Radiohead's official website was back online last night after overwhelming demand for the band's new album caused it to crash. Traffic on the site slowed to a crawl after the rock group told fans on Monday that they could pre-order the new release, In Rainbows, from www.radiohead.com at any price they wanted.
The band's spokesman, Murray Chalmers, said the collapse of the site was caused by waves of British fans logging on after the announcement about the album. They were followed by fans on the east coast of the US, who woke to the surprise news, followed by Radiohead enthusiasts on the west coast.
"It's getting busy in there, busier than they expected," guitarist Jonny Greenwood wrote of the band's official W.A.S.T.E. store, which is selling In Rainbows. "So, if you please bear with us, it should get cleared out soon." He added: "I sound like a bouncer. Get behind the rope. No denim. Thanks for your patience with the site and interest in the record."
The 10-track album will be available to download from 10 October, with a £40 "discbox" version including two CDs, two records, artwork and booklets following on 3 December.
Mr Chalmers said engineers had ironed out the problems with the website yesterday. So far, he added, most fans were pre-ordering the discbox and very few were trying to download the album for next to nothing.
He said: "Although the idea is that you can decide what you want to pay, most people are deciding on a normal retail price, with very few trying to buy it for a penny."
In Rainbows is the band's first release without a record label since they fulfilled their contract with Parlophone after 2003's Hail To The Thief. The Oxford-based outfit are in talks with EMI Music – which owns the Parlophone label – about their future, along with a number of other companies.
Radiohead were formed in 1986 and have sold more than 20 million albums and singles worldwide. They have kept the same line-up of Thom Yorke, Ed O'Brien, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood and Phil Selway since the start but have changed their musical style with almost every release, dividing critics and fans alike.
Since news of the album broke on Sunday, Radiohead have risen from No 15 to No 3 on the Buzz 100 chart compiled by the US rock magazine Billboard, which measures blog traffic.