There aren’t many bands more associated with Brooklyn than TV on the Radio. But when it was time to start working on their fifth LP, Nine Types of Light (due April 12th), the art-rockers convened in the sunny Los Angeles house that producer and multi-instrumentalist Dave Sitek began renting after 2008’s Dear Science. “When we recorded all the previous records, we were in a room with no windows for months at a time,” says Sitek. “Having a barbecue running the whole time was certainly a different vibe.”
Between waging epic ping-pong battles and feasting on home-grilled meats – “We probably ate our weight in lamb in the process of recording,” chuckles singer-guitarist Kyp Malone – the band took turns laying down instrumental parts in Sitek’s living room, kitchen and patio. “I’ve become less concerned with what [an album] sounds like in an anechoic chamber or in a mastering suite,” Sitek says. “Make music in real life, for real life. That’s what the whole vibe is at my house.”
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Most of all, the Los Angeles trip gave TV on the Radio a chance to get back to being a band again. Since Dear Science, lead singer Tunde Adebimpe has won rave reviews for his acting in Rachel Getting Married, Sitek put in production hours with everyone from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Aziz Ansari and released a solo album as Maximum Balloon, and Malone made a solo disc as Rain Machine. “I hadn’t been around everybody for a minute,” Malone says. “The need to reconnect psychically was pretty important for me.” Adds Sitek: “It was nice to play with each other again. We’d all been playing with other people and doing other stuff. It felt really good to not have to explain – you could just do you, and that’s what this band is great at.”
The disc ranges from the psychedelic ballad “Killer Crane” and the woozy reverie “You” (both written by Adebimpe) to the adrenaline-laced post-punk groove “No Future Shock” (written by Malone). Atmospheric textures provided by a Poly Evolver analog/digital synthesizer enhanced many of the new tunes. “In some ways it’s easier to make riffs that don’t sound hackneyed on synths than it is for the guitar,” says Malone.
The band eventually returned to Brooklyn for additional sessions, but Sitek says the time in L.A. was key. “There’s a song called ‘Forgotten’ — if we were recording that in Brooklyn, it would have had, like, 25 guest musicians on it,” he says. “Recording up on this hill in this canyon with just us [meant] we all had to bring our A game.”