As music enthusiasts, we love nothing more than getting our hands on some new vinyl. In fact, for many it’s a bona fide obsession. While a record spins peacefully; stylus gliding over the grooves of the pressing seamlessly convert the vibrations into electromagnetic signals that through a series of transformations (without going full nerd) fill the room with sound – prized, treasured and loved in collections from tens to literally thousands.
For New York rock band Interpol, depending on what you’ve heard on the grapevine, their fifth and long awaited new album El Pintor (out September 5 on Matador/ PIAS) very well may have never happened. Four lonesome years have passed since the self-titled fourth LP was released in 2010 and in that time, the band has itself undergone a transformation with founding member and bassist, Carlos Dengler leaving to pursue personal interests. For some bands, such a loss would have secured their fate but for Interpol this is but a new chapter in the bands legacy.
From his Byron Bay hotel room ahead of Splendour In The Grass at the weekend, drummer Sam Fogarino spilled the beans on El Pintor. He explains the band’s early popularity “you always have your first effort, and thankfully we put out a record (Turn On The Bright Lights) that people still love. And sometimes that can be the bane of existence for early bands, they can’t get away from their early work, but I think, what we’ve done this time is…we’ve done it justice. I can’t say that we topped that, because that was it’s own separate thing, it’s own time and that record was built out of a naivety that made that record special – this is the experienced version of that” with word like that arousal levels for a listen have reached epic proportions.“Interpol is a band of three drastically separate opinions, on everything in life”
“Interpol is a band of three drastically separate opinions, on everything in life” he tells us. “Carlos hit a point where he was just unhappy and that’s fair enough man. You know, when you’re done touring the world and having your life uprooted – you’re done, and nobody can be blamed for changing their mind or changing their commitment because it’s not all out fun. Carlos was a very talented individual, he was a multi instrumentalist, he split, we didn’t want to finish – we posses those same talents so let’s put them into play and shut the fuck up and move forward.”
The loss of Dengler left the void of bass which has now been filled by lead vocalist Paul Banks. Banks “was very humble about the process, like he felt that he would be a placeholder until we could get someone that could really nail it” Fogarino continued. “The more we went on, the more we felt that like no…you nailed it already…you’re going to play these parts. Forget it man. And he really, he really didn’t take it with a grain of salt either, when he realised how much Daniel (Kessler, guitarist) and I liked it he worked that much harder.”
With a career now approaching two decades (formed in 1997) Fogarino eluded to the fact that “It’s easy to get caught up in the pressure, and if you kind of put your ear to the wall and listen to closely, you could just fall into the trap of wanting to appease the greater opinion of what an Interpol record should be.”The important factor for Interpol was that this record was bigger than them, their personal desires or creative motivations – this was about Interpol and what they emanate as a band.
After jamming together and writing a “bunch of songs” having not yet secured a record label or deal as well as no management it’s easy now to see where the ‘ record that may have never happened’ rumours were born from. Drawn back by the subtle intimacy of making music, the power of being compelled by something that without effort falls into place, and the realisation that they are apart of something bigger has broken the shackles of self-preservation and as Fogarino reflected “all of that but the songs flowed and they were there in front of us and it was pretty powerful to not feel precious about it and to have the songs say ‘no, you have to do this because this is pretty good”. Due to the lack of fight against the process, no resistance to the end goal, this album will be the most Interpol album yet.
It’s been a tumultuous road for Fogarino and his fellow rockers over the last few years and this album has formed somewhat of a musical therapy program. “Yeah!” He laughed, “Definitely musically theres some kind of catharsis that was played out in an odd way. If you think about it – what is the therapy for going through all the small choice shit? It’s like ‘well…why don’t you play some music?’ it works for people just listening to music and I kind of felt that and it was reaffirming.”
One thing is for certain; the three gentlemen still working together are not done with yet. “There’s this weird kind of sensation” Fogarino states before pausing and saying “you never re-envisage your past, nor should you want to, but in a certain respect you can bring the past into the future. My opinion is by the time we finished promoting Antics, recorded that second record, toured for a year and half, you know we hit a peak not necessarily creatively but in terms of what the band can do as a unit”. Strong words? Maybe so, but the words that followed “I think just having that grand old attitude of like ‘we don’t make a record and talk about the next one’, you know it’s kind of just like let’s just go on. I think there’ll be a couple more of Interpol records” we’re not only excited for El Pintor to drop in a months time, but for many more years to come.