TV On The Radio

TV On The Radio
If you haven’t heard TV on the Radio yet, put this down and go straight to the record store. The Brooklyn-based band—lead vocalist Tunde Adebimpe, guitarist-keyboardist David Andrew Sitek, vocalist-guitarist Kyp Malone, bassist Gerard Smith, and drummer Jaleel Bunton—not only is responsible for one of last year’s most mindblowing records, the rock-soul-techno-punk-jazz-electro-inflected Return to Cookie Mountain, but they give a shit about the planet, too. And, they wear Loomstate! What does Adebimpe have to say for himself? We called him four times and got no answer. Then he called us.

Where’d you go?
Sorry about that. The music was blaring and I didn’t hear my phone ringing.

What were you listening to?
Scribble Mural Comic Journal by A Sunny Day in Glasgow. It sounds kind of like My Bloody Valentine but with beats and what I’m making out to be a female singer, but I’m not entirely sure. It’s really beautiful.

You must be on your way to Detroit for tonight’s show.
Actually, we cancelled it and we’re back in Williamsburg. Last night we were at our show in Albany and the bus kind of never really made it to pick us up. We had to call a car service to drive us back to Brooklyn. We realized it would really hurt the show if we had to get up at 6 a.m. to fly to Detroit.

Do bus drivers abandon you often?
A couple of years ago I got left behind. I went to the bathroom at a gas station in the middle of nowhere, and came out and was looking for the van for a while. I don’t remember where I was, but I definitely didn’t look like I belonged there. I was like, ‘OK, guys, very funny, time to come out from behind the McDonald’s.’ A couple of days later, we thought we left Kyp behind. We went halfway back to the gas station and found him sleeping on the floor in the back of the van.

So after this tour ends, when will you start working on the next record?
I think the plan is to get together around October or
November and have a big show and tell. At the very least, we’ll be recording by early next year. It’s always a little nerve-wracking, that whole ‘making something out of nothing’ thing. But usually after a couple of bumps it’s way fun. Until then, everyone’s doing stuff; David is always producing other bands, Kyp is recording his own stuff. After the tours end, everyone kind of scatters and gets their life back.
What about your own stuff?
I’m doing a book of drawings and paintings. They’re portraits done in gouache and acrylic with a bit of collage. I’m trying to go cross-country and sit with people I know and people I’ve met on the road. I’m basically going to paint their head and shoulders based on a picture I take, and the bottom will have a quote taken from our conversation. I want to have a CD on the back that will have excerpts of the conversations recorded. I also do stop-motion animation.

Why do you wear Loomstate?
We started wearing the clothes about a year ago and since then we’ve been totally abusing their kindness. It’s just really, really cool. It’s totally inconspicuous and not
flashing some dumb logo. It feels awesome to wear nicely made clothes that hold you as you wear them. Plus, you can grow your own cotton plant from the seed in the label!

How are yours growing?
[Laughs] Mine are still sitting on the shelf. I don’t really have space to grow anything in my apartment.

How green are you?
I would call myself a person who absolutely loves living on the planet and wants to keep it healthy. Even when New York seems to stop its recycling program, which it does from time to time, I’ll collect all the recyclables in my building and take them somewhere that does. I don’t drive, but if I did, it would definitely be a biodiesel car.

Are your tour buses biodiesel-fueled?
We’re always renting buses, so it’s a weird thing to try and rent a biodiesel bus. We tried once and were promptly cautioned against it. That was a while ago, before anyone thought we had any clout.



In other words, everyone who reads this should buy your records so that you can buy a biodiesel bus.
Yes!


What else do you do as a band for the planet?
I don’t think per se that writing a song about saving the world will help save the world, but in a way, some of our songs are about being in the world and watching it slowly react to the poisons that have been distributed on it, whether psychological poisons or actual physical poisons. A lot of them are about looking at a landscape that’s half rocks and trees and half Styrofoam and steel, reflections of being in a world that’s both beautiful and kind of ugly.

Speaking of which, we’ve got a story about urban composting in this issue. Would you try it?
Definitely. I totally, totally would. It’s worked for billions and billions of years. Crap makes things grow!

Last but not least: Are you afraid of the wooly 8-foot organic cotton robot in the Loomstate office?
I’m not afraid; I’m a little concerned. He seems like he’s waiting to spring into action. What kind of crime would have to take place for him to go down four floors and take some organic cotton action to the streets of New York?

You tell me.
I don’t know. I think the organic cotton robot is all talk and no do.

Maybe he’s waiting to make an appearance in
your next video.

Maybe you’re right.

FOR THE RECORD:Tunde’s Current Favorites • Panda Bear, Person Pitch “It’s embarrassing how much I listen to it.”• Justice, † “People in my band really hate it, but I’m not one of them.” • Green Arrows, 4-Track Recording Session •Trojan Records Rocksteady Box Set