Man­hat­tan’s ma­raud­ers

In­ter­pol’s Paul Banks ranks his riffs and his per­sonal well­be­ing ahead of an­other trip here to show us what they’ve still got, writes Mikey Cahill

Herald Sun - Hit - - COVER STORY -

IN­TER­POL have still got it. They’ve seen off chal­lengers to their moody, post-punk, rock’n’roll throne. The Ed­i­tors and White Lies still have ca­reers but the New York act are the only band who can lay a gen­uine claim to have picked up some­where near where Joy Di­vi­sion left off in 1980.

The Man­hat­tan quar­tet (now a trio af­ter a split with tru­cu­lent mem­ber Car­los Den­gler) started way back in 2002 with Turn On the Bright Lights and re­cently put out their sixth al­bum Ma­rauder. They’ve never dropped off.

Last time In­ter­pol played Falls Fes­ti­val in 2010 their main com­pe­ti­tion on the bill was The Na­tional, Klax­ons, The Rap­ture, The Soft Pack and Hot Hot Heat. Apart from The Na­tional, those other acts have bit­ten the dust. Lead singer Paul Banks tries to put his fin­ger on why his out­fit has lasted all these sea­sons.

“As far as our band, In­ter­pol, it’s a re­ally good ques­tion and I think it’s be­cause we’ve kept the for­mula in the band sta­ble over time.

“I sup­pose the key one is if the band still has a cre­ative spark to­gether, are the mu­si­cians still in or not? We’re very for­tu­nate that we still stim­u­late each other. We al­ways wanted this (ca­reer) and as adults we’re very lucky we have an artis­tic ven­ture that’s still avail­able to us.”

Af­ter Den­gler left to pur­sue an act­ing ca­reer, they de­cided against re­plac­ing him. His act­ing re­sume on IMDB has a soli­tary en­try: he plays An­gel in

Nowhere (Short), which is in post-pro­duc­tion.

Ma­rauder comes af­ter their hal­cyon days were cel­e­brated in Meet Me In the Bath­room, au­thor Lizzy Good­man’s ode to the de­light­ful and de­vi­ous band times dur­ing New York’s early 2000s rock re­vival.

“We make it a pri­or­ity to keep In­ter­pol’s in­spi­ra­tion alive. It’s like a mar­riage, it’s takes work, yadda yadda. We’ve never had one foot in this and one foot in an­other thing, this the thing that we do. We’re equally tem­pered as in­di­vid­u­als. That’s just luck.”

Kiwi singer and Sil­ver Scroll win­ner Mar­lon Wil­liams said song­writ­ers are can­ni­bals of their own lives. Ma­rauder is a more per­sonal record for Banks, the ti­tle refers to pil­lag­ing and plun­der­ing. Is Banks the can­ni­bal of his own life to sat­isfy his artis­tic im­pulses? “Hmm. I’ve al­ways been try­ing to un­cover my deep­est se­crets and truths in the form of love songs. My nar­ra­tive ap­proach has changed. Rather than hav­ing to do men­tal origami to un­lock it and get to the core, this is more this is what I’m say­ing.

“I was think­ing a lit­tle bit of the Nick Caves and the Leonard Co­hens; al­low­ing the mu­sic to have a sense of ac­quired wis­dom through life ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s more grounded in my own life rather than ab­strac­tions,” he says, com­ing back to the ques­tion, “it’s al­ways can­ni­bal­is­ing of my own life — that quote rings true.”

Songs on Ma­rauder such as It Prob­a­bly Mat­ters, Com­pli­ca­tions and Moun­tain Child re­cap­ture the most po­tent and dra­matic mo­ments of their back cat­a­logue (think Ob­sta­cle 1, A Time To Be So Small, PDA, The Hein­rich Ma­neu­ver) while Banks opens up a vein.

“Moun­tain Child is a more dis­tant pro­jec­tion, it ex­ists in the realm of the younger phase of The Rover. Com­pli­ca­tions is a good ex­am­ple of me try­ing to sim­plify my themes, good call.”

Banks sings on Com­pli­ca­tions: “But all pre­oc­cu­pa­tions are sud­denly sim­ple/ When I let my sec­ond na­ture win.”

The gui­tar-play­ing singer can’t help men­tion­ing: “It also fea­tures my No.1 riff on the al­bum, it’s al­ways a plea­sure to play that, it’s rau­cous and garage-y and I play it in the outro. It’s my favourite coun­ter­point to what Daniel’s (Kessler) do­ing. It’s the most true to what I as­pire to do with a gui­tar and I ac­com­plished it,” he says be­fore laugh­ing at his self-com­men­tary, “It’s ridicu­lous, right, to rank your own riffs?”

The suave Man­hat­tan­ite turned 40 a few months ago and he’s happy to con­tinue the rank­ing theme on him­self.

“I think the phys­i­cal side is all good. The men­tal side I’m tak­ing stock. There’s been some pay-off to all these years of in­tro­spec­tion. A lift­ing of veils I guess. There’s gotta be some up­side to get­ting old, it’s self aware­ness re­ally. I rec­om­mend ther­apy. But my knees are all right, I don’t have back pain. I box and I surf — the box­ing will keep you in shape.”

And he raps in the shower. “I go for Tha Carter V from Lil Wayne. He re­ally de­liv­ered. He’s f---ing on fire.”

Banks is tight with “RZA and some other guys in Wu (Tang Clan)” and he’s been talk­ing up Drake, Mi­gos and 21 Sav­age lately.

Look­ing at this Falls Fes­ti­val bill, I am the lucky mes­sen­ger who tells him he’ll be spend­ing time with an­other band who have re­ally lasted. Toto. Yes, the

Toto. They’re not in Kansas any more.

“Toto are play­ing? Holy s---, wow. That’s awe­some. Africa

was one of those songs that did blow my mind as a child. I had firm and strong re­ac­tions to mu­sic as a kid, both to things I liked and didn’t like. Some things I al­most didn’t like but they were awe­some and ‘The rains down in Africa’ was one of them. It was ubiq­ui­tous in my child­hood and you still hear it a bunch. Weezer cov­ered it and it went back up the charts. Africa

was a re­ally grand pop hit and I re­mem­ber be­ing in­trigued and so per­plexed by it, ‘What are you talk­ing about?’”

SEE IN­TER­POL, Falls Fes­ti­val, Lorne, Dec 28-Jan 1. Sold out. falls­fes­ti­val.com. Palais Theatre, Lower Es­planade, St Kilda. Jan 4. $89.90. tick­et­mas­ter.com.au

“TOTO ARE PLAY­ING? HOLY S---, WOW. THAT’S AWE­SOME. AFRICA BLEW MY MIND AS A CHILD”

IN­TER­POL’S GREG DRUDY, PAUL BANKS AND DANIEL KESSLER ARE HEAD­ING BACK DOWN UN­DER

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