IN THE STU­DIO: INTERPOL

New York trio ready the “rock’n’roll bangers”.

Q (UK) - - Contents - NIALL DO­HERTY

Scarves at the ready, as the New York trio lay down tracks for their stun­ning sixth al­bum in an up­state win­ter won­der­land.

If they hadn’t been deep into writ­ing new ma­te­rial at the time, Interpol would have had reser­va­tions about em­bark­ing on last year’s tri­umphant tour to cel­e­brate the 15th an­niver­sary of their era-defin­ing de­but. Look­ing back and rev­el­ling in nostalgia isn’t a nat­u­ral fit for the New York trio but re­vis­it­ing the past fed into the present. Play­ing Turn On The Bright Lights to fren­zied crowds around the world meant they re­turned home with a spring in their step. “This was the first time we put a book­mark in the writ­ing process,” says gui­tarist Daniel Kessler, down the phone from Tar­box Road Stu­dios near Buf­falo, up­state New York, where the band are near­ing com­ple­tion on their new LP, ti­tled Ma­rauder. “It felt like a cel­e­bra­tion and it was a real op­por­tu­nity to check in with our fans, get our mo­tors revving,” adds front­man Paul Banks. “That sort of vis­ceral en­ergy you get from an au­di­ence, tour­ing old favourites – that’s a good en­ergy. It was a great thing to put in our pocket and bring back to the writ­ing process.” Kessler, Banks and drum­mer Sam Fog­a­rino run a tight ship, co-pro­duc­ing two of their first three records and do­ing the last two them­selves. As they be­gan throw­ing ideas around in late 2016, bas­ing them­selves in Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ re­hearsal space in New York while Karen O’s gang were out of town, they agreed it would be good to put pro­ducer and Flam­ing Lips col­lab­o­ra­tor Dave Frid­mann at the con­trols for their sixth record. “It felt like, when you did the math in your brain, it could make for a re­ally in­ter­est­ing re­sult,” says Kessler. They have had to adapt to Frid­mann’s sched­ule, record­ing in two-week bursts at his stu­dio, and Fog­a­rino thinks that giv­ing Frid­mann the role of “team cap­tain” has lib­er­ated them. “It gives you the free­dom to push it to the lim­its and let some­body rein you in,” says the drum­mer. At one point, the pro­ducer in­formed Banks, who has filled in on bass du­ties since the de­par­ture of Car­los Den­gler, that his part on a cer­tain song wasn’t up to scratch. “I got a bad grade on my bassline,” says Banks, who didn’t take it to heart. “I’m a bit more open to feed­back. It’s part of my new Zen ap­proach.” Kessler says Interpol never have a “what are we go­ing to do on this one, then?” meet­ing at the start of mak­ing a record. “It’s more in­tu­itive, like we’re all touch­ing a ouija board and it just moves,” he says. “We don’t have a plan.” To that end, Ma­rauder is a con­tin­u­a­tion of the trio’s ev­erso-sub­tle shape-shift­ing, each new LP adding a fresh dy­namic coat to their at­mo­spheric in­die­rock. Frid­mann has brought out a more loose-limbed feel, the rhyth­mic grooves not as tightly wound as on pre­vi­ous records.

That ap­proach adds an el­e­ment of men­ace to tracks such as Flight Of Fancy, which threat­ens to col­lapse in on it­self dur­ing an ex­hil­a­rat­ing outro. “There’s some tight-fisted rock’n’roll bangers on there,” says Banks, “and there’s a cou­ple of songs go­ing a lit­tle deeper into psy­che­delic, Pink Floyd mo­ments.” Banks ex­plains that gal­lop­ing opener If You Re­ally Love Noth­ing and claus­tro­pho­bic rocker Now You’ve Seen Me At Work con­tain themes on “the un­wield­i­ness of love.” “It ain’t easy, man, on these streets,” he laughs. Banks’s chief aim was to work out how to do his best work with­out tear­ing his hair out. “I’ve got my Jedi mojo go­ing as far as tap­ping into an au­to­matic writ­ing mode while main­tain­ing a con­scious eye on what I’m try­ing to say,” he says. “I’ve got a good bal­ance where it feels less ef­fort to get better work.” Banks’s Jedi mojo and Zen vibes mask the fact that Ma­rauder is the sound of Interpol at their most won­der­fully in­tense. Still brood­ing, never breezy, re­vis­it­ing the past has helped them to map out a thrilling new way for­ward.

“It’s like we’re all touch­ing a oui ja board and it just moves.” Daniel Kessler

Now and Zen: Interpol (left, from left) Sam Fog­a­rino, Paul Banks and Daniel Kessler, Tar­box Road Stu­dios, New York; (right) Banks and Kessler get in touch with the spirit realm.

Baby, it’s cold out­side: Fog­a­rino and Kessler, Tar­box Road Stu­dios, New York.

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