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
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