Artist News Releases

Radiohead release archive of OK Computer demoes in response to ransom demand

By | Published on Wednesday 12 June 2019


Radiohead have released over sixteen hours of previously unreleased material from recording sessions for their ‘OK Computer’ album. This follows reports that an unnamed person had stolen the archive and was attempting to sell it for $150,000.

News of the unreleased material, which includes early demoes and live recordings, emerged after some Radiohead fans reported being approached by a bootlegger offering to sell it to them. Some were seemingly pitched the whole collection, while one Reddit user said that they had been offered a price of “$800 per studio track and $50 per live track”.

The band have responded by releasing the entire collection of music themselves on Bandcamp, charging £1 to download each of the eighteen minidisc’s worth of music. I have quite a good eye for a deal, so I can tell you now that £18 is a considerably better price than $150,000. Also, the money the band make will be donated to climate change activism charity Extinction Rebellion, rather than going to some opportunistic dickbag.

The archive will be officially available for eighteen days, after which you’ll have to pay whatever the aforementioned scammer is charging by then, or download it all on a file-sharing network. Neither of which you should actually do, obviously.

“We got hacked last week”, confirmed the band’s Jonny Greenwood on Twitter. “Someone stole Thom’s minidisc archive from around the time of ‘OK Computer”, he wrote, adding that that person seemingly tried to extort money by threatening to release it all, as well as subsequently trying to sell the files. “Instead of complaining – much – or ignoring it, we’re releasing all [of it] on Bandcamp in aid of Extinction Rebellion … So for £18 you can see if we should have paid that ransom”.

He added that the music in the release was “never intended for public consumption” and “only tangentially interesting”, as well as being “very, very long”.

In a message on the Bandcamp page for the release, Thom Yorke echoed this sentiment, saying that “it’s not v interesting” and “there’s a lot of it”. However, he went on: “As it’s out there, it may as well be out there until we all get bored and move on”.

So, hey, that’s really selling what is now a charity release, isn’t it? At least Extinction Rebellion was more upbeat about the whole thing, saying in a statement: “Extinction Rebellion would like to thank Radiohead for their gift and gesture of support … The climate and ecological emergency demands courage, truth-telling and generosity like never before. We are so grateful to Radiohead for showing us how that’s done, both now and in the lead up to the April rebellion. Words are inadequate but actions do change the world”.

Coincidentally, a new book published by the charity, ‘This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook’, is set for release tomorrow. So you could buy that too. Or just that. One or both, those are the options. Or neither, I suppose.

Anyway, get the big minidisc archive on Bandcamp here.