sound, much as the My Iron Lung EP of 1994 had foreshadowed The Bends and OK Computer.
Release and Reception
On the EP cover, the number 1426148550 is given. It was a working UK telephone number, and the voice on the other end, which simply said, "Hello?" was that of Radiohead singer Thom Yorke. Fans could even leave a message, and some of the content was used in later productions. This number has been disconnected for years. Calling it, as of 2016, yields BT's standard "The number you have dialed has not been recognized" message. Yorke, in concerts at the time, joked that it is the number to call to report bad drivers.
Airbag/How Am I Driving? debuted at number 56 on the Billboard 200, selling 20,000 copies in its first week. Although only 25 minutes long, the EP gained the distinction of being nominated for a 1999 Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Performance, up against full-length albums by other artists.
The EP was re-issued in the Netherlands and the UK in early 2007. Before its re-release, the EP had been a highly sought-after item by Radiohead fans outside of North America. In 2009, the album was released by EMI on iTunes.
Meeting in the Aisle made its live debut in 2012 on The King Of Limbs tour alongside other B sides like The Amazing Sounds of Orgy from Radiohead's back catalogue that had not previously been performed in concert.