After some frustrating posts in code on the website, which send a segment of the boardies into such turmoil that it makes the news, various faffings about on the Radiohead.TV website and a general feeling that Mr Donwood has a bit too much time on his hands…the Radiohead rumour mill is in overdrive.
On September 30th I get an email from Tim advising me to look at Radiohead.com if I haven’t already, as I “might be interested.” Suddenly all the slightly frantic texts my phone received after I’d gone to bed make sense.
Having hit a low with my job as well as failing to get anywhere near my dreams of working in radio, this bit of excitement couldn’t have come at a better time.
When the album eventually drops, I have to hurriedly download it before leaving for a long train journey to be at a funeral. Headphones, as always, offer a safe harbour from reality.
In Radiohead-land, everything is clicking into gear. In Oxford a boardie spots Thom out jogging (jogging!) and we speculate that he’s “getting match fit”.
There is a ton of press surrounding the “pay what you want” concept of the In Rainbows release. The music itself hasn’t quite hit yet and the band aren’t doing interviews. There have been none of the usual months of build up, no reviews and then a ton of ill-thought-out spontaneous diatribes from music journalists who feel left out.
Radiohead have “broken the music industry.” A moment to relish for those of us who realised that they’d been trying to do exactly that since as far back as Pop Is Dead.
Tim emails back to ask me if I can take the temperature of the reactions to the release of “my mates and the people on the message boards.” I throw back a few thoughts. £40 for the box set, which basically contains a whole album campaign’s worth of tracks is actually less than you’d pay for an old style album and CD single sets so I’m happy to pay it.
A webcast entitled ‘Thumbs Down’ happens on the evening of 10th November, it’s stuttery but less jerky now I have broadband and a second-hand beige tower PC replacing the temperamental iMac. I’m able to watch it all, until in the last ten minutes, the sound fails. (Later on Max K rescues the missing section and puts it up again). The webcast is over two hours long, filled with performances of the new songs, Adam Buxton video skits and covers of The Smiths’ Headmaster Ritual and New Order’s Ceremony. Radiohead are in charge at last and they seem to be enjoying it.
In Rainbows is the most distilled essence of Radiohead’s sound that they have so far produced. I, inevitably, order the full £40 box set and take my download straightaway. My first listens are filtered through an onslaught of emails from people who are doing exactly the same thing simultaneously.
Safe in the knowledge that the tour won’t follow until next year, there is time to prepare to do it properly. In November I join a large group of boardies at ATP’s Nightmare Before Christmas curated by Portishead. Much of the time in Minehead is spent trying to keep warm, socially lubricating on Holiday Camp lager and hanging about waiting to see if the rumours we’ve heard about Colin turning up to do in an unannounced DJ set are true.