For a band that makes such edgy, experimental music, TV on the Radio is almost quaint when it comes to its business strategy.
“We haven’t put our music in ads so far, and we have a clause in our contract that states our songs won’t be associated with cigarettes, alcohol brands or the military,” singer Tunde Adebimpe says. “We don’t want to see corporate banners at our shows, either. I want the live experience to remain unmarred.”
The same uncompromising ethic runs through the songs on the band’s latest record, “Dear Science,” due September 23 via Interscope. Previously signed to Touch & Go, TV on the Radio debuted on the major label with 2006’s “Return to Cookie Mountain,” which has sold 189,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
For TV on the Radio, hits are a long shot, and the members of the band are perfectly fine with that. “We write five-minute-long songs about global warming,” producer/guitarist Dave Sitek says sardonically. “They don’t exactly make a natural fit to be played over the credits of a reality show.”
Many of the tracks from “Dear Science” fall on the artier end of the spectrum, with Sitek’s orchestral production style popping up almost everywhere. Influences like David Bowie and Prince are proudly displayed; the album’s sexually explicit closer, “Lover’s Day,” could easily be an outtake from a Prince album.
“I think Interscope are fully aware that this is a weird experiment,” Adebimpe says. “We signed with them because they gave us an opportunity to reach more people. They have a big megaphone, if you will, and we wanted to use it to get our songs out there.”
TV on the Radio is on the road through early October, including stops at the Treasure Island Festival in San Francisco and the Voodoo Experience in New Orleans on Halloween.
The road, the record and the recent cover of the New York Times’ Sunday arts section won’t be the only places to catch band members this fall. Adebimpe has a major role in the upcoming Jonathan Demme film, “Rachel Getting Married”; singer Kyp Malone performs his solo material on a regular basis; and Sitek is doing production work on the forthcoming Telepathe album.
“One of my favorite things about the band is that they are all seasoned, well-rounded artists,” Interscope A&R executive Wood says. “They look at everything they do as an extension of their art.”