For “Happy Idiot,” the first video from TV on the Radio‘s upcoming fifth album Seeds, the group has enlisted Paul Reubens as “Racer Steven” and Doctor Who actress Karen Gillan for what singer Tunde Adebimpe described as a “full-on geekfest in the desert.”
Directed by Danny Jelinek and written by comedian Jake Fogelnest, the “Happy Idiot” video, produced by Funny or Die, channels both the 1960s animated show “Speed Racer” and 1971 cult road movie Vanishing Point, as Reubens continually drives past an increasingly frantic Gillan while the band, dressed in white, remains the video’s calming force.
“I had this idea for the video that I thought would never happen, of Paul Reubens as a race car driver who slowly loses his mind,” singer Tunde Adebimpe said in a statement. “I got to speak with him over the phone about doing it and, in between being blindingly nervous that I was actually talking to an actor who had shaped a LOT of my world view and trying not to freak him out by saying so, he mentioned that he’s been a fan of the band for awhile.”
The group released two songs last year — the balladic “Million Miles,” (featuring an ecologically-themed video) and the dance-rock track “Mercy” — though neither will appear on Seeds. Produced by founding member/guitarist Dave Sitek, Seeds will be the first album since the 2011 death of bassist Gerard Smith.
“We’ve been through a lot of stuff in the past few years that could have stopped the band cold,” Adebimpe said in a statement earlier this year. “But I’m glad we got it together and took stock of the unique connection we have between each other because the record is, 1,000 percent, without a doubt, the best thing we’ve ever done.”