The Radiohead Model

Today your regular bloggers have been replaced by Ben, Chris, Nick, and Jason of Death Cab For Cutie. The band’s new album Narrow Stairs is out now. DCFC are not professional bloggers, so please send them tips.

By Chris Walla
It feels, of late, like more has been written about “The Radiohead Model” than about the music Radiohead actually makes. It’s a fascinating game those guys play, all the ways they tell their story; the little corners they choose to lift to show off their flashy lights and old effects boxes. And, of course, their genuinely well-intentioned and sometimes peerless music.

We’ve now done scores of interviews around the release of Narrow Stairs. Most of them touch on some version of music industry gloom and doom, but I’m fascinated at how many of these interviewers frame that question in the context of “The Radiohead Model”: So, that thing Radiohead did — will you do it?; that other thing Radiohead did — would that work for you?; and so on.

My favorite thing about “The Radiohead Model” is that really, nothing dramatic happened … It’s available online, and also in stores. I trade my currency away to a retailer for a Radiohead product or experience. There isn’t such a new model. And that’s the most genius thing, to me, about In Rainbows … They’ve told a story everyone was dying to hear.

Also, advance word is that the record’s great.

You can check out Chris Walla’s cover of “Polyethylene (Parts 1 & 2)” on Stereogum Presents… OKX: A Tribute To OK Computer.