TV on the Radio transforms pain into beauty 

click to enlarge TV on the Radio’s newest songs on "Seeds" were recorded easily in cathartic sessions. - COURTESY  PHOTO
  • TV on the Radio’s newest songs on "Seeds" were recorded easily in cathartic sessions.
Like all great learning experiences, the one that kept TV on the Radio going came as a result of painful circumstances.

Without a label, on an extended hiatus after touring for 2011's "Nine Types of Light," and, most significantly, dealing with the death of bassist Gerard Smith, lead vocalist Tunde Adebimpe and the group’s other members didn't know if they had the passion and stamina to sustain the unique indie rock collective they founded in 2001.

"You know, you just keep running and running until you hit this brick wall," says Adebimpe, who appears with the band next week in Oakland. "And then you smash through that wall and realize, ‘I'm still here.’ You just reflect on what's important in your life, and how amazing it is that you get to be in a band with your best friends, who are essentially your family at this point. All the other unimportant, selfish, toxic stuff just goes away."

Following that revelation, Adebimpe got in the studio with multi-instrumentalist Dave Sitek, bassist-guitarist Kyp Malone and drummer Jaleel Bunton to record the singles "Mercy" and "Million Miles."

Inspired by the catharsis at those sessions, the band pushed forward with its fifth full-length album "Seeds," which was released last November to glowing praise.

Mixing Adebimpe's soulful, stirring vocals with the digital landscape of Sitek and Malone's off-center take on punk and R&B, "Seeds" combines disparate elements to create a beguiling yet engaging sound, a trademark of TV on the Radio.

While past efforts have been moody at times, "Seeds" is uplifting and hopeful, capped by the closing title track, where Adebimpe confidently coos, "Rain comes down like it always does/This time I've got seeds on ground."

Normally loathe to tour to promote its latest creation, Adebimpe is looking forward to performing the songs from "Seeds," which he calls his favorite TV on the Radio album (at the moment).

"For whatever reasons, these songs were finished products very quickly," says Adebimpe. "They still sound fresh and new to me. We haven't played them into submission, which has been the case sometimes in the past."

The uncertainty preceding its creation is among the most rewarding aspects of “Seeds.” "When we had that break after touring, I couldn't believe how many people – friends, musicians, even strangers – came up to me and said how much they appreciated our music," says Adebimpe. "It's tough to realize that sometimes, because you're always in your own headspace. To hear that kind of support was incredibly meaningful."


TV on the Radio

Where: Fox Theater, 1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland

When: 8 p.m. March 31

Tickets: $37.50

Contact: (510) 302-2250,

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Will Reisman

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