TV on the Radio: Return to Cookie Mountain


With all the post-grunge irony and retro-garage sounds, it's rare in rock and roll these days to find a band as talented, original and passionate as TV on the Radio. Led by Tunde Adebimpe's lauded vocals, his haunting harmonies with guitarist Kyp Malone are just a hint at the effortlessly dynamic chemistry of the group. In the midst of their world tour, following two sold-out hometown shows in New York, CH checked in with drummer and founding member Dave Sitek to get a sense of the friendships that are the foundation of the band, what it was like making their latest and fourth album Return to Cookie Mountain and about increasing the peace. Check it out here.

It seems like you’re all good friends. How did you meet?
I moved to NYC with 65 bucks and wound up in a loft in Brooklyn with a bunch of broke artists who were pretty cool. We were all unemployed-slash-unemployable so we just started to make music together.

So, at this stage, how does the creative process work? How was making this album different than your other albums?

A lot more people were involved when recording this album. But you know, our creative process is probably drink a lot of caffeine, smoke a little weed and guess. We’re just guessing and there’s plenty of trial and error.
We were willing to spend an enormous amount of time on this record.

It seems like selling out is irrelevant to you. How do you manage to stay grounded in the face of fame?
The short answer is were in our thirties. I don’t believe there’s a lot that divides us and everyone else anymore. We’re paying rent and taking shits and trying to figure it out. The term selling out is a weird one for me. I just consider it buying in. We don’t do anything that we don’t think is appropriate. People say “Oh your song is on a TV show,” but then they have $5,000 of stolen music on their iPods.

I noticed that everyone at your show was older and while they were totally rapt, but they were also really sedate. What’s that like for you?

Everywhere it’s totally different. In Europe there are 45 year-olds that rock harder than kids in the states. People are really worried about what other people think instead of what they feel. I don’t know why people are more self-conscious now than in punk days. I think in general, because of what’s happening in the world, people are just scared.

Your music doesn’t strike me as overtly political. What kind of role do you think politics plays in your music?

We’re not directly. We’re not trying to throw campaign slogans in anybody’s face.
But because were trying to write a record from a humanitarian perspective, it’s impossible to avoid political overtones and undertones. It’s not possible to write about the world and not include politics and it can spill over into social politics and sexual politics.
Lack of subtly is a sign of a civilization in decline. For us, it’s a living, breathing thing.

Increase the peace. I think an important thing—if I could say anything to the audience— we’re all in this together and it is solvable. The world has gone through some tumultuous times and we can change.