TV On The Radio Biography
Though Nine Types of Lightwill sound like an album full of love songs, often the true meaning of thesongs lie deeper. On "You," Tunde sings a haunted refrain; you're the only one I have ever loved.The sincerity of his voice sells the idea of absolute adoration. But Tundeexplains, "It's a song about the feeling you get sometimes when you'reexpressing how much you care about someone but resorting to these beautifulsounding lies. You're the only one I ever loved? It's a terrible thing to sayto someone because it's most likely not true."
2. Nine Types of Light is the fourth albumfrom TV on the Radio. You will want to refer to it as the "fourth properstudio album" from TV On The Radio; those albums were preceded by an EP, Young Liars, and an 18-track handmadeCD called OK Calculator, that isconsidered more like a demo tape (because it was "released" by beinghidden in random sofa cushions of New York coffee shops). Enhancing nearlyevery aspect of their Shortlist Prize-winning Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, 2006’s Return to Cookie Mountain was released to crazy universal acclaim. Rolling Stone said “It might be the mostoddly beautiful, psychedelic and ambitious album of the year,” with The New York Times agreeing: “It's more experimental yet catchier, more introspective yet moreassertive, by turns gloomier and funnier, and above all richer in both soundand implication. ‘Return to CookieMountain’ is simply one of this year's best albums.”
Nine Types of Light is the follow-up tothe band's gorgeous, glorious 2008 release, Dear Science, and proved to be its breakout release. It was namedalbum of the year by Rolling Stone, Spin,Pitchfork, Entertainment Weekly andMTV; and touring behind the album, the group sold out a year's worth oflive shows across the world. This, however, did not prevent everyone fromreferring to TV On The Radio as a Brooklyn band. That is not a bad thing. Thegroup – Tunde Adebimpe, Kyp Malone, DaveSitek, Jaleel Bunton, Gerard Smith – are indeed from Brooklyn.
3. But sometimes it's ok to leave. The band recorded Nine Types of Light in Los Angeles, thefirst time they have recorded outside of Brooklyn. In 2010, the group'smulti-instrumentalist, producer and sometimes beat-boxer, Dave Sitek, moved toLos Angeles because that's where the money he wanted a change ofscenery. Nine Types of Light wasrecorded at his home studio. The experience of recording away from the friendlyconfines of Greenpoint and Williamsburg wasn't such a pleasant one, however,but not because of any reactionary dislike of LA that sometimes comes from NewYorkers. "I actually like Los Angeles a lot," says Jaleel. "Butif there's a bohemian part of the city, a place that can be a creativesanctuary, we were staying in a place that was the opposite."
"It was in a high-end mall down the street from Rodeo Drive,and a few blocks from the Modern Institute of Plastic Surgery," saysTunde. "And they were doing construction on our floor the whole time wewere there. It wasn't so much squalor as it was…if I were a door-to-doorsalesman, it's where I would kill myself."
Nine Types of Light was written andrecorded in about three months – slightly quicker than they've recorded anyprevious album.
4. TV On The Radio do not write traditional pop songs. Often, theychange direction two or three times in one song. Distorted guitars, saunteringand reverberating bass,
TVOTR tunes are just-barely containing an explosive amount ofenergy underneath itself – and that tension is nothing less than thrilling. Ithas become somewhat of a signature of the band, particularly matched withTunde's serene and poetic vocals. On this album, the group takes an admittedlysimpler approach to some of their songs. "Will Do," starts out withwind chimes before giving away to that trademark buzz, with Tunde singing aboutthe yearning for his ungovernable, unrequited love of another. "I thinkthe songs on this album, to me, maybe sound simpler," Tunde says."But it just might be that we have gotten better at what we do."
Other songs on Nine TypesOf Light include more up-tempo post-rock jams like "No Future Shock"(vocals by Kyp) and the '80s-rap-beat "Caffeinated Consciousness,"which sounds like it was influenced by Big Audio Dynamite.
5. Nine Types of Light might sound like apeculiar name for an album. Perhaps a reference to a core scientific principleon the refraction of sunlight. Or a grand ideology of film or photographytechniques. But the album title actually isn't a reference to anythingspecific, the band says. It holds no cryptic meaning. "It's something thatkept circling around in my head," Tunde says. "It struck me as oddthat that phrase, when you keep it to just nine types of light, it's excludinga billion other types of light. I like how it's a little slippery." Thus,no one should ask Tunde to actually list the nine types of light he isreferring to.
6. There is a cycle that a band goes through with each release thatinvolves recording an album, releasing it and then touring behind it. For agroup with a loyal and growing fan-base like TV On The Radio, that cycle canlast about two years, which is an awful lot of time to spend with people in a highly-creativeenvironment. This is what happened after Dear Science. "After the lastshow (for Dear Science), I just wanted to do anything that wasn't this,"Tunde explains. "It was such an intense experience – not bad or goodnecessarily, just intense. I spent a lot of time after that writing and drawingpictures." Says Gerard Smith, "It allows us to do the other things wewant to do, or to just decompress, and then come back to the band with somefocus. We don't ever want to feel like we have to do this, that it's a job,necessarily."
7. As celebrated and wonderful as TV On The Radio is, the entity isnot enough to contain the entire creative thirst of its members, and the band'sfive members accomplished in the time between albums. Tunde and Gerard wroteand composed music for "The Lottery," a documentary that looks atpublic education through the eyes of Harlem's Success Academy annual intakelottery. Tunde also worked on a series of short films that he says may or maynot ever see the light of day. He, of course, also starred in theOscar-nominated film, Rachel GettingMarried. Gerard spent time making music on his own, producing new musicfrom the NYC-based Midnight Masses. Jaleel spent the period in between recordsmoving out from behind the drums to playing guitar again, his first instrument.He also played in the blues and gospel band, Reverend Vince Anderson & HisLove Choir ("One of my favorite gigs ever," he says), and continuedto periodically tend bar at legendary Lower East Side bar, Max Fish.
Dave Sitek released his own solo album under the name, MaximumBalloon (DGC/Interscope), which featured friends like Karen O, TheophilusLondon and David Byrne. He played with, collaborated with and produced artistslike the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Wale and Holly Miranda. Recently he announced hewould be producing and playing bass on the new album from Jane's Addiction. Kypreleased his solo album under the name Rain Machine, and embarked on a coupleof brief tours, including a recent one with his friend from San Francisco,singer-songwriter, Jolie Holland. One would think the last thing they'd want todo during a break would be more recording and touring, but Kyp feltdifferently. He says, "I feel like every concentrated experience of makinga record, touring a record, and playing with different people, dealing withdifferent social dynamics potentially increases my musicianship and how Iunderstand music."
8. TV On The Radio plan an extensive tour beginning just before therelease of Nine Types of Light. Theywill headline Radio City Music Hall in New York on April 13, the day after thealbum's release.