TV on the Radio: The Lost Interview
Like a sundial, the New York City subway system found purpose with the sun. The heat fell through sidewalks, collected in the rails and kindled the metropolitan train grid to an electric coil, simmering everything ground level to a walking fever. I flew in from Chicago for a wedding. This time, the airplane losing my bag was very helpful; in that week the summer of 2003, happily dislodged from my effects, I wore my friend’s coveted Nugent shirt all week and propelled wherever I could—a very merry almost-24-hours of it with TV On The Radio. With my recording device safe in my still unproduced luggage, I asked them over lunch to write mission statements on napkins and tried my memory with the adventures that ensued: more lunch, opening for Café Tacuba at the Bowery ballroom that night and the magic of Brooklyn for the lovely rest of it. The folks over at Under the Radar for whom I was writing the piece for, wanted more quotations. TV On The Radio was releasing their first EP, Young Liars on Touch and Go Records. Some of this interview appeared in the article, most did not. So here you go, fall in love. Subject: urgent: my editor wants more 'exact quotations' from you Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2003 21:14:46 -0700 (PDT) thank you thank you thank you for your mission statements. (damn kids, you done handed me poetry.) & i read your lyrics to a friend on the phone. she hadn't realized they weren't poems until i told her. she then says she wants to be friends with you. it's beautiful stuff, that. what's your writing process? that's incredibly nice of your friend to say, and she can prove her friendship by picking us up at the Port Authority if ever we are "in trouble". Most of EP, lyrically, was scribbled in notebooks and muttered into four-tracks and answering machines before they were real songs. I think it's a pretty typical process. It starts by getting incredibly frustrated by a situation, any situation, coming to an impasse with the real world and what you can do about it, and realizing that laying that frustration out in words and then setting it to music is ultimately more productive than taking a crowbar to someone's headlight or drinking or watching tv. It's not always frustration, though. It can be elation. Writing and playing, creating, its just a good outlet to be outofyourmind depressed, or inspired or happy or lecherous without bugging the hell out of your friends or courting a prison stay. any author/s you were thinking of while writing it? Rumi. Mystic poetry was really appealling to me when we were writing last time. Most of the poetry that I've read of his is about a longing for a connection with ...the infinite, or that nameless faceless thing, this oh of course oh eternal yess bliss, but yearning for that as you'd yearn for a lover, and getting it. Everyone should read some Rumi. I swear I'm NOT a hippie. He predates the hippies by a few centuries. It's great. Other authors? Raymond Pettibone, James Baldwin, Charles Schulz, E.E. Cummings and Banana Yoshimoto figure in there somehow, but most of the lyrics were scraped together from journals. I don't know. Sorry to talk about yearning like that, but these poems are REALLY good. I'm not a hippie. we talked about david's poetry compilation at lunch. how much are you influenced by words in your music, and in general? I love words. They've ruined everything. there's some speak mixed in your songs. it reminded me of walking down metropolitan ave. listening to the hispanic women in the street. what was the impetus? That was a recording of some people I used to know telling a joke that to this day I haven't been motivated enough to translate. I'm pretty sure that someone, possibly me ,was being ridiculed. It's something about a stunning dress and a cow that no one wants, and for some reason it goes with the song. creepy. come to think of it, all songs on the ep remind me of walking around brooklyn at night, like that night after your show when we were trying to decide where to go. did you have this in mind? We made a lot of it in Brooklyn at night, so that might be it. My friend Marc, who used to live in the loft we recorded in wrote me and said that the ep reminded him of the place in the dead of winter, streetlights shining in through taped up windows, unpainted dry walls, exposed wires, rough floorboards and lonliness. Then he said it was strangely uplifting at the same time, just like us not getting evicted the month after was strangely uplifting. I agree with both you. There's some brooklyn on it. adding to this, fact #4 is brooklyn, ny. would you care to explain? (or have you explained this enough already?) No, I don't think we've explained it at all, yet. Fact # 3 was that the night we finished the ep, our upstairs neighbor called the landlord and requested that Dave be kicked out of the building for being too loud, and the landlord went for it, so fact #3 was basically that David Andrew Sitek and TV on the Radio are too loud for the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, because as everyone knows, you move to Williamsburg for the wine shops, the tree lined streets and, of course, the eerie artless silence that pervades every overpriced air conditioned rentmare from sassy Bedford Ave to New Bushwick Lane. It's petty, but it's our petty and we're proud of it. i noticed TVOTR played a live soundtrack to a film showing in Brooklyn. what was the film, and how did you like it? has TVOTR done this before? will you do more? No, we played before a film festival at Rooftop Films, here in Brooklyn. However, we'd be down to play soundtracks during silent film screenings. So, yes we've never done it before, but we'd like to do more. any comments, questions? We will be touring all over this America in November. Our website will have the info soon. Also, "Magsaysay" is a name that everyone should learn at least twice. So cool. so, can i write about you needing a nutritionist? Please. A full page ad. "Wanted: Someone to monitor TV On The Radio's blood sugar/ fried food intake. " It needs to stop. The bad nutrition NEEDS TO STOP. Written by J.R. Magsaysay, who says, "thank you tunde adibimpe, you are god's green..."