We’ve received about 234 e-mails regarding the sorta-leak of the White Stripes’ Icky Thump that happened last night–yesterday, a Chicago DJ named Electra played the record in its entirety, and some enterprising soul with a really crummy signal decided to tape it off of his radio and turn it into MP3s. (We’ve listened to them, and trust us: The songs are good, but unless you really, really want to get vaguely nauseated by the bottom-of-the-barrel fidelity of the files, you’re best off passing on the Sendspace links.)
Anyway, word of Icky Thump‘s escape from pre-release embargoland reached Jack White–who was all the way in Spain–pretty quickly, and instead of sending the Web Sheriff after Electra, he rang up the station. She recounted the tale on her blog:
At 4pm today, Jack White called Q101′s main offices from Spain, where they’re touring, looking specifically for me, to yell at ME for leaking the album and, in part, being “messed up for the entire (music) business.” (Edit – I listened to the call again today, and I apologize for initially misquoting Jack.) I felt like I was going to throw up. Weirdest, most surreal conversation of my life.
Jack asked me to take responsibility for leaking the record, and asked if I was sorry for what I’d done. S&T both jumped into the call – I was clearly flustered – and backed me 100%. We tried to explain where we were coming from – someone gave us a copy of a record that we were really excited to play, and the whole experience was an hour-long lovefest for him and his band – but he wasn’t having it. He hung up, very, very angry, and I thought I was going to cry. Instead, I drank some beers that the Fix had left in the studio. Room temperature Bud Light. Delicious.
After speaking to Jack’s manager and getting their side of the story, Spike and I went on the air with S&T to open up the situation to the listeners. We respected Jack’s desire not to be on the air and didn’t re-air the call, but we talked about what was said and what happened. I’m extremely grateful to everyone who called in supporting us. I don’t think I did anything wrong, and I don’t think I am helping to ruin the music industry. I think I made people excited for the new White Stripes record. I know that was our intention.
A noble explanation, and really, one that may have flown in the pre-download era. But now? Considering that the radio-to-radio-rip process is lightning-fast, “enthusiasm” like Electra’s is rarely contained to a moment in time, or even a geographical area. And the fact that the songs sound like they’re coming out of a tin can probably makes the circulated leak even more annoying for White, who gave his recording process a slight upgrade on this album. (Who knows? Maybe the crummy fidelity will make people want to buy the record–okay, okay, we’re being naive.)