Zero tolerance for the boring and stupid

******Seriously dudes, this is normal for me. I keep having people run up and be like “What is wrong with you!” And honestly, I’m perfectly fine. I was fucked up for four years, but people assumed that was normal. Pretty fucking sick that. Anyway, introversion is NOT the same as shyness or being scared, it’s just a natural process in doing intensive creative work. But obviously what I say doesn’t matter to a lot of people, so here’s a globe and mail article.*******

Zero tolerance for the boring and stupid
TV on the Radio front man Tunde Adebimpe says to really create you must spend a lot of time alone — and behave like you’re 15


Special to The Globe and Mail

MONTREAL — TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe sits in the venue dressing room hours before these next-big-thing Brooklyn art-rockers hit the Montreal stage. Wearing jeans and oversized tortoiseshell glasses, wrapped in a hooded sweatshirt, he comes across as unpretentious, genuine and secret-weapon charismatic. Meet the front man of a musically undefined band making it on its own creative terms.

“The older I get, my tolerance level for things that are boring or cruel or stupid just goes down more and more and more,” the 32-year old says. “Any sort of lifestyle that will surpass that is what I’m aiming for.”

So far, so good. Music authority Spin magazine pronounced TVOTR’s second full-length disc, Return to Cookie Mountain, as album of the year for 2006. Fan David Bowie makes a cameo. The band also made headlines with the Internet release of Dry Drunk Emperor, a song protesting the governmental response to hurricane Katrina.

For TV on the Radio, imagination rules and all forms of self-expression, political and personal, are connected and essential to growth. In fact, Adebimpe told Spin that Return to Cookie Mountain was “about change through imagination put into action.”
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Like his bandmates, Nigerian-born Adebimpe is committed to producing and consuming art in various incarnations. He moonlights as an actor, visual artist and stop-motion animator trained at New York University. (He directed the Pin music video for fellow Brooklynites the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and once worked as an animator on MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch.) “There are some things that the only way to confront them, for me, is by making something, whether it’s on a piece of paper, or in song form. You go through something and you get to document it,” says Adebimpe, his long, caterpillar-like fingers gesturing to a sketchbook on the table. He grins. “I doodle all the time.”

TV on the Radio was born around 2001 when Adebimpe, broke and living in a Brooklyn loft, met struggling producer David Sitek, also a painter, blogger, and photographer. (Sitek now produces for TVOTR and bands such as Massive Attack, Liars and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.) The duo experimented with four-track recordings and performing in local bars, doing weird stuff like handing out instruments to the audience and beatboxing — the latter of which they still do, and well. They eventually recruited guitarist and songwriter Kyp Malone (who also acts and takes photographs), then drummer Jaleel Bunton and bassist Gerard Smith, a former flamenco-guitar busker on the New York subway.

With two film projects and a book of paintings in the works, Adebimpe says that different art forms stimulate different insecurities. “When I make paintings and comics, I’m a lot less worried about if anyone gets it. With music, especially with lyrics, you find yourself looking at words on paper that might be touchstones for you but could be completely meaningless to somebody else.”

He chuckles. “I’d like to test that theory, like completely and totally, by just writing and not worrying about it. I know what the fear is with that, too; it could just be total gibberish, but then, gibberish is . . . well, I’ve definitely been moved by things that later someone told me, ‘Nah, it’s just words; I was just rhyming.’ ” The real question is, how can someone so analytical and self-aware maintain such a direct connection to the figurative playground that art comes from? Damned if Adebimpe knows. But he’s learned it has something to do with perspective; with seeing the world with a sense of wonder.

“Most people I’ve really admired have told me that the way they respond to the world emotionally probably hasn’t changed since they were about 15.”

Solitude is another necessity. “Even when I’m doing a million things, I have to take that time to just, honestly, do nothing. To lie on your back and think about things — and then turn them into something else.”

This theory was recently validated when he saw director David Lynch speak in a bookstore. “He said something so simple, but it was great to hear someone whose stuff you like so much say it; that the creative life requires a lot of being alone, and even if you’re not calling it a creative life, if you’re a person who needs to be alone so you can function on a daily basis, so you can process things. That’s the hardest thing to get people who are close to you to understand.”

Has Adebimpe experienced that personally? “Yeah, totally,” he says with a laugh. “I can show you the crash-and-burn marks from about four different times when it was like, ‘I love you, but I guess I love the potential me more than I love your idea of how we should be a two-headed beast.’ “

On stage, this beast has five heads. Flanked by Malone and Sitek (who is stone-faced behind horn-rimmed glasses, wind chimes dangling from his guitar), Adebimpe is dancing it up free and uninhibited, lost in the storm of music and noise. A few songs in, the guys are drenched in sweat and wipe it off with locker-room towels. Grinning, Adebimpe swings a towel over his head and tosses it into the screaming crowd: part camp, part charisma, all rock ‘n’ roll.

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