An oldie but goldie interview with Interpol

During the course of this coming year, we will bring you interviews with some veritable heroes of rock that we lost (amongst the junk of the Incendiary shed), weren’t published due to legal considerations, or ones that we frankly forgot to publish. Here is one of them. Interpol in 2004.

During the course of this coming year, we will bring you interviews with some veritable heroes of rock that we lost (amongst the junk of the Incendiary shed), weren’t published due to legal considerations, or ones that we frankly forgot to publish. Here is one of them. Interpol in 2004.

An oldie but goldie interview with Interpol


Incendiary Magazine presents; “from the vaults” – classic interviews….

During the course of this coming year, we will bring you interviews with some veritable heroes of rock that we lost (amongst the junk of the Incendiary shed), weren’t published due to legal considerations, or ones that we frankly forgot to publish. Here is one of them. Interpol in 2004.


Incendiary spoke to Paul Banks and Carlos D on September 24th, 2004 the morning after their show at De Melkweg. These two brilliant young men opened my eyes to the art of heckling, Shepard Fairey and Open Disc Technology. It was awesome, dudes… awesome.



IN: How did feel about the show last night?


Paul: I thought it was a tight show. I had an interesting time. I had smoked some hash…can I say that? …hours before and I never do that. It made it really enjoyable for me but it also gave me a weird perspective that I don’t usually have because I never smoke anything before I play usually. So it kind of altered my perspective of the show but I think it was a good show.



IN: You recently toured with the Cure – what was that like?


Paul: I had a great time on that tour. They really surprised me. The first time I watched them from the side of the stage I gravitated to all the new songs they were playing off their new record. I hadn’t heard the record before the tour. Every time they played one of the new ones it really jumped out at me. It’s really strong, inspired material.


The other thing was that I couldn’t believe how good his voice is live. It blew my mind that he is better live than he is on record and it’s that voice and everyone knows that voice because it’s such an amazing one. To hear it live absolutely flawlessly was like holy shh – this is an incredible band! I watched them pretty much every night of the tour and it never got old or boring at all and that awe inspiring quality was there until the end. That was complimented by the fact that they were all very nice, social people. They didn’t hide themselves away or act snotty. They totally interacted with every band that they took out on tour and are really nice guys. The whole thing was pleasantly easy and enjoyable.


IN: Do you worry about that as a singer – how your voice will sound through the years?


Paul: It’s a gift. It’s something you’re born with. He lived pretty hard but he doesn’t look worse for wear. In person he looks pretty healthy and vibrant. His voice doesn’t seem to have deteriorated at all. Bowie‘s voice is also great. I know he smoked a shit load but some people have that ability to maintain their voice.


IN: You guys recorded in Connecticut again…


Carlos D: Yeah, Did you hear that guy yelling ‘Bridgeport!’ last night?


Paul: Yeah, I met that guy after the show and I truly thought that was really funny…


Carlos D: Oh no, I thought it was really clever.


Paul: Afterwards he was there and he was like in his late thirties, sober, intelligent funny guy.


IN: He’s a conceptual artist named Otto Berchem.


Carlos D: You know this person? That has to be some of the wittiest heckling I have ever heard in my life. Normally we get these stupid, stupid, stupid comments.


IN: He’s gonna love this. I’m gonna call him in a minute and tell him this.It’s good to be witty when you heckle. Heckling implies being a asshole -bastard -lowest common denominator.


Paul: But this one was good spirited. The best one I ever got was what turned out to be a good buddy of mine and when it happened we were on the Curiosa Tour and someone just shouts out – You’re My Boy Blue! That’s what Will Ferrer says at the funeral of his friend Blue in the movie ‘Old School’ after he plays ‘Dust in the Wind’. You’re My Boy Blue!, that was shouted at me from the audience and I did a double take and thought, That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever fucking heard on stage and it turned out to be my very good friend who didn’t know that I’d seen the movie the night prior for the fith time. It’s so funny.


IN: Why did you go back to Connecticut to record?


Paul: We wanted to go back to same studio we already used so we could better use the gear and get our own sounds and exploit our knowledge of that equipment, that studio, and the engineer. The other thing was that we didn’t look at the recording of this record as our big elaborate or extravagant kind of magnum opus. That’s correct right? An opus is kind of like a huge…


Carlos D: …an opus is your work.


Paul: Body of work?


Carlos D: Body of work.


Paul: So opus is the wrong word.


Carlos D: No, It’s not body of work – it’s a work.


Paul: So it’s fine. It’s very grand.


Carlos D: Yes, it’s a big work.


Paul: We kind of looked at it like we were gonna put out another rock record that was written and recorded like our first one with the four of us in our little room in Brooklyn and we’re just gonna go record it and we’re not gonna fucking – sorry for swearing – hire a symphony or rent a celloist. We’re just gonna…


Carlos D: Cellist.


Paul: Cellist. We’re gonna keep within the same parameters because it felt like the authentic thing to do in our position now was to make a record in the same way that we did the first one. Then we factored in the consideration that if you go into a new studio you don’t even know if you’re gonna get along with the engineer. You don’t know what the gear’s gonna be like. If we wanted to preserve that recording method yadda yadda… or can serve an esprit to the second record it was important to skip over all those other variables like getting along with someone and liking the studio and stuff. 


And, there was no good bar to drink at afterwards in Connecticut. There was nothing to do in Connecticut.


IN: No coffee houses?


Paul: No no no, it’s a really nearly-dead area in Connecticut. There’s one bar that was walking distance.


Carlos D: Its chief advantage was that it had a pool table.


Paul: Oh dude, Marriot up the block – pool table in the back of the bar.


Carlos D: No way, let’s go. Awesome, awesome.


