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- Posted on Sep 7th 2010 3:30PM by Liisa Ladouceur
Singer Paul Banks, guitarist Daniel Kessler and drummer Sam Fogarino may be down one man since bassist Carlos D. split camp, but with the release of their self-titled fourth album, they're far from down for the count. Drummer Sam Fogarino spoke to Spinner from a Toronto tour stop to ponder the pleasures and perils of being Interpol.
Since Interpol started, what's been the biggest change in the band?
Innocence. It's gone.
All of it? That sounds sad.
Well, with the loss of innocence comes experience and confidence. So, we're a bunch of well-read whores now. [Laughs] The other big thing is that you lose the chips on your shoulder. You realize that a lot of people that were citing Manchester as this Interpol influence, a lot of that was in a good light -- it turned people on to us.
So it wasn't a curse to be compared to Joy Division?
It felt like a curse at the time, because a new band doesn't want to sound like anybody else. But as you become a lot more confident in what you do, you realize it's not necessarily a bad thing. One would like to avoid it, but if it informs somebody and they come to your show and buy your records, there's nothing wrong with that.
Do you feel the same way about being considered a "New York" band? Much like Manchester, New York now has a sound, and it's partly your fault. Are you OK with that?
We take some responsibility. It's kind of funny because it doesn't feel like it ever really happened. There was a short period when you'd go out to a bar and you'd see Nick [Zinner] or Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or Tunde [Adebimpe] from TV on the Radio or one of the guys from the Strokes, but not much longer thereafter. We were all on the road, taking that New York Thing all over the world. A lot of the people that I would see on a daily basis, I haven't seen in years now. I used to see Nick Zinner on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn like, every other day. We'd stop on the street and talk about whatever. And Tunde used to come into the clothing shop I worked at and we'd have hour-long conversations towards closing time. And that all changed as soon as we all, one by one, signed record deals and started touring. It became kind of silly to us. When we were constantly asked about the New York scene, it was like, "I don't know. It's happening behind us."
A lot's been said about the departure of Carlos already but I want to know how it affects the rhythm section.
Yeah. Well, having David Pajo it's gone without missing a step. He's a massively talented musician. I mean, my God, that first Slint record, I think he was 20-years-old, and the level of musicianship and emotional statement on that record is timeless. It's kind of no surprise that he can handle what are probably the most intricate parts of Interpol songs, which are the bass lines. The funny thing is, between Carlos and I, in the 10 or so years we spent together, in terms of bass and drums there was very little verbal transaction between us. There was always an unspoken balance about what would inform the general rhythm of the song.
Well, you have that other language of music. You don't need to talk in English.
Thank God. Because there is a lot of pontificating in this band. There is a degree of higher intelligence in this f---ing band that does, at times, get in the way of writing music. The ability to articulate sometimes becomes detrimental.
Is it hard to be an "art band"? Do you ever wish you could just rock out like Motley Crue?
Yeah. And then I'd get really bored. My first band in New York was a garage band. I was playing songs with one hand and drinking beer with the other, y'know? That was fun for a few months. But then I was, like, there is no challenge here. At all.
So you're never going to get the flying Tommy Lee kit. You ever dream of that?
No! When I was coming up as a drummer, I fancied [Rolling Stones'] Charlie Watts. This cool, effortless, seemingly removed guy who didn't look like any of the rest of the band. I thought that was really cool. It gave them the freedom, the guys in the front, to do what they do. If what I do is solid, and doesn't vary, then the band can do what they want.
Why is there this sense of disappointment with your last record, 'Our Love To Admire?' It's not like you went and made [Metallica's] 'Load.'
There is a black cloud over it. I think people were ready to give a bit of a backlash to the band. In terms of how the band felt, it was just a weird time: new label, new management, being really road beaten. The whole thing. I'm still pleased with a lot of the music on the record, but in comparison to 'Antics' there was a great sense of disappointment. We'd also moved on to Capitol Records, who brought you Radiohead, and Sparklehorse and this other great legacy stuff. And then as soon as we rolled tape for 'OLTA,' [those people] were gone. And then it just kept tumbling from there. I don't know if that caused internal strife, but simultaneously, the band wasn't happy. For no one reason, there was just this blanket unhappiness.
Was there ever a sense you would break up?
No, we were always going to make another record.
Are you at all sad that with Carlos gone you won't have the same line-up forever?
No. With all due respect to Mr. Carlos D., I'm glad that he left, and that he's happy. Because I'm happy here, and I don't want to be around people that are unhappy. I never want to go through that again. Nobody should. The idea of grovelling to someone who doesn't want to be with you anymore, and you come out thinking,"What was I thinking? Why did I put every last essence of my person into this person, so they wouldn't leave me?" Why the f--- would I want them around, if they want me to change, or just aren't happy with my mere existence. So I'm sorry, but we're better off. I don't care how sexy he is. [Laughs] Sorry girls!
What's great about being in Interpol in 2010?
The fact that we may have crossed the threshold of the establishment. Not in a negative way. But we're here. We've carved our niche. There is a certain level of freedom that comes with that.