New York’s elegant, atmospheric gloom rockers talk to Time Out
Kim Taylor Bennett
New York’s elegant, atmospheric gloom rockers released their fourth, self-titled album earlier this year. On the record, the trio – Daniel Kessler, Paul Banks and Sam Fogarino – present expertly controlled sustain and release, tense guitar lines and singer Banks’s icily erotic way with melody.
Wet Hot American Summer is a tour bus flick fave. Daniel Kessler (guitar): ‘We had this incredible road trip driving from Chicago to Charleston – 18 hours in a bus on our day off – but on that day off we rewatched Wet Hot American Summer. On our very first tour in 2002, in a 15-seater van, we took turns watching it on the laptop and having individual giggles. It’s over-the-top silly, but there are lines from that movie that we still pull now. A cult classic.’
Banks has several tattoos. Paul Banks: ‘I’ve got a babe on my arm – it’s an Alphonse Mucha picture – and I have the word “nice” under it. Also, I have a quote from my favourite author, Henry Miller, on my ribs. In one of his books, he was writing about a troubled time in his life, and he says he was: “Not wholly wrong, but deeply erring.” After I made some life changes it really resonated as a commemoration: I’ve messed up and hurt other people and those things are permanent. You can make amends and redeem yourself, but that happened. I’m not going to say I’m a terrible human being, but I acknowledge that I made mistakes.’
In Banks’s spare time he surfs, drums and paints, though not all at the same time. PB: ‘I don’t have it in my goals to enter a surfing competition or go to a drumoff, but I like the idea – if I have X amount of abilities, then how can I best exploit them? The best way to exploit your abilities is persistence and time, so I look forward to painting until I think I’m good at it, and playing drums is just so much fun. I’m happy I found it in time to be able to enjoy it for a while.’
On third album Our Love to Admire, Banks was exploring a lyrical bent that was ‘more arrogant and chauvinistic’. His reason? To attract actresses. PB: ‘I’m not actually as arrogant as some of the narrators of the songs on the third record. I think I was trying to get chicks by copying that attitude. I tried to make actresses feel insecure so they’d call me. You know they say if you’re an a*****e, they like that – that was sort of the stance I was going for.’
Turns out that plan didn’t quite work out… PB: ‘I didn’t get a call from any actresses. I was like, “Why doesn’t Lindsay Lohan call me once in a while?” I thought: They’re already insecure, so maybe if I act like I’m not into them they’ll call up my publicist and give me a ring. It didn’t happen.’ For this album there’s a new lyrical attitude. One that’s more vulnerable, more mature.
PB: ‘Now I’m over it in so many ways in my life. Not in a defeated way, but in a more spiritual way, I think it was a more mellow temperament to assume. I don’t mind showing myself to be the loser, which is what the narrator on a lot of these songs is doing, because I’m Zen.’
Even so, music is still all about the ladies… PB: ‘Everything is about trying to get ladies, for me at least.’ Interpol’s self-titled album is available now on iTunes.