Radiohead: new album is finished, and could be in your hands by November
A new Radiohead album could be with us sooner than you think. It's been four yers since their last studio album 'Hail to the Thief', and in that time there has been a Thom Yorke solo record, compilations and collaborations from Jonny Greenwood and – for the last two years at least – sessions for the band's seventh studio album.
However, despite a few false starts – most notably there was anticipation of a release following the band's V 2006 appearance – it appears you could have a new Radiohead album in your hands within months.
Guitarist Ed O'Brien recently posted a message on the band's site from the studio declaring, "I know it's been a while... but we've been working on this album for a while... BUT WE ARE NEARLY THERE..."
In fact, he was closer than he dared admit – 10 years to the month since 'OK Computer', NME has been told by a reliable source that the band have now completed it.
There's one small snag, mind: they don't currently have a record deal. Radiohead honoured their contract with Parlophone with their last album and when Yorke spoke to NME last year he said being free of the traditional record label structure was helping Radiohead's work: "I think it's a nutty situation to be in, to have no definite release system. It's really liberating not to feel part of the record company structure. It should be an extremely positive place to be in but it's also an extremely strange situation to be in," he explained. "One of the things you realise really quickly when you're not committed to anything is that you need some level of commitment because otherwise you just start fucking about, which is what we did for ages." With a proven fanbase and people clamouring for the new record, it's unlikely the band will sign a conventional deal ever again.
"When Radiohead signed with EMI originally they did so on a five album deal. I think it's fair to say we won't see the band signing anything like that for their future recordings," Stuart Clarke, talent editor of industry bible Music Week said. "They're in a far more powerful position now. They have an established global audience and – regardless of the album they deliver – a guaranteed number of people that will go out and buy it so, to a certain degree, they can dictate their own terms."
It seems the band will follow in the footsteps of Prince by signing a distribution deal with a big label. In 2004 Prince inked a deal with Columbia Records to manufacture and distribute the independently produced 'Musicology'. He did the same thing with 2006's '3121', that time with Universal. It's a system Thom Yorke has also tried.
"When Thom Yorke signed with XL for his solo album he did so on a one-album deal and I think, going forward, this is a far more likely scenario for the band," Clarke added. "Partnering with a strong independent in the UK for one album, and bringing in a major label to manage the rest of the world would make sense. Globally, though, I do think the band need to be with a major label, purely because they're the only organisations set up to deal with the demand a band like Radiohead attracts."
So, with a record finished and the means to distribute via a major label without selling out, how soon till we get it? November seems to be a strong possibility.
"Assuming they end up on a major, no label worth their salt is going to allow potentially one of the biggest releases of the year to come about before the fourth quarter (September/December). It wouldn't make any sense," declares Clarke. "The best case scenario for a label would be to get the new record out in November and capitalise on Christmas sales."
A selection or recording outtakes have been posted online by producer Nigel Godrich. Songs including 'Open Pick', 'All I Need', 'Down is the New Up' and 'Arpeggi' have all been discussed as potential album tracks. Following the sight of Thom Yorke traipsing through the Glasto mud last week – and Michael Eavis' claims he has headliners in the bag for 2008 – Radiohead's return doesn't look far away.