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Members include Paul Banks, vocals, guitar; Carlos Dengler, bass guitar; Greg Drudy (left group, 2000), drums; Sam Forgarino (joined group, 2000), drums; Daniel Kessler, guitar. Addresses: Record company--Matador Records, 625 Broadway, 12th Fl., New York, NY 10012, phone: (212) 995-5882, fax: (212) 995-5883. Website--Interpol Official Website: http://www.interpolny.com/.

Hailing from the same New York scene that birthed the likes of the Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Radio 4, Liars, the Rapture, TV on the Radio, and countless others, the gloomy-pop four piece known as Interpol have proven themselves to be one of the more successful out of a pack of bands who grew notorious for combining post-punk adventurism with new-wave hooks and style in the post-Millennial indie rock world. Almost as famous for their all-black tailored suits as they are for their tightly-knit, modern version of a sound that runs the gamut of melancholy British pop groups like the Smiths, Chameleons UK, Joy Division, Kitchens of Distinction, and Echo and the Bunneymen, Interpol have proven over the course of numerous singles and two full length albums that style and substance can coexist on an equal level.

Interpol--Paul Banks on vocals and guitar, guitarist Daniel Kessler, bassist Carlos Dengler and drummer Sam Forgarino--formed in 1998 at New York University, when Kessler and then drummer Greg Drudy met fellow-student Dengler; a somewhat disgruntled guitarist that had given up on music for the time being. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Dengler said, "I wasn't playing music when Daniel came up to me. I was studying philosophy, and I wanted to pursue a career as an academic. Daniel convinced me to play with him, which I consider a landmark achievement, because nothing else could have been farther from what I wanted to do."

Nonetheless, Kessler, Dengler (on bass), and Drudy began rehearsing a handful of songs as a three piece, including the future Interpol single "PDA," until Kessler became reacquainted with Banks at NYU. The two had formally known each other while both were involved in a summer program in Paris a year earlier. Kessler recounted Banks' inaugural practice with the band in an interview with Rolling Stone saying, "Paul started singing, and Carlos and I looked at each other, eyebrows raised. It really was a moment I won't forget."

Banks, who lived in four countries as a child, including England (where he was born) and Mexico, seemed to be the first step in honing in on a sound that would center around his stiff, specific and often detached baritone voice. Often compared to that of Joy Divisions' Ian Curtis, Banks' vocal delivery has been called "downcast" and full of "dramatic flair" by Pitchfork Media. Concerning the comparison to Curtis, Banks said in an interview with Rolling Stone, "I don't give a f**k what people think."

But, the addition of Banks and his charismatic voice was only part of completing the puzzle that would eventually reveal Interpol as a cemented entity on all of their releases. After two years of consistent gigging around New York City, and a short hiatus to regroup, Interpol released Drudy of his duties behind the drums in favor of Forgarino in 2000. The addition of Forgarino to the fold did more to define the bands' sound, as Dengler and Interpol's new drummer added a rhythmic undercurrent that seemed to flesh out Banks' robotic observations and Kessler's choppy guitar lines. In an interview with Filter Magazine, Forgarino said, "I'm pretty spastic and they let me get away with a lot. I don't know what drummer would not be satisfied in this band. Probably a really dumb one. The dynamic in the songwriting is the thing, and that's pretty understood. That's the band. It's only going to exist with the four of us."

For the band to truly exist, however, Interpol needed to issue some recorded material. After putting out a self-released single, 2001 saw the bands' first large-scale release, the Fukd I.D. #3 EP on the Scottish label Chemikal Underground Records, home to bands like Mogwai, the Delgados, and Arab Strap. According to Chemikal Underground's website, the Fukd I.D. collection was a series of 12" records and CDs limited to 1,000 copies with a similar packaging scheme. Interpol's version contained the songs "PDA," "Precipitate," "Roland," and "5."

Following this initial release, the process of sending out demo tapes to various labels would pay off for Interpol, as their next offering would be issued by Matador Records, home to acts like Guided by Voices, Cat Power and Pavement, and run by Gerard Cosloy and Chris Lombardi. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Forgarino said, "Word is Lombardi was listening [to the songs] while driving through the Alps in his BMW, going really, really fast. And he went, 'Yeah, this will work.'"

Issued in 2002, the single for Matador again featured "PDA" along with two new songs, "NYC" and "The Specialist." Of the single, All Music Guide declared that "Each of the songs here emit various shades of gray, built on durable arrangements, a veteran band's sense of economy and dynamics, and a streak of gloom that never quite reaches overbearing doom."

After issuing their first single for a large scale American indie label, it came time for Interpol to deliver a full length that would live up to the buzz that was not only generating around the three songs heard on the Matador release, but one that would satisfy the expectations of music fans now paying attention to any kind of music that was being pumped out of New York, thanks the growing success of the Strokes. Released that same year, in 2002, Turn on the Bright Lights quickly garnered critical acclaim from all over. Featuring versions of the previously released "PDA," "NYC," and "Roland," as well as newer songs like "Obstacle 1" and "Say Hello to the Angels," Dusted Magazine said, "One listen to a track like 'PDA,' with its snapping rhythm, dueling jangling guitars, and vocals that bear more than a passing resemblance to Ian Curtis will have you wondering if this is New York circa now or Manchester, U.K. twenty-five years ago. Not that it's a bad thing at all." Splendidzine.com said that "There's something quite compelling about Interpol's sound--the urgent, spartan guitar lines, hazy feedback sheen and ominous, funereal basslines suggest a world of grey, rainy autumn afternoons and bleak, snowy winter nights. We've all been there--Interpol are counting on it."

Years of touring followed Interpol's successful ascent, and another release, The Black EP, came out in 2003, sporting a demo version of "NYC," as well as "PDA," "Specialist" and "Say Hello to the Angels," amongst others. Time came, however, for Interpol to step off the tour bus and back into the studio to prepare another record. The result was Antics, released in 2004. The Beats Surrender website said, "Anyone expecting Bright Lights part deux will be in for a surprise. From the opening, uplifting organ wash on 'Next Exit,' the listener is put on notice that this is a different album. 'We ain't going to the town/we're going to the city' Paul Banks declares, informing us that we will be taking a slightly different path than expected. This is practically a party record. The songs carry a more focused energy, rarely embarking to the dark alleyways and unlit corridors that constituted a considerable portion of the last album." Pitchfork Media said, "Though Interpol couldn't be expected to surpass their previous heights, it's difficult to imagine a savvier or more satisfying second step."

by Ryan Allen

Interpol's Career

Group formed at New York University, 1998; first official release, Fukd I.D. #3 EP, issued on Chemikal Underground, 2001; released Turn on the Bright Lights on Matador Records, 2002; released Antics on Matador, 2004.

Famous Works

Further Reading



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