It's fitting that Kyp Malone, singer and guitarist for Brooklyn-based indie rock Gods TV on the Radio, has dubbed his solo effort Rain Machine. The musician regularly pours his heart out on his songs (in his signature warped falsetto), and works so much that he's - yes - just like a machine. Malone doesn't think in puns or play-on words like me - thankfully. The name is up for interpretation just like TV on the Radio is, and as I found in an enlightening interview earlier this week, the singer is more focused on making music than making headlines merely for making a solo record.
Why did you choose to go with Rain Machine as a name rather than your real name for your first solo effort?
I wanted it to be something I could make modular. I'm touring with people right now and their names are not Kyp Malone. I've got a pretty big head and a pretty big ego but people have given me time and creativity to something that's not [just] Kyp Malone. Calling it Kyp Malone is kind of gross and ridiculous to me. I want to make more records as Rain Machine and some will be with a band and some will be solo but I want it to be modular.
You've toured rigorously with TV on the Radio - were you anxious to go back out on the road again as Rain Machine?
I don't know. I feel like I'm on the verge of being ruined for regular life and touring is easier and more comfortable in a lot of ways. We just did a week and a half on the West Coast, and we embark today on two-and-a-half weeks south and northeast. I'm excited for it. I certainly need to attend my life at home, but I'm thankful for the work.
Plus, you're doing your own thing this time out, right?
Well, a lot of TV on the Radio is my own thing and four other people's own thing so this is different in that it's a different group of people. If it was my own thing, I'd just be playing it in a room by myself. I'm working with four other musicians and we're playing for audiences.
How long has this project been in development?
Over six years with TV on the Radio, there's a lot of hard work but a lot of down time. In that down time, I find myself wanting to play and really wanting to play with other people, but it's hard to develop those relationships when you're going to have to go back on the road. It's easier to just play solo shows. I wasn't writing songs to make a record. Someone asked me to make a record. It just made sense to me. But it did not take a long time in development: a week in Northern California, a half a week in Southern California, and a week in New York.
You say you have a lot of down time, but you're a family man, you perform in a band, and produce other people's albums... are you glutton for punishment?
No. I just don't want to watch TV and I know that life is short. I feel like I couldn't do all the things I wanted to do if I had several life times to do them in. I'm a family man but I can't rest on my laurels. I don't live 20 years ago where a band like TV on the Radio [could have] critical acclaim [translate] to financial success. Being my own boss and working inside an industry that's not really an industry, I need to keep busy and keep working. The only way to make money in music - unless you're managing someone - is to tour and even that depends on where you are at.
With each TV album, you seem to get closer to mainstream success. Did it surprise you that your last album brought you that with "Saturday Night Live" and "The Colbert Report" to name a few?
No, because it was so gradual.
Is there pressure on you for the next TV album?
We hold ourselves to such high standards and that's where the pressure comes. I personally believe there's a better record - there's more potential in that group that what has been met thus far. Whenever that record happens, I'm excited to see what it'll be.
Your song titles off this album are interesting and come with an emotional wallop. Do you think song titles mean anything?
I think it means something. There's a freedom of something that doesn't have a fixed identity... there's a finality to it. I find it freeing.
You have a wonderful big beard. Have you ever tried to cultivate a mustache?
I've had a mustache several times in my life. I'm lazy so I have a beard. But I have experimented with men's fashion. I've seen lots of friends a few years ago with a lot of ironic mustaches going on. My dad had a mustache. When he shaved it off, it was freaky.