After a moment, Jenkins (right) was sold on the idea. Starting Monday, the band will allow fans to mix and remix songs from Ursa Major before they even hear what it sounds like, on the Indaba music collaboration site. This appears to be the first time a band plans to intentionally leak the components that make up album in advance of its release.
"We were just sort of brainstorming, and (McBride) was the one who said, 'You know, I'd like to see you put out stems before you put out the album, so that there isn't one preconceived notion of what this is," Jenkins told Wired.com.
"For a moment, I thought, 'Wow, I've always been so in control. I've always produced everything I've done (with the help of a mixer), every record I've made'... (McBride's) response was, 'spread the bounty, and the bounty will come.'"
Jenkins saw the value in letting go of some of that control by giving fans the stems for free before the band has finalized its own mixes, so that mixers and remixers will be starting from the raw elements with no way of knowing what the released version of the album will sound like. The best mixes and remixes will be selected by the band for a digital compilation album to accompany the official version.
According to Jenkins, this is an unusually social and productive use of technology.
"I love it! I love the generosity, the inclusiveness of it," he exclaimed. "What Indaba has is the ability to use technology to actually make the community smaller. We constantly have this conversation going on where these totally socially maladjusted kids who are vitamin D deprived are sitting in their rooms, unable to reach and communicate with each other, and that's basically what's happened with technology... (on the other hand,) far from being technology as something that isolates, this technology brings people together in a really productive and creative way."
Fans will be able to watch the band recording in the studio and will get the chance to mix and/or remix tracks soon after all the parts have been recorded, according to Indaba co-founder Dan Zaccagnino.
"Every time they finish tracking a song, they are going to put the stems up -- probably every three weeks to a month," he explained via email. "Then, for each set of stems, there will be a contest for people to create the most interesting mixes/remixes," with the winners to be featured on the Ursa Major companion compilation.
When asked whether people would stay true to the spirit of the material or whether they would transport songs into techno and other genres, Jenkins had a great answer:
"We're not giving them the spirit of the material," he said. "The spirit is actually not in the individual tracks, its in the total mix, so they're going to have to take that and define that spirit... I want people to take the music that we've made and be able to pass that through their own intelligence, and Indaba is this tool for them to do that. I like me some dirty bass and some good, evil one-note techno. I just got back from Burning Man."