For those who are unfamiliar with Interpol, it is only polite that I introduce the four main actors of this story. Fogarino described them once as “same book, different pages.” (SPIN, 2005). The gist you got from the four when reading features on them post-TOTBL is one where you realise these aren’t so much friends as they are dogged creatives who recognise that each one of them has something individual to contribute. Often, the interviewer doesn’t even get them in the same room for most of the feature.
The kind of aloof attitude the band exhibits is seen to some as egotistical but, for me, it comes off as a self-preservation mechanism. Interpol have often expressed that they want their music alone to speak on behalf of them.
I feel that sometimes they did act a little cocky –which band hasn’t? –but found there was always one member (normally, Sam) who would make sure they didn’t come off as too dickish (with the exception of Carlos D, who was opinionated at best and dismissive at worst). I believe that the only time we will ever see Interpol at their most organic and relaxed would be as an invisible guest in their recording studio, away from the Dictaphone and the press badge. This further emphasises their unique make-up –never do they give too much away, further cementing that you will never get to look behind the curtain. I respect them for this as a band as I believe that keeping something for themselves has, in a lot of ways, helped them to retain their identities, sanity and longevity –all of which I am most grateful for. The public and press often need to realise that bands, while still being regular people, do not owe them anything other than the music. Besides, I’d rather they shut us out and let us enjoy the benefits of a good album than try to be accessible.
Paul Banks: vocals, guitar and bass guitar
Banks is the baby of the band, with the angelic face to boot. Based on his appearance when Interpol started, you would have expected him to be on his own, trying to make it as an emotional coffee-shop guitarist who worked as an Abercrombie and Fitch model by day. In interviews, Banks comes off as an introvert whose body language and sometimes awkward behaviour clearly demonstrate the fact that he would rather be anywhere else.
Banks is the epitome of an old soul –someone whose vision transcends things like age, experience and position. Banks’ anchor seems to be the constant creation of music judged by his constant solo work (Julian Plenti Is…Skyscraper, Julian Plenti Lives… and Banks). However, he often shows off his eclectic tastes and mischievous side –the slogan of his website, “Everybody on my dick like they supposed to be” is from a Rick Ross song and is the name of Banks’s hip hop mixtape. He also used a Gibson Flying V with the word “breasts” spelled out in white tape during the Our Love To Admire's era, although I shockingly cannot find photographic evidence of this.
Banks fluent in Spanish after living in both Spain and Mexico as a child, it’s a real trip to see him all of sudden start speaking in Spanish during interviews.
Paul Banks and Sam Fogarino interview: Primavera Soundfest 2011
Daniel Kessler: guitar and vocals
Kessler and his ever-changing yet lustrous hair is the ultimate Renaissance man. Along with the sartorial, he has a deep love for food, even owning his own upmarket seafood restaurant, Bergen Hill, complete with Le Cirque alum chef. Kessler is sphinx-like; his even tone and placid manner of speaking puts you instantly at ease and almost hypnotises you along with the extremely intelligent conversation pouring out of his mouth. Despite this, there is a sense of self-effacement –Kessler may be well-read and sharply tailored, yet you don’t feel like you want to punch him for being smug about it; you want him to take you to get the best meal of your life.
When he’s onstage, no one could be more limber and less self-conscious. He manages to pull off such a unique way of dancing and playing guitar, which shows just how much the music is it’s own world which cannot be put into words. Kessler jamming away while letting his feet do the electric slide all over Glastonbury’s stage this year was a highlight I felt glad YouTube made happen.
Kessler’s happy dance at Primavera Sound Fest 2011
Sam Fogarino: drummer
When I was at school I was happy to get involved in drama classes. I enjoyed the fun side of filming, playacting and mucking about. I knew that it would never be my path in life –securing my parents’ relief. Fogarino is a rock “lifer.” This is a man who first picked up drumsticks at aged thirteen and never stopped or thought to. Fogarino is seen as the genial older brother of the band and has been the most approachable to media, although he isn’t above telling it like it is as you will see this week.
After playing multiple bands around America for ten years, Kessler approached Fogarino, then working in a vinyl store, to replace drummer Greg Drudy in 2000. Even though Fogarino has hit the big time, he is still the coolest guy and now lives in Athens, Georgia, where he participates in a range of musical collaborations. His love for Interpol is definitely one you can feel with every drum beat.
And our contentious Carlos D: former bass player
If there was anyone who tried to be more mysterious but ended up more transparent than ever, it was Carlos D. The member most unlike anyone else in the band –at times it felt like he wasn’t like any other human being –Carlos D had a penchant for the extreme and the dramatic. One moment he was a matador-inspired party monster in favour of losing himself to concrete as far the eye could see, groupies and substances, the next he was advocating healthy living and making videos of his dog. Interpol were and are moody, atmospheric and dark, but they did not court the romantic notion of fame like Carlos D did. Carlos D went from wanting Interpol out on the world stage to excluding himself completely from the band, leaving before the fourth album had been completed. Kessler and Banks have been diplomatic about his departure when pushed by the press. Fogarino, true to his beliefs, saw it as personal considering the rest of the band’s commitment and love for what they are.
I do very much love Interpol as the foursome they were, especially when confronted with the lacklustre self-titled album of 2010. However, this is not going to be a series of posts devoted to Interpol before and after Carlos D. If you can interpret the signs, his departure was not unprecedented and it was the best decision for Carlos D himself. This is not to say I don’t miss him in the band, I just have more faith in the adage of getting back on the horse, which I feel Interpol always has.