Interview: TV On The Radio
Tue, 07 Oct 2008 17:43:08
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We owe you an apology. Us creative types used to be afraid of you—what, with all your figures and computations. All that analytical talk hurt our oversized right brains, so we kept you at bay with finger paints and slam poetry. Then came TV On the Radio with their new album named in your honor, and just like that everything changed. You weren't some monster from the darkness to be feared. You were a lab coat in need of a costume party. The Brooklyn-based five piece saw the smile behind the safety goggles and felt inspired to turn out their most up-beat collection of electro-tinted shoegaze to date. Sure there's a complexity inherent to your algorithms, but where there are rhythms there's dance, and the band showed us that with the proper calibrations you can shake a calculator like a Polaroid picture. We were finally convinced when lead singer Tunde Adebimpe stopped by to tell us what he saw in you. He schooled us about how you influenced the band in the studio, and how every musician is just a huge dork anyway. Turns out, we had you all wrong Science. Can you ever forgive us?
When I first read about the album coming out, I was caught by surprise. Was that you guys sneaking it out or was it me missing things?
Well, actually I was just thinking about that. We were on tour, and I was talking to people after shows. It wasn't purposeful, but that's just how things kind of fell. We finished the record, and then it was turned over to the label over the summer. I don't know if it's better or worse when people know about it.
It's good in my opinion. Sometimes there's a little too much lead-time on things and albums peak too early.
I think it can be weird sometimes. It's almost like you're halfway there before you're there.
For a record called Dear Science, it sounds like you guys were having a little more fun this time around. Am I reading that right? Was it more fun?
Absolutely. This record came by quicker and more fun. I feel like we got all of the not fun out of our system. We definitely had tons and tons of situations that were not fun. There were some pretty logical steps to go and to move forward.
How has the name Dear Science been fitting into what's been happening lately?
It's kind of like a non sequitur. I feel like it's a good set of brackets to put the set of songs in. I don't really think about it that much, but if I had to, I'd like this record to be our contribution to science. The wonder and the retardation that science had inspired for the human race—this is our contribution.
Looking at what I've seen in this election season, science can use some friends. I don't want to step on anyone's beliefs, but 2+2 is 4 where I come from. There definitely seems to be a dance groove going on during this album. Was that on purpose?
That was absolutely on purpose. Whenever we go in, we try to work on a blank slate. There are very loose ideas going on. The one thing that came out of everyone's mouth was to make a record that moves a little more—more obviously danceable than some of the other grooves.
I'm a reformed raver. Are you out listening to dance music?
I don't really read any names. I'm sure I've heard a bunch of stuff I've dug recently. The fear of speaking a name and getting it wrong means I won't try. There's a lot of stuff that we're digging from.
Do you guys get out there and party? Are there a lot of keg stands going on or is it more literature amongst you all?
I've seen both sides of it. Everyone does their own thing. We spend a lot of times in doors, but when we do go out it's an equal and opposite reaction. We get lost for a few days. Not the healthiest thing to do.
The fans that you've cultivated can be a finicky crowd. Noses have been held up at fun before. Was there any internal fear of backlash when you made this album?
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