Watch above as Interpol talk us through their new album and look back on NYC's colourful history
“Walking into the rehearsal space and having ‘The Rover’ presented to me just felt like I could just join the party,” Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino tells NME about the recent rollicking lead single ‘The Rover’. “It had something sinister to it in a rock n’ roll kind of way. I saw greasers and hula skirts. That was a great way to join the writing process. It was like ‘oh, it’s going to be that kind of party’.”
Watch our full video interview with the band above
Carried away in full party spirit, the NYC trio got swept up in the energy of just being three friends making noise in a room. However things soon got so raucous that they found themselves sparring with the law as the police came a’knockin’ to kick them out of a rehearsal room borrowed from ’00s NYC indie brethren Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
“I mean, Sam is just heavy-handed on drums. It’s his fault that the cops got called,” laughs frontman Paul Banks. “He doesn’t have a quiet setting. We’re just a loud band. But yeah, the cops came. Everybody moved out, and we fucked it up. It was set up like a clubhouse with Nick’s [Zimmer, YYY guitarist] photography on the walls, lights on the ceiling and lots of great vintage gear. It was really awesome that they let us share that with them and it was such a rad rehearsal space. The best we’ve ever had. What a shame.”
Interpol guitar Daniel Kessler continued: “Some things are just too good to be true. It was just so nice and cosy and you could leave the whole world behind. Sure enough, the police came down during a bad blizzard. Then it escalated to another time where they were getting calls and we were trying to reason with them. We were getting somewhere then lo and behold there’s a cop there and we were given the ultimatum to leave. It was a real bummer.”
But the band soon found a new home and kept up the pace. The result was a more carefree sense of abandon that led to the relentless rush and raw intensity of their upcoming sixth album ‘Marauder‘ – by far the band’s most frenetic work to date. Working with Flaming Lips and MGMT producer Dave Fridmann allowed Interpol to truly surrender their inhibitions and follow the weirdness of their instincts – creating an organic, live record committed to straight to tape with minimal overdubs and all mistakes intact.
While ‘The Rover’ tells the tale of an ‘unhinged by magnetic cult leader‘ seeking to take in the masses, Marauder’s cover features an iconic photo of Attorney General Elliot Richardson resigning in 1973 after refusing President Nixon’s orders to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who was leading an investigation into the Watergate scandal. You can’t help but sense that Interpol in 2018 are a band hell-bent on being a partisan party, kicking against the grain and rocking on their own terms.
This is the second album you’ve made without Carlos D. How would you describe your chemistry as a three-piece now?
Paul: “I think the energy in the studio this time was slightly different from the last record, which was the first time we worked without Carlos. Last time we found our sea legs as a trio, this time it was just a continuation of that. There was no stage of ‘can we write cool music together?’ We know we can write cool music together, so what’s next? I remember on ‘El Pintor’, we finished on a song called ‘Tidal Wave’, which was a really neat drum and bass interplay. That’s where Sam I left off. That was the pinnacle of our evolution together at that point. This time there’s a lot of rhythmical interplay. It’s a really fun seat to sit in. There are a couple of songs that are slightly ‘swingier’.”
Sam: “It wasn’t even thought about. If ‘El Pintor’ was moving along without someone who was once so instrumental in the process, you really can’t stop working – it’s almost an insult. You have to have a little faith and give it a little leeway to Paul finding his feet [on bass]. This time it was like ‘that’s Paul, that’s what he does, that’s how this band operates now’. He stepped it up even further this time and wants it to be just as honed as any of his other contributions.”
You’ve never made the same record twice. How would you describe the character and spirit of ‘Marauder’?
Paul: “I think that there’s something very direct to this record that maybe sets it apart from some of the other ones. There’s a quality of minimalism that we tried to preserve. We try to keep it more faithful to what we were trying to achieve in the room without letting Pro-Tools make you want to ‘perfect’ anything. I would just play the songs top to bottom, because Fridmann [Dave, producer] got really excited by that possibility. It’s a very minimal, stripped-down rock recording – and I don’t think a lot of records get made that way these days.”
Lyrically, what would you say that the album is dealing with?
Paul: “These are things that become more clear as I talk to more people about it. I don’t have an over-arching agenda, but now I feel that having evolved past some previous self is intermingling with a sense that you’re not yet fully realised. You’re not everything that you would aspire to be as a person. With that nostalgia, there’s a sense of accomplishment and what you have done. There’s a tension of being better but not perfect.”
Speaking of nostalgia, did you learn anything about yourselves on ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’ for the 15th anniversary tour last year?
Paul: “I don’t know how that affected the new record in a really concrete way. What it did though was give us a good context and perspective. While you’re writing new music, you get to see what it’s like to play your music to an audience. It was cool as an artist to revisit your early work rather than say ‘oh, now I want to do something different’. It’s like ‘I’m a very different artist now to back then’, and we got our creative juju flowing as a live act again. That came into the studio with us. We were a very unified band when we recorded this record, and that was probably helped by having recently performed live together for ‘Bright Lights’.”
