By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
When Sitek brushes off the idea of the band’s being upset by the rampant Internet leak of Cookie Mountain earlier this year (“We just knew right then and there that we could make a big deal out of something we had no control over, or we could just get some pizza. We chose the pizza”), it’s obvious that music is not foremost in his mind these days.
“In the grand scheme of things,” he muses, “given situations like Katrina and wars overseas, we’re way more concerned about other, far more important things. We didn’t set out to make a political record. We were just trying to cover all aspects of what it’s like to be a human being right now. It was just impossible to ignore what’s going on in the world.”
That’s obvious, from the new album’s opening line (“I was a lover/before this war”) to songs like last year’s free-download single “Dry Drunk Emperor,” which harshly criticized the Bush administration’s handling of the Katrina situation.
“I’m not surprised, but definitely disappointed [by the lack of more message-driven music]. I do think that it’s happening, it’s just not supported by the music industry,” says Sitek. “I’m more surprised about the lack of Abbie Hoffmans than the lack of Bob Dylans at this point anyway. Huxley would say that the government doesn’t have to bother controlling what people can read, since most people will just take Soma and not be interested in reading anyway. I’d say what we’re experiencing right now is a combination of fear and Prozac.
“I’m obsessed with the idea that there are billions of people without clean drinking water. It’s really fucking with me. It’s kind of hard to be talking about music and simultaneously thinking about that fact,” he says. “I’m really into the work of Dr. [Masaru] Emoto, who wrote The Hidden Messages in Water” — which postulates that water can absorb and transmit human emotion. “I read that and The Secret Life of Plants in the same month, so now I’m really sensitive to the idea that as a human species, we’re all connected, and how our thoughts can affect outcome and physical properties. What kind of overwhelmingly positive experience can occur in the world to drown out the sound of doubt and fear that’s so prevalent right now?” he asks.
TV on the Radio’s music poses the same question — and answers itself with itself. Modesty aside, Sitek knows there’s no need to belittle its value. Music is not a luxury.
“Instead of focusing on the world falling apart, we should be thinking that something beautiful and possible could explode right in front of us,” Sitek continues, animated. “Music is an immediate way to break a cycle. You can blast the speakers and overwhelm yourself. With this record, we really wanted to contribute to the positive power of that feeling.”
Can I get a witness?
TV on the Radio play the Hollywood Bowl, Sunday, Sept. 24.