By Patrick Doyle
In this exclusive video, TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek brings us into the L.A. studio where he recorded Maximum Balloon, his funky, Eighties-pop-influenced project, in stores September 21. Sitek called on friends including Karen O, David Byrne, and TVOTR band mates Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe to sing over the tracks he created. "I needed to get a bunch of pop music out of my system," he tells Rolling Stone, contrasting Maximum Balloon against TV on the Radio. "We don¹t have any nine-minute epic songs about global warming."
TVOTR have been on hiatus since last year, and Sitek — who has produced the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Thee Oh See's and Scarlett Johansson's solo album Anywhere I Lay My Head — doesn't know when they'll reconvene. "We're the lousiest band with plans you'll ever see," he explains."So if we said we're going to start on this day, then we automatically jinx it. [We'll play] whenever we're all around each other." Sitek took an easy-going approach to Maximum Balloon as well, prepping for recording sessions by inviting friends to his L.A. studio and spinning music by the B-52's, Mobb Deep and Aphex Twin.
We asked Sitek about three standout Maximum Balloon tracks:
"Tiger," featuring Aku: Sitek was in a New York studio eighteen months ago producing a "cornball" artist he won't name when he began experimenting with a propulsive rhythm, funk guitar, and fuzzy synth. Sitek called his friend Aku, singer for the Brooklyn psych-rockers Dragons of Zynth, and they spent the rest of the day recording vocals. The track, which plays in the video above, went viral when Daisy Lowe, Gavin Rossdale's model daughter, stripped to the track in a video shoot for Esquire. "She heard it and then called me and was like, 'I hope you don't mind I used the song for a video I did. I'm dancing around in my underwear.' I was like, 'okay.'"
"Communion," featuring Karen O: Sitek invited the Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman to dinner just as the album was wrapping. "I was like, 'You know, everyone else is on this record. If you're not, that's kind of lame,'" he recalls. Karen O chose this smoky, stomping club number, where she demands, "Give me that beat / Show your love." "You get all of the Karen worlds in one song," Sitek says. "You get that real immediate presence, softer voice, and then you get the banshee" at the end of the track.
"Apartment Wrestling," featuring David Byrne: Sitek took a friend's advice and called Byrne, a hero of Sitek's, who quickly agreed to add vocals from New York. "He was like 'What do you think of this?' I¹m like, 'Why do you even care what I think? You're David Byrne!'" Sitek says, adding, "There's no hiding behind effects with him. You just put him front and center and, oh my God ..."
Maximum Balloon Track Listing
1. Groove Me, feat. Theophilus London
2. Young Love, feat. Katrina Ford
3. Absence of Light, feat. Tunde Adebimpe (Hear this song at the Fader)
4. If You Return, feat. Little Dragon
5. Shakedown, feat. Kyp Malone
6. Communion, feat. Karen O
7. Tiger, feat. Aku
8. The Lesson, feat. Holly Miranda
9. Apartment Wrestling, feat. David Byrne
10. Pink Bricks, feat. Ambrosia Parsley