IN: Can you tell me something about the Interpol Space?


Carlos D: It’s like a merchandise kinda place. It’s like a store where you can get merchandise that you can’t get anywhere else. You can’t get it on the internet – right?


Paul: Well, I think saying merchandise is a little misleading because it isn’t so much …as a bonus perk you can buy some stuff.


Carlos D: Ok. Well I guess I’m saying that because it’s not simply a gallery space – it primarily looks and feels like a gallery space.


IN: Is it a gallery space that you rent out?


Paul: It’s a store front.


Carlos D: And you can buy stuff there too. Shepard Fairey designed the prints that are on the walls of the space – four different ones of each of us, and it has a constructivist kind of atmosphere, like lots of lines intersecting. It’s a very dense print, painting, image; whatever. A print which is contrary to the way we normally present ourselves, because usually we have a minimalist vibe, visually.  At first glance it’s like whoa, that’s completely never the way I see this band but then the more you look at it, the more you see that it’s not tangential but may be a reinterpretation of the way we normally visually present ourselves.


Paul: It’s collaboration with Shepard Fairey


IN: Is that an art group?


Paul: No that’s his name


IN: Sorry


Paul: No, it’s a funny name. He created ‘Andre the Giant Has A Posse’. You ever see that? You know who Andre the Giant is? Have you ever seen a black and white stencil of his face on a wall? Maybe with the word ‘obey’ underneath it.


Carlos D: It’s probably not here.


Paul: No, it’s everywhere. I’ve seen one in Tokyo. I haven’t seen it here but they’re all over the world. I think he went to RISD for college and he’s been doing it for 15 years and it’s like a faux advertising, faux propaganda kinda thing. The point is to make people reconsider all the imagery they take in unconsciously day to day from advertising and how it’s all taken for granted and it’s all there kind of beaming into your head. It was his way of shaking that up and proving his point. 


It makes people think a little bit and it struck me the first time I saw it eight years ago in New York. Then, in another part of New York, you’ll just see the eyes somewhere on a wall. When I worked at a magazine I tried to write a piece on him and then 3 or 4 years later he’s backstage at one of our shows saying he loves our band. That was the beginning of our relationship.


So the space, I look at it more as a mixture between a club house and a gallery. The other thing is to give the people a sense of interacting with the band in a really interesting way that I haven’t heard of happening before just to get people in the atmosphere of the record.


IN: It’s a very nice idea. It reminded me of the Apple building from The Beatles – did that inspire you in any way?


Carlos D: The Apple building from The Beatles?


IN: Paul and John wanted to have happenings. They wanted to do something to get in touch with the people through an art space.


Carlos D: The idea was thought up by our marketing team in our label. It was an ingenious idea and when it was initially proposed we were floored. I didn’t even know that John and Paul had done that. May be they were inspired by John and Paul but I don’t know.


IN: You had remixes by Dan the Automator and Britt Daniel from Spoon what are they like? Are they dance remixes?


Carlos D: The Dan the Automator one is. The Britt Daniel one, he did an interesting take on our song which was totally unexpected for me and not typical of a re-mixer. He basically took things away from the song and that was his remix. He rearranged things and it was really interesting for me to see how he totally strips down the song but decided to keep certain aspects of it and it made me think why did he decide to keep those aspects of it? What was it about the song that made him decide I don’t want this but I’ll just keep this little bit there? I found it to be a very awesome remix. It’s very bass and drum-heavy – he took the guitars out for the most part.


Paul: It sounds a little bit like Spoon to me – within that aesthetic. You know like the really minimal quality that Spoon has?


IN: Where are these remixes available – through the space?


Carlos D: No, they’re supposed to be the b-sides of Slow Hands, the single.



IN: What is Open Disc Technology? It’s written here on your CD.


Paul: Open Disc Technology is from this company based out of France. It’s a way of getting people to buy the CD instead of just downloading it from the internet. The CD itself works as a key. So you put it in your computer and it gives you access to a website and from the website you have access to limited material, like song 7. The only way to get access to the website is to physically insert the CD into your computer.


IN: People can’t download song 7 and put in on the internet?


Paul: No. It’s not so much to punish people who download but to give something extra to those that go out and buy the record.


IN: Do you guys have a problem with people downloading for the internet?


Carlos D: Well inherently there is no problem and inherently if you do have a problem with it then you’ve got a problem because that’s the way we’ll be listening to music in ten years. So there’s no problem with it. We’re just in a very, very strange time where the industry that revolves around music has not caught up the culture that has developed around the listening of music.

This why people resort to downloading. And that is why our album leaked out three months in advance. So as an artist, it’s very upsetting but I think it would be extremely simple-minded of me to criticize what is going on because I realise we are in a transition phase and our second album just happened to come out during a time when we are basically serving as guinea pigs and people will remember what happened to Antics and they will chuckle about it because it won’t be a problem anymore. Lars Ulrich got criticized so badly because he was making such a big deal about something that’s not really that big of a problem.


Paul: And also it looked bad because he was attacking kids and a kid in particular – it didn’t look so good.


IN: One last question. It’s an election year and the Rebuplican Convention was just in New York. Do you feel insulted as a New Yorker that it was there?


Paul: No, not at all.


IN: s that a strange question?


Paul: No, I just don’t feel insulted. He’s the president that got elected and it’s a major city in the Untied States.


But do you think they chose it on purpose?


Carlos D: Oh yeah, well for publicity – “We’re republican we can roll into the city if we feel like it and have our convention here”.


Paul: And also for the sympathy for 9/11. No, I didn’t feel insulted. I think it was quite daring because there was so much protest and I think New York rose to the occasion – get outta here you dickwads!


Words: Tiffany Davenport.