The Glorious Return of TV On The Radio

Universally beloved band TV on the Radio recently performed at the Apogee Studios, the private recording studio of legendary producer/engineer Bob Clearmountain in an intimate event hosted by KCRW. Introduced by Radio DJ Jason Bentley as one of the most “consistently innovative bands”, they played a set of songs from their highly anticipated album, Seeds, their first new record in 3 years. Being in a room with 150 other audience members, watching such a talented group (who seemed to barely fit the stage with all of their instruments and gear) becomes an even more compelling experience when you’re so close you can hear the unmiced tambourine shake (played by current touring band member, Smoota). In today’s music landscape, it’s refreshing to see a group of amazing instrumentalists, vocalists, and performers with such a unique sound masterfully command a stage – regardless of size – time and time again.

In between sets, Jason sat down the band members for an interview and got some interesting backstory and meaning behind a couple of their new songs.

I am fascinated with the fact that each of you are such creative individuals and have seemingly hundreds of pursuits even beyond the band. How do you reconcile that when you’re working together on an album? If you all have these strong personalities and perspectives, is there a key there?

Jaleel: I think you take breaks.

Tunde: Yeah, walking away from any situation and looking at it and seeing the best parts of it, and deciding to go with the best parts, it’s really key. But I think, between the group of us, just with every successive record or tour, whatever language we develop, we kind of get better at telepathically. I’ll write some kind of demo, and I’ll know who’s going to put what where. I describe it as a flawed democracy.

The song “Could You” seems really interesting to me because it captures a lot of different energies that you represent—talk about the song and anything that comes to mind in the writing or how it feels now.

Kyp: It’s easy to write songs of seduction – not “easy” but it comes. There’s a huge push to do that biologically and it’s just as easy to write, “he said, she said” and “woe is me” songs because that comes when you’re trying to process something. But just thinking about looking at the self and figuring out how to not be a dick to other people, how not to be a dick to yourself.. that’s what the song is about. We say “love” all the time and love is an easy thing to say.. but to show love to someone can be very challenging. And to show real love to yourself and other people is challenging. Writing a reminder to myself so every time I play it, I have to think about trying to be better to people.

I got one more song to talk about, “Lazerray”, which really jumped out to me as a jam, listening to the record. Any story about that song?

Tunde: I woke up, I went to a coffee shop, I had a double espresso, and I came home and I wrote it. I wrote a sketch for it, but when I got to Dave’s place—I was just messing around with words. In my mind, it’s a song about– this is going to sound ridiculous, but whatever.. it’s about staying in the moment and realizing that the moment could also be.. it’s the pure beam of energy that shoots into the past, and into the future, and is not concerned or aware of time. It’s kind of like, “this too shall pass” in hyper speed. It’s just going and going and going. It’s about that sort of energy– it’s not really concerned with temporal things. And it’s a punk song. That’s how I felt when I first heard punk rock. It’s like, “Come at me, I don’t care who you are. I’m going atomize you.”

A stream of their studio session and interview will be played on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic today, November 20th at 11:15AM PST and can be found on here.

Live photos by Ethan Shvartzman.

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