Daniel: “We were so far along with writing the new record and usually I don’t want to interrupt that, but this time when the idea came up to do the ‘Bright Lights’ shows we thought ‘Maybe this will be good for us’. We already had 90% of the material written. We were already playing quite tightly together, then by leaving the songs alone for three and entering a different setting and it all just came together. It gave us a little bit of confidence and assurance.”
So it wasn’t a headfuck to revisit that time in such depth?
Paul: “If we hadn’t had anything on the docket then it might have felt all retro, but I would recommend it to another band. If you’re in the middle of writing a new record then go play some shows and get that energy flowing. It just felt invigorating, grounding and inspiring – so certainly not a headfuck.”
Daniel: “It wasn’t a question of nostalgia, it was like ‘yeah, why not?’ We’re proud of our history and everything we’ve done. It was really fun. Also, there was something new to it. There were people in the audience who were teenagers who couldn’t see us when the record first came out. Maybe the fans were more nostalgic then we were. We play that record now faithful to how we recorded it. It was a very live record and we were mindful of having it sound live. In that way, we haven’t changed that much.
Would you ever do that for another record? ‘Antics’ maybe?
Daniel: “I’m totally up for doing ‘Marauder’ 15 years from now from top to finish.”
Sam: “It depends on the three of us and would have to feel right. It’s a really delicate situation in revisiting something in its entirety. If we were in a spot where we had the opportunity to do that again, I don’t think it would ever take precedence over putting something new out.”
How was it to be celebrating ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’ at the same time that so much focus was on the early ’00s New York scene when the book ‘Meet Me In The Bathroom‘ was released?
Paul: “I didn’t experience [it] in that way. I didn’t read the book. From where I am, I didn’t feel like it was all that long ago. All of that contextual framing of things is for other people to do. I’m more busy doing the thing. I’m stoked that people were interested in that period of New York City rock and wanted to come hear that record played live, so it was all good vibes to me.
“Just because something can be framed after the event without a real certain set of factors, doesn’t mean it was like that. When I was 22 and doing it, I wasn’t aware of all those bands, I wasn’t aware that up until that time there maybe hadn’t been that many good bands. Looking back, you can be like ‘holy shit, that was a very fertile moment’, but it was just my youth and my record. Watching the Strokes take off and skyrocket was cool, but they weren’t a band that I even knew existed before that.”
Not that many bands from back then have survived, let alone evolved. Do you feel much fraternity with these artists?
Daniel: “TV On The Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Strokes – even the bands that we didn’t know personally, I do feel a connection to them. Even though we were put into the same paragraphs in the early days, there’s been way more of a bonding thing now because of that. I don’t look in terms of who survived and who didn’t survive. Bands are very fragile things. If you put out a few records then you’ve survived. With Arcade Fire, it’s more about the bands you saw in the airport and things like that. I feel a kinship with the Yeahs, The Strokes and bands who aren’t a band anymore like The Walkmen.”
Paul: “Arctic Monkeys are from a slightly different time, but I’m always chuffed and those are great contemporaries to be in the conversation with, for sure. I really admire all of the bands associated with that moment in time: The Strokes, Liars, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV On The Radio, I also want to talk more about Ratatat, The Walkmen and Arctic Monkeys. Those really are phenomenal bands. I certainly feel solidarity and fraternity with bands from that time, I’m just proud to be part of that. I do feel like the cool kids will be wearing one shirt of a band from that time and the really cool kids will be wearing a Walkmen t-shirt. That’s my dream. They’ll be like the Velvet Underground where it just takes everybody a while.”
Watch our full video interview with the band at the top of the page
Interpol release ‘Marauder’ on August 24. As well as two intimate album launch shows in London this month, the band’s winter UK and European tour dates are below. Visit here for tickets and more information.
14 – London, UK – Royal Albert Hall
15 – London, UK – Royal Albert Hall
16– Manchester, UK – O2 Apollo – w/ Nilüfer Yanya
18 – Dublin, Ireland – Olympia Theatre – w/ Nilüfer Yanya
19 – Dublin, Ireland – Olympia Theatre – w/ Nilüfer Yanya
23 – Hamburg, Germany – Mehr! Theater – w/ Nilüfer Yanya
24 – Copenhagen, Denmark – TAP1
25 – Berlin, Germany – Tempodrom – w/ Nilüfer Yanya
27 – Utrecht, Netherlands – Tivoli Vredenburg – w/ Nilüfer Yanya
28 – Brussels, Belgium – Forest National – w/ Nilüfer Yanya
29 – Paris, France – La Salle Pleyel