Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 16 September 2019

Radiohead responds to hackers' ransom demands by releasing trove of new music online

The band is also offering the downloads of an album comprised of the 18 hacked MiniDiscs – and will donate the proceeds to the environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion

Thom Yorke, left, and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead have earned the adoration of fans in the way they responded to a hack and ransom demand. AP 
Thom Yorke, left, and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead have earned the adoration of fans in the way they responded to a hack and ransom demand. AP 

They're already rock legends, but now Radiohead have won further kudos and public adoration after responding to a hack by releasing troves of private recordings and new music online.

On Tuesday, the alternative rock band responded to a ransom demand from computer hackers who stole a huge trove of private recordings from their 1997 album OK Computer, by uploading the music onto their website.

Hackers had originally sought a $150,000 (Dh551,000) ransom for the safe return of the recordings, which were 18 hours in length.

Instead, the English musicians called the hackers' bluff by uploading the 1.8-gigabyte collection (consisting of recording session outtakes and rare live performances) onto the band's website, where the songs can be accessed for free.

But the group didn't stop there. They earned the admiration of millions when they announced they would sell the downloads of an album comprised of the 18 hacked MiniDiscs for £18 – and would donate the proceeds to the environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion.

The band are vocal climate change and environmental activists themselves and their lyrics often reflect these views.

Extinction Rebellion's peaceful protests involved thousands of people and ground London to a halt for 11 days in April.

Guitarist Jonny Greenwood tweeted a statement acknowledging the hack, and the band's plans for retribution.

"We got hacked last week – someone stole Thom's minidisk archive from around the time of OK Computer, and reportedly demanded $150,000 on threat of releasing it," Greenwood wrote.

"So instead of complaining – much – or ignoring it, we're releasing all 18 hours on Bandcamp in aid of Extinction Rebellion."

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke also weighed in on the controversy, or lack thereof.

"We've been hacked," he wrote on the band's website.

"It's not v interesting," he added. "As it's out there it may as well be out there, until we all get bored and move on."

Extinction Rebellion thanked the band in a statement, saying: "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".

News of the hack first surfaced on a Reddit thread last week, on a Radiohead discussion page.

OK Computer was Radionhead's breakthrough album, earning them their first Grammy and winning international critical acclaim. It was followed by a major world tour that solidified their spot at the top of the alternative rock world.

It spawned the single Karma Police, one of the band's biggest hits.

Radiohead was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March.

Updated: June 12, 2019 01:12 PM

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