July 6th, 2006 TV On The Radio releases “Return To Cookie Mountain”.
Before the album was released the mammoth of a single that was “Wolf Like Me” had already been played almost everywhere, BUT, not everywhere yet. With that song they brought the art rock and the post punk indie rock to the forefront. While it might not have been the most popular song fr.that genre it was clearly the most important one. The one other musicians listened to. The one other artists gushed over. The one.
Yet, that wasn’t the only thing that separated TVOTR from the rest of their contemporaries. “Return To Cookie Mountain” also featured David Bowie on vocals on “Province” who had been a massive fan since hearing their EP ‘Young Liars’ at a photo shoot he was doing back in 2004. And Bowie being Bowie kept in touch with Dave Sitek. As Sitek tells the story: “When we started making Return to Cookie Mountain, I dropped off a disc of demos for him. About a month later, he wrote to me and said, “I really love this ‘Province’ track, the lyrics and the strange choice of sounds. This is really incredible.” And without even thinking about it, I said, “Well, you should come to the studio and be on it.” Which was kind of a ballsy move, and he said, “OK, I’ll be there sometime next week.” He showed up at my studio in Williamsburg. Tunde couldn’t get his head around it. I couldn’t either. We were both, “What the hell is going on?” David was an absolute gentleman. He was super generous with his time and down to earth. He was wearing New Balance sneakers and talking to us about music. He listened to everything. He was into Lightning Bolt, like I was, and I talked to him about Górecki’s third symphony. Usually when you’re in a studio, you hear the vocals and have an idea of what to do next. But he’d sing the parts and you’d go, “Uh, that sounds like a finished record.” But true to form, he was like, “You know what you’re doing, so do you think it’s right?” He wasn’t trying to turn TV on the Radio into Bowie. He just wanted to participate and honor the song and be a part of it.”
Kazu Makino, of Blonde Redhead, lent her vocals for the song “Hours”. However, that wasn’t the only collaboration that song had. El-P, before Run The Jewels, did a remix of that song and even though some remixes are worst than others this one completely blew the lid off form the track.
These are only 3 tracks so far. We haven’t even spoken about “Dirtywhirl” or “Blues From Down Here”.
“A Method”, “Let The Devil In”, “I Was A Lover” and “Playhouses” were also jawdroppingly amazing and unique on their own way.
“Tonight” and “Wash The Day Away” are stunning closing tracks.
This same year they went on an amphitheater tour where they were playing with Peter Murphy and Nine Inch Nails, since NIN had released their “comeback” album ‘With Teeth’. Within this tour sometime they would perform some songs together and below there’s a clip of TVOTR playing “Dreams” with vocals by Trent Reznor and Peter Murphy.
When this album came out it completely changed me (again). Mind you that the first 5 times I heard the song “Young Liars” I kept on listening new things in it and it got me genuinely excited about music again. When “Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes” arrived I was already a massive TVOTR believer. That album only cimented what I already believed which was that TVOTR was the best band out of New York. Head above shoulders Interpol and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Walkmen and the National. What happened? Well, “Return To Cookie Mountain” came out and I couldn’t find a bad song in the album. They were all playing so good live during this time that i think I might’ve seen them play live about 6 times behind this album. I don’t know what it was about specifically but something within it changed me, or to be a little more specific it helped me, it healed me. I was not a teen at this time yet I felt that this album did what music is supposed to do to you sometimes, which is to transform you and transport you somewhere you haven’t been before and to make you feel something.
The wonder in this is seeing them almost 10 years later from Return To Cookie Mountain and having my daughter experience something with them with the album Seeds, and at the same time being able to meet them for a quick minute. I don’t know what kind of impact it had on her then, but i know the impact it had on me.
Thank you to TV On The Radio for creating this album. I don’t know what this album did to you as a band, but to me as a listener it’s something I still cherish up until now.