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Bloc Party Goes For Surprises On New Album

Of the Oakland Press

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Bloc Party was all about the power of surprise for its latest album.

The British modern rock group rolled out "Intimacy," its third album and the follow-up to last year's "A Weekend in the City," on Aug. 21 via its web site. The kicker; Bloc Party didn't tell anybody it was coming until it just showed up that day.

"This was a complete secret," says drummer Matt Tong. "I didn't even tell my wife or my parents. Literally about six or seven people knew, and that's including the band, that we were doing to do this surprise release.

"The shock announcement just seemed like the quickest way we could go about it. It freed us from having to plan too far in advance and go through the meticulous promotional scheme where you sit on the record for six months to make sure all the pieces are in place before you put it out. We found that really frustrating, 'cause we want to be as prolific as possible.

"This way we were able to get the music into the shape we wanted and just put it out there for people to have."

Bloc Party hasn't abandoned the traditional CD, however; that will come out on Oct. 28, and with more than the 10 songs that are part of the digital download (those buyers will get a copy of the terrestrial CD, too). "It's all gonna be good stuff," Tong says of the additional material. "We're not in the business of short-changing anybody."

So far the surprise download plan has been well received, and "Intimacy's" first single, "Mercury," is already in the U.K. Top 10. Tong says the only complaints have been what he feels is an unfair comparison to the way fellow British rockers Radiohead released their latest album, also via the Internet.

"I think obvious comparisons have been drawn to Radiohead," Tong, 29, notes, "and the fact we weren't able to offer our fans the opportunity to name their price for the album like (Radiohead) did. But they could afford to because they weren't in a record contract at the time and thus had no financial obligation like that.

"But we were still able to make the Internet release a cheaper price than a physical release, so I think that made people happy."

Bloc Party and Holy F**K! perform Friday (Sept. 5) at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 31 W. Fourth St. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30. Call (248) 399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

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