pplying for an absentee ballot, advocating monogamy, fetishizing V-neck sweaters: one could be forgiven for failing to associate these attributes with a band acclaimed for their second album and collective way with a suit and tie. Reams have been written about Interpol’s Antics since its September 28th release. Unfortunately, much of this text is littered with nauseatingly hackneyed sayings like “difficult second album” and “sophomore effort.” The reviews typically tell us less than nothing. What you need to know is this: Antics is a very good record. It’s more dynamic than 2002’s Turn on the Bright Lights, which — aside from being a darkly beautiful collection — was the most fun you could have listening to music that was aggressively not-fun by design. Antics is still moody, still cold, but more musical, and it’s less likely to make you want to throw yourself onto subway tracks. On tracks like "Narc" and "Length of Love," the band even flirt with the idea of getting funky, albeit in an icy, Germanic fashion.There, I didn’t mention Joy Division once. What? I just did? Damn. Incidentally, did you know that being in a popular group is just like being a girl? Lead singer Paul Banks explains. — Grant Stoddard
Where are you?
Let me think. Detroit. Detroit Rock City?
Yep. How is the tour, four days in?
Oh my God, is it really that little? Maybe. Boston, Toronto, Montreal … yeah, the fourth day. [Audibly bummed] Wow, I felt sure that we were further in than that. Where are you going to be on November 2nd?
November 2nd? Yeah, where are you registered to vote?
Um. Shit, yeah my form is going to my apartment in New York and — wow, thanks for reminding me — I applied for an absentee ballot and I haven’t gotten it yet. I’m just checking, y’know. Puffy’s saying "Vote or Die," so you’ve been warned.
I know, it’s my civic duty. People can’t seem to mention Antics without using words like “upbeat” and phrases “sounds less creepy than the last album.” But it’s hardly a laugh riot, is it?
I don’t know that it is more upbeat. Lyrically it is definitely no more upbeat. It’s just the difference in the delivery. The delivery is more dynamic. There’s more of a range melodically and I think I’ve learned to sing quite a bit over the course of the last sixteen months touring for Bright Lights, so I think I had a little more to use. Plus, I tried to make things sound a little more melodic. On the first album I was working with monotone and shouting in some instances. In the early days that’s how I wanted to communicate what I was saying. I have different things that I want to communicate now, so I use the vocals more to do that. Will the success of the band shift the way you write and perform? I mean, you must have fewer reasons to bellyache, right?
I don’t think the success of the band had any impact on the writing of Bright Lights or Antics, and I don’t imagine that it will in the future either. How can you distance yourself from it all?
The things that influence and inspire me to write lyrics don’t change. I never write about my own actual experiences anyway. I didn’t at the beginning, and I don’t now. If there’s going to be any change in that respect, it’s going to come out of two years of living more per each record. But the rock star lifestyle — that must make you want to perk up a bit, no?
I don’t worry about keeping things in the same vein. I don’t want to express myself in the same way each time. I’ve already dabbled in more traditional lyrics on this album. I mean, I use straight up clichés on Antics indulgently, which for me felt very refreshing and very new. Okay, who makes your suits?
I don’t have a suit at the moment, actually. Shut the fuck up!
No really, I don’t. But I’m the sloppy guy in the band anyway. Not so clean cut. I would like a suit, but I haven’t had the chance to get one made in a while. It’s never really been that much of a priority for me. But you guys always look so sharp.
I mean, I’ve always liked V-neck sweaters more than blazers. Believe you me, I would love a suit, but I’m very, very particular in what I’d want. What do you look for in a suit?
The cut, the material. You really have to be pretty wealthy to get an amazing suit made. As particular as I am, I think I’d have to be spending upwards of five or six thousand dollars to get a suit made exactly the way that I’d want it. I’m neither willing or able to spend that amount of money. Not yet, anyway.
We’ll see. I still just go to thrift stores. With the suits and the sweaters, don’t you find yourself getting terribly sweaty once they turn on the bright lights?
None of us are really fashion victims in that sense. We won’t play uncomfortable, especially not myself and definitely not Sam [Fogarino, the drummer]. I’m a sweaty guy, and especially when I sing. So I usually play in just a shirt and tie, which is totally comfortable for me. Did you notice a correlation between the success of the band and improvements in your respective sex lives?
You’re talking about groupies? Sure.
If, by groupie, you mean someone who follows the band around and hangs out at all the gigs, then I don’t really have any of those. Being in a band that does well is almost like being a girl. Sorry, you’ve lost me.
Were you to be looking for action, you could get it, you know what I mean? Go on.
I have a girlfriend, and I’ve had a girlfriend throughout this entire thing, so in essence my love life hasn’t changed a bit. The rest of the guys in the band are all in relationships too. But you know there’s an awareness, like, I probably could pick up some girl right now if I wanted to. It’s a funny way to look at it, because it’s like, if your girlfriend’s coming down on you about the female fans, it’s like Fuckin’ A, you’re a beautiful woman, you could have had sex at any time, on any day, with almost anyone since you reached adolescence. But almost all guys have to really work for it. I guess that being in a band means that you don’t have to as much. Have you figured out exactly how many records an artist has to sell before girls will start doing fucked-up things to get backstage?
Um, I think that we already passed that marker. Well, how many records was it?
I dunno. But another funny thing is, there are a lot of bands that are talked about a whole lot less that sell a shitload more records. You can sell a lot fewer records, but just have the right people talking about you, and it gives this impression of you being a lot bigger. There might be a band in Northern California that has sold, like, 600,000 copies. There’s this band called . . . see, I don’t even remember their name . . . OAR, maybe, and they have a gold or platinum record, but, no one knows who they are. Yeah, who’s sucking off their bus driver?
Right. What’s the ideal “Length of Love?”
I hear it’s the girth that counts. But “Girth of Love” didn’t have the same ring to it. Do different members of the band prefer different body or personality types?
What are you getting at? I heard that Carlos [D., recently acronymed Interpol bassist] likes a certain type of girl — rotund and goth.
Well, that’s true. But his girlfriend certainly does not fit that mold, and she’s extremely pretty. He always defies expectation. If you had to date another member of the band, who would it be?
[Long pause] Probably Sam. For his experience. But you know, I’d have to be gay for that to work, and more importantly these are my bandmates. I’m not sure that I’d want to mix business with . . . pleasure. n°
© 2004 Nerve.com.