Thom Yorke and co. once again push the boundaries of music and technology by streaming new album via Reddit fan forum, writes Buster Stonham.
Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich on Monday (18th February) participated in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” forum, taking questions from fans on not only the new Atoms for Peace album Amok, but also hinted at future tours and new Radiohead releases. The Yorke fronted super group, which also features Red Hot Chilli Peppers guitarist Flea, subsequently released a stream of their upcoming album which they announced once their forum had finished.
Hosting a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” or AmA is being increasingly used as a marketing tactic by bands and other public figures, allowing fans to closely interact with their idols, posing questions to them, in an unparalleled, open environment. Recent high profile figures to do AmAs include Sigur Ros, Bill Gates and even Barak Obama. Their appeal to music fans surely lies in the unprecedented access which they give to stars, and in return bands gain access to one of the most engaged and powerful online communities and all the internet “street cred” that goes with it.
Thom Yorke has always embraced the power of the online music community, something major labels usually avoid, due primarily to its widespread use of piracy, and has used innovative methods to distribute his music and connect with fans. Most notable was the release of In Rainbows in 2007, which was kept secret until its launch, when fans were able to choose what they paid for the album. The buzz that this created was so great and the idea behind it so revolutionary that it is still talked about today as a defining moment in music history.
Yorke has continued this tradition of surprising innovation with subsequent albums, keeping fans on their toes in anticipation of each new release. Amok is no different, as it was announced after the AmA that the full album would be available to stream on the band’s website, a full week before its official release. The website also has the ingenious feature of displaying an ever changing background of sites that link to the album stream, again creating a sense of fan community around this album. You can listen to the album in full via the player at the bottom of this article, where there is also a link to the main website.
But, for all this boundary pushing, what did we actually learn from this AmA about Amok and the future for Radiohead? Well, Tom and Nigel’s answers were typically cryptic on the most part, but they did give some insight into new material as well as joke around with some of the questioners. For instance, when asked what he thought of Amok being leaked, Thom answered “oh did it? How nice” and when asked if he preferred tea or coffee, the response was “ah finally something important. Today is a strong coffee day. 7am deserves it. I’m a pain in the arse without if that helps?”
Joking aside, there was actually some fascinating insight into Yorke’s song writing process. When asked his approach to lyrics, Tom stated that “what is within is [a] stream of consciousness is also gibberish and also just sounds. By the time the words have stuck, they have just stuck. The glue is set and I can’t undo.” Later when asked about the deciding whether a song will be a Radiohead track or a Atoms for Peace track he replied “it’s a grey area. Getting greyer [sic]. Obviously depends on who is being sampled.”
This answer may be worrying to Radiohead fans, many of whom are worried that Yorke’s side projects are mow his primary focus and that his love of dark electronic music is making his solo efforts indistinguishable from Radiohead’s latest sound. However, Yorke also revealed some exciting Radiohead news, hinting that the band may be getting together soon to work on new material: “we will be in the same room again in April/ May I guess. I hope.” There was also news of a potential new collaboration with Burial and Jack White, the latter of which they revealed “we now have two unfinished tracks, one of which is identikit.” ‘Identikit’ has made its way onto the set list at recent Radiohead concerts, including their headlining slot at Coahella last year. The track features prominent guitar parts as well as electronic beats and is definitely a Radiohead track rather than an Atoms For Peace track, differing greatly from what features on Amok.