Radiohead site Ateaseweb might just be the most obsessive fan community on the web – several users have racked up over 50,000 posts. We asked a long-term member to give us an inside view
On Friday there were a lot of knee jerk judgements; a lot of people hated ‘The King Of Limbs’ right off the bat and were contacting the website help team demanding a refund on their £30 newspaper albums. A lot of people claimed it was their favourite album when they were still halfway through ‘Bloom’.
The forum was full of threads declaring “the end of Radiohead” and other such melodramatic sentiments. Some people seemed to think the whole thing was a joke and the “real” ‘TKOL’ would be released on Saturday as planned – and conspiracies about the rumoured ‘TKOL’ Part II are rife. Personally, I think it’s their most adventurous LP since 2001.
The boards are mostly pretty friendly except for the General Chat (Genchat) and music forums. In the Radiohead forums everyone is really superficially nice and friendly to each other, but really hostile to anyone who expresses even the slightest dislike or disappointment in any Radiohead album other than ‘Pablo Honey’. They’ll hold up positive reviews as good and negative ones as bad regardless of the quality of the writing.
Most people will have to endure a lot of hazing and nastiness before they’re accepted. Once people get accepted they tend to start meeting up with others (sometimes at gigs, sometimes just at separate meet-ups) and there are a lot of people who’ve become friends off the board since posting.
It wouldn’t be far-fetched to estimate that the majority of the hardcore boarders in the Genchat area have slept with or been in relationships with other boarders, sometimes over huge distances – one guy I know from there flew from the UK to Boston to bone another boarder – he spent two weeks there and she dumped him about a week later (he found out over the board).
The nicest thing anyone from the boards has done for me? There’s a lovely American lady who has paid for a hotel room for me on more than one occasion, which I’m enormously grateful for. She also loaned another boarder a significant (read: HUGE) amount of money after his life went totally off the rails.
Worst thing I’ve seen: the boarder mentioned above has been to a total dick to his American benefactor ever since the loan, and continues to upset her regularly. About a month ago a bunch of boarders drove a 15-year-old boy out of Genchat by threatening to email his posts to his dad (a lot of them were embarrassing or family-related).
There’s one member who has tried on multiple occasions to pick up under-age girls, and another female member who’s convinced that Thom Yorke is in love with her and wrote ‘In Rainbows’ as a concept album about leaving his wife for her. She moved from America to Oxford to be closer to him until she ran out of money and was forced to move back. She’s only ever met Thom once, for around five minutes.
I’ve been banned loads of times, but heaps of people have. The admin team has changed around a lot because previous admins have had breakdowns over trying to manage the board. Nobody really knows how to administrate Genchat since it’s meant to be “lawless” but gradually more rules get added after admins get fed up of complaints.
The whole place is kind of a cesspit, really, but that’s why it’s great.