Radiohead Talk To The Times About Their Big Ideas

The New York Times showed some love to Radiohead this weekend with a profile on the band and their priceless new album (as well as honoring Radiohead Payment Model, The with a slot in the Magazine’s annual Year In Ideas feature). The Pareles penned article starts great…

SHORTLY after Radiohead released its album “In Rainbows” online in October, the band misplaced its password for Max/MSP, a geek-oriented music software package that the guitarist Jonny Greenwood uses constantly. It wasn’t the first time it had happened, Mr. Greenwood said over a cup of tea at the venerable Randolph Hotel here. As usual Radiohead contacted Max/MSP’s developers, Cycling ’74, for another password. “They wrote back,” Mr. Greenwood said, “‘Why don?t you pay us what you think it’s worth?'”

…and stays there, with Thom quoting Maya Arulpragasam in explaining why the band chooses a superstar free-agent status over the security of a long-term label deal (“[That] would have killed us straight off … Money makes you numb, as M.I.A. wrote.”), discussing the far-flung places that had registered Rainbows downloads (like North Korea and Afghanistan), and Parales’s multiple Malcolm Gladwell appropriations (so many ’07 music business “tipping point”s!).

But the best part:

Behind much of the album ?was a sudden realization of the day-t0-day, tenuous nature of life.?

He talks in maths! (Really, copy-and-paste to see that’s a zero and not an “o,” both online and in print. Very serious about the 1N RA1NB0WS binary theory, those NYT editors.)

Anyway, don’t expect those figures from the “no really it’s up to you” experiment (“It’s our linen,” [Radiohead manager Chris] Hufford said. “We don?t want to wash it in public.”), although the band is quick to dispel that ComScore report stating most people downloading it for free (although, the Times notes, if ComScore’s $2.26/album revenue prediction is on, under the present model for record label sales that would still work out to Radiohead’s benefit).

Also, this is pretty cool, coming after a brief discussion of the transformation the In Rainbows tunes took in the studio:

For ?All I Need,? Mr. Greenwood said, he wanted to recapture the white noise generated by a band playing loudly in a room, when ?all this chaos kicks up.? That sound never materializes in the more analytical confines of a studio. His solution was to have a string section, and his own overdubbed violas, sustaining every note of the scale, blanketing the frequencies.

“Blanketing the frequencies,” coating the spectrum, almost like a rainbow. Or, “Roygbiv.” Rainbows. Why is that Radiohead makes us like drooling potheads discussing 2001: A Space Odyssey? Well…

Mr. Hufford said that he and Bryce Edge, Radiohead?s other manager, had come up with the pay-what-you-want plan during a stoned philosophical conversation about the value of music.

Guess we’re not alone. And, how best to avoid people listening to and leaking your demo, should they find it? Pretend it’s by Kula Shaker.

And, reminder: Your last day for it to really be up to you.

Tags: Radiohead