With their dapper pin-striped suits, dark glasses and stylish dos, it would be
easy to peg the members of Interpol for an ironic British new wave band from the
1980s. And a listen to their dark, atmospheric music, with its nods to Joy
Division, New Order and Echo & the Bunnymen surfacing in their clipped songs
featuring staccato bass, heavy snare and intricate guitar harmonies, only
strengthens that assessment.
However, Interpol is as New York as they
come, wearing their Manhattan rock & roll attitude on their carefully
tailored sleeves. And according to drummer Sam Fogarino, labelling the popular
post-punk rockers in any way misses the point.
“We’ve never really spoken
about one singular source of inspiration, due to the fact that there simply
isn’t,” said Fogarino in an email interview with The Jerusalem Post
ahead of the
band’s debut in Israel on August 30 at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.
collective, we don’t site/reference other bands as an ‘influence’... Points of
reference within our extremely insular fold are always way more abstract than
just pointing to someone else’s chord progression, or style of arrangement.
Jointly, we’re moved far more by film and literature, rather than just another
band/artist – or, better yet, a small numbers of bands that came out of the
blight of England in the early ’80s.”
“And as far as appearance goes, the
suit, as a mode of fashion, can in no way be claimed by any one band. Men
have been wearing suits far longer than the advent of post-modern music. If
we’re ripping off anyone, it’s Chet Baker!”
No matter who their sources are,
Interpol has developed a winning formula since rising to international attention
at the beginning of the decade as part of New York City’s gritty rock revival
along with bands like the Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeah. Their 2002 debut Turn On
The Bright Lights
set the bar high for Fogarino and his band mates,
guitarist/singer Paul Banks, guitarist Daniel Kessler and recently departed
bassist Carlos Dengler. And its worldwide success quickly catapulted them out of
the category of ‘New York band’ forever.
“It did reach a point when it
seemed we were no longer a part of the ‘scene’ in NYC?. We had moved on from
just playing locally to globally, and with a certain measure of accomplishment
comes the backlash,” said the 43-year-old Fogarino, who joined Interpol in 2000
following the departure of original drummer Greg Drudy.
“As for our
contemporaries of that period, early 2000s – we’ve always shown a great deal of
support, respect, and admiration towards those bands – such as The Strokes, Yeah
Yeah Yeah, Radio 4, et al.”
Through three more albums, the most recent
being last year’s self-titled offering which many observers considered a return
to the heights of Turn on the Bright Lights, Interpol has established itself as
a leading indie rock attraction – so much so that they were asked by U2 to join
them as the opening act on their recently concluded international summer stadium
tour. Although they were performing to audiences considerably larger than their
regular level, and the great majority of the crowd was there to see the
headliners, Fogarino said that the band didn’t attempt to change their show to
compensate for the circumstances.
“We’ve been at this thing for over a
decade, and up until recently, we’ve never really supported any other bands for
more than a one-off, or two night stand – let alone a full on stadium tour,” he
“We just thought ‘why not?’ It was a lot of fun to do. We’d
just hit their massive stage and bang out 45 minutes of our music, and that was
that. Many of U2’s audiences all over the US and the EU were very kind, if not
downright, amazing to play for.”
One adjustment the band did have to make
was to adapt to the absence of bassist Dengler’s departure. A founding member,
he left the band after the recording of the fourth album was completed. However,
according to Fogarino, even though they didn’t name a permanent replacement,
Interpol took the move in stride.
“To be honest, the adjustment period
after his departure was very brief. We’ve managed to move on without missing a
step,” he said, adding that they’ve been too busy to contemplate adding a
“We went out and did some press in Europe, prior to rehearsing
for a world tour lasting 15 months (at present we have one month to go before we
end the cycle.) At this point in time, we just need to take a break from the
whole enterprise. When the time is right, we’ll discuss doing a new record, and
possibly adding a new permanent member.”
Interpol will be joined in Tel
Aviv by touring musicians Brad Lee Truax on bass and Brandon Michael Curtis on
keyboards, giving them a fuller, multileveled sound. Since the U2 tour ended,
they’ve been making the rounds of the summer European rock festivals, an
endeavor Fogarino finds invigorating.
“Playing festivals are a lot of
fun, indeed – a great deviation from the norm, with all of the other interesting
bands playing on the bill, and just socializing together in the common areas,”
“You never know who you’ll see – or what you’ll see!” Well into
their second decade together, the members of Interpol have seen a lot, and
despite the tendency to rest on their laurels or become jaded, the key to their
success, according to Fogarino, is to not take their success for
“It can surely be a challenge at times to keep the enthusiasm,
but we’ve all managed to keep our heads on straight by realizing this is a once
in a lifetime thing, that is in no person’s control,” he said.
kids in high school dream about making music and touring the world for a living?
How many of those kids actually succeed in doing so? That’s all one needs to
keep things in perspective.”