Considering that the most jaded of indie rockers have a nose for bullshit, the members of TV on the Radio are on high alert these days.
Over-hyped just like Big Apple bands The Strokes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah before them, the experimental Brooklyn, N.Y., quintet is currently riding an out-of-control promotional wave. Its latest effort, Return to Cookie Mountain, was virtually ubiquitous on 2006 best-of lists, and now the band is on magazine covers. Guitarist-vocalist Kyp Malone says the entire experience is exciting one minute, disconcerting the next.
"It's the nature of the media where people catch on to one thing and then everyone decides they have to cover that one thing," says Malone, calling from his home. "I believe in what we're doing, I'm psyched about it and I'm proud of the output me and my friends have produced, but there are so many people doing great stuff right now."
He adds: "I definitely think there is such a thing as too much attention. We're getting too much attention in New York right now, so I'm super-sensitive."
Malone finds himself in the uncomfortable position of defending the band's music while downplaying the notion that success is a bad thing. It's the same paradox indie bands have been attempting to wrap their mind grapes around for decades.
"I don't think everyone has capitalistic wet dreams about what they're doing with music," Malone says, "but everyone who is putting [music] out is lying if they think they don't want attention."
TV on the Radio began around the turn of the century when founding members Tunde Adebimpe (singer) and David Andre Sitek (multi-instrumentalist) recorded the self-released EP OK Calculator. Soon after, Malone joined, with the Young Liars EP released in 2003. The band's debut Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes arrived in 2004 to great critical acclaim.
This set the group up for the highly anticipated Return to Cookie Mountain, which was unequivocally a breath of fresh air to the indie rock scene. The mishmash album features trip-hop beats, hip-hop vibes, alt-rock anthems, complex chord structures and convoluted melodies, all tied up nicely with an underground rock bow.
"Everyone wants to expand," Malone says. "No one in the band is interested in trying to make anyone else excited before we make ourselves excited with new ideas or fresh takes on all this. We're influenced from a lot of people. But I feel like we mix them in such a way that we kind of disguise them."
With the media spotlight burning, Malone says his bandmates are cognizant of the glare and hope to control their meteoric rise or possible burnout as best they can.
"We're going to finish this tour and then we're going to go back to our lives," Malone says, "even though I know that's not necessarily the recommended thing in the industry. It's supposed to be "Keep it going, keep the intensity,' but none of us are ready to jump back into the studio, because I don't think that what we would come up with would be that interesting."
He adds: "I feel like we're all going to take a break for a second, and whenever it feels right, we're going to get right back to it."
TV on the Radio with Subtle
Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax Ave., Denver
Tuesday, March 20, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $20, 16-plus; visit ticketmaster.com.