Things haven’t been easy for TV On The Radio this decade. In 2011 they lost long-time bassist Gerard Smith to lung cancer, and shortly after they parted acrimoniously with the Interscope label after seven successful years. But, in 2014, the band stormed back with one of their best albums yet in ‘Seeds’, and proceeded to jet off around the world on the biggest tour of their career.
Now they’ve been confirmed British Summer Time at Hyde Park, where Sitek, Malone, Bunton and Adebimpe will join headliners Massive Attack, Young Fathers and Patti Smith on the bill.
Ahead of the show, singer Tunde Adebimpe talked to us about new material, presidential hopeful Donald Trump and the late, great David Bowie.
Hi Tunde! Are you excited to come back to Hyde Park?
“Yeah, absolutely! It’s a good one to do. Massive Attack are headlining and we go way back – I did a song with them on their record ‘Heligoland’ [Adebimpe wrote and contributed vocals to ’Pray For Rain’] and we also opened for them at one of our first UK shows.”
Patti Smith’s playing too – are you a fan of your fellow New Yorker?
“Definitely. We’ve played festivals together before, but you still drop what you’re doing and run to the side of the stage to watch her going at it. She’s amazing. A pioneer.”
What do think about the rest of the line-up. Are you aware of Young Fathers?
“Yeah, I learnt about Young Fathers from their first two EPs and just loved them straight away. I’d been in touch by email and I think we were both in St Louis on tour and just hung out for a while. They’re an amazing band and just really, really great people. I love what they make.”
You collaborated with Bowie on ‘Province’ on the ‘Return To Cookie Mountain’ album. How did you react to the news of his death in January?
“Well, to lose anyone close to you is horrible. But if you lose someone who is culturally the sky since you’ve been alive it’s even worse. You never imagine that sort of energy can ‘die’. On the other hand, what he put out into the world is too incredible to ever be forgotten. So if it gets people to dip their heads back into that kind of energy then that’s no bad thing.”
Had you seen him recently?
“He came by a few times after we performed. But that was a long time ago. Right after we did the record together – 2007 or 2008 I think.”
That was in New York. How crucial was he to the city’s scene?
“Unquestionably so. I can’t think about the place without thinking about David Bowie. I’m totally off the ‘new band train’ at the moment, but when I was [aware of the scene] none of those bands would have been there without him. No one would have given a fuck about New York.:
Are you planning anything special for the Hyde Park show?
“Let me think… there’ll be a lot from the last record. Stuff that we’ve been spending a little time just improvising on. Getting it just right. Some hits will show up too…”
Any new material?
“Maaaybe, maybe. We’re always working on new stuff, there’s nothing that I would call a new album or anything right now, but there’s always songs popping up every now and again so we’ll see. We were on tour for nearly two years so everyone’s just trying to be a normal human being again for a while.”
You’ve earned a rest.
“I think so. Time to recharge.”
It doesn’t sound very relaxing over there right now though. What with the presidential primaries…
“No! You can’t not follow it. You stick your head out of a window and it’s right there.”
What do you think about Trump? Laughing stock or dangerous lunatic?
“Both. The dangerous part is you have a billionaire entertainer who is really a reality show host hard-wired to pander to people. As far as reality shows go, I don’t think anyone would dispute that he’s fishing for the lowest common denominator.”
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