"It's all fucked"
Radiohead in a spin after new album pitches up online.
The year's most anticipated album has arrived more than two months ahead of schedule. After endless fanfare, Radiohead's Hail To The Thief was finally set for worldwide release on 9 June. Except what seemed to be the finished version of the band's sixth album made a dramatic appearance on the internet on 30 March, with downloaded copies instantly circulated among geeks hungry for new material.
Radiohead themselves were understandably distressed, insisting that the bootleg was an early draft dating back to sessions at Los Angeles's Ocean Way studios in February before they had begun the mixing process.
"Having our music stolen was annoying because it wasn't finished." says bassist Colin Greenwood. "It was like being photographed with one sock on when you get out of bed in the morning. We don't know who it was. It could be anyone cos it's digital."
Although initially outraged ("It's stolen work for fuck's sake," was guitarist Jonny Greenwood's reaction), the band have now calmed down. Colin Greenwood even expressed dismay at the stern cease-and- desist letters sent by record label EMI to radio stations playing the tracks, as well as any fansite hosting illegal MP3 files.
"Don't record companies usually pay thousands of dollars to get stations to play their records?" he says. "Now they're paying money to stations not to play them."
Listeners to those stations would have heard enough to realise that Radiohead have relaxed slightly. The eccentricities that marked the Kid A years remain but, on tracks such as ‘2+2=5’ and ‘There There’, they are lightened by blasts of guitar. Legal crackdown aside, anyone who knows a computer literate Radiohead obsessive ought to be able to get hold of a copy of the whole album without much trouble. Which only adds to the band's current state of confusion.
"It's all fucked," says Greenwood, obviously still reeling. "It's mad. It's brilliant and it's terrible. It's a brave new world."