TV On The Radio always felt like a band slightly ahead of their time. Listening back to albums such as 'Return To Cookie Mountain' or 'Dear Science', it's striking that they contain such dark, political themes – after all, the Noughties were billed as an era of plenty, a time of cheap credit and economic expansion.
It's fitting, then, that the band are set to jet in to play a London show during a time of almost implausible economic turmoil. Rarely has the group's material been so well-suited, so expertly in sync with its surrounds that this long, uncomfortably muggy British summertime.
For Kyp Malone, though, it's a wonderful chance to re-connect with fans, some of whom won't have seen the band in the flesh for some time. “I love playing live, especially with this group, so it's really exciting,” he says. “London is a great place, too. So, I'm excited about it.”
The band have gradually been emerging from the shadows, re-convening after a period of off piste solo projects. “It's exciting,” he admits. “It's different to be doing a show for something other than the backdrop of someone's holiday, getting wasted at a festival. Which is always good, because I like to have fun, but it's nice to do something different because... even if it doesn't work out, it's always exciting to try new things.”
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TV On The Radio recently played a small show in Queens, New York, in aid of the Bernie Sanders campaign. The unassuming liberal politician has garnered tremendous grassroots support, and his break from the political consensus slowly charmed each member of the band.
“I wish I could say that there was like a real, conscious, way of planning but it's not really like that,” he says. “People in the band like him, and we want to say something. Taking a break last year meant that we really want to play, so we thought we could connect it to the music. So the opportunity presents itself, and it felt like it was going to be fun, so we jumped on it.”
The campaign itself has clearly struck a chord with Kyp, who has always harboured liberal and progressive interests. “It's funny to think about it as left wing or right wing,” he muses. “It's easy to think about it as binary, but I think the popularity of Sanders and the popularity of Trump – who are clearly, rhetorically, on different sides of the divide – but both those candidates are pulling energy from the amount of people who feel disaffected, and dis-empowered, and try to implement it. I don't think it's really right or left.”
“I won't shy away from saying what I think, but it's more about self-preservation, and that leads to challenging the status quo, and wealth distribution. And the people with the power not giving a fuck about the rest of the people on the planet. I'd rather change it through democratic means because every single revolution has been really fucking ugly. Let's try a new way.”
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Taking a break last year meant that we really want to play...
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Bernie Sanders has funded his campaign in a different way from most politicians, with funds circumventing big business in favour of rather more commonplace sources. “The Sanders campaign – his grassroots campaign – has not been funded by corporations. It's just very clear that with the amount of money in politics in this country leads to the idea that some corporations can make their voice heard over citizens. They've just made it so that basically whoever has the most money, the most corporate backing, have ended up in office.”
“I'm not doing any hero worship or shit. I respect that dude, and I want him in office, but it's what's behind Bernie Sanders,” he insists. “The fact is, people who are behind Bernie Sanders are closer in society to me.”
But perhaps that's letting the band's political interests overshadow the music itself. After all, it's not as if Kyp Malone has been silent of late – he even popped up on a Little Scream track, and infectiously but wonderfully off kilter piece of synth pop. “We have a mutual friend, who turned me to her music. And got me to open for her at some shows,” he says. “I really like her writing, and I like her voice, and I like her personality. And when she was getting ready to record, she invited me to work on the track.”
The recording process, it seems, was lubricated with plenty of wine, and some great home-cooking. “We recorded at our mutual friend's place, during a dinner party,” Kyp adds. “He lives in town, and she took down her laptop, we set up some microphones, and that's how we did it. Before the dinner party got too drunken.”
“I love getting to do new things, especially written by other people,” he continues. “If I'm working on something that I wrote, or with TV, I have maybe too much ego investment, and it can become more laborious, rather than just a joy. It can be a joy, but it gets caught up with other things. If someone else is there, and it's someone whose work I respect, then I'm just excited to do my best for them, and bring their idea to life.”
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I love getting to do new things...
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Which isn't to say that Kyp Malone is shying away from solo material – he's actually hard at work on another Rain Machine record, roping in close friends to help him progress. “I'm writing another Rain Machine record right now. I've done a bunch of recordings for it but I wasn't satisfied with the way it was going. So I'll keep on going until I truly love what I have.”
As for TV On The Radio, it seems that fans might have to wait a little longer for something new. “We're not officially working on a record,” he says. “We're certainly not officially working on a record. But, y'know, we're sharing things, and we did a little bit here and there at the end of the last tour. But we can't predict what happens next, and when it happens. We all speak to each other, and we all love each other, so there's definitely a new TV On The Radio record in there somewhere.”
Set to pluck from their back catalogue for a special show at Barclaycard presents British Summertime, TV On The Radio may well be looking back but they're far from stuck in the past. “It's funny... you can constantly try to re-invent yourselves, record to record, some people are really good at that. But also, I feel like when you hear someone's work, and you hear it in context, it ultimately always sounds like that artist, or that band.”
“Once you've found a voice artistically, it's difficult not to sound like that voice. But there's different ways to approach it, different ways that it can be mixed up. And I think we've mixed it up, without overtly changing it for the sake of just fucking it up.”
If there's one group you can trust to never fuck it up – artistically, live, or politically – then it's TV On The Radio.
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Catch TV On The Radio at London's Hyde Park on Friday (July 1st) as part of Barclaycard presents British Summertime.