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Don't miss a special live session with Interpol, recorded in front of a live audience at Apogee's Berkeley Street Studios on the eve of their highly anticipated album release exclusively for KCRW. We’ll share it on Morning Becomes Eclectic at 11:15am.
JB: It must be an exciting time for you with the album coming out tomorrow, how's it going for you?
Interpol: Well, we have these gentleman right here: Brandon Curtis, Dave Pajo, bass and keys. And as Paul usually says, BVs (backing vocals) They are making it very exciting for us, especially on the eve of album number four.
JB: How has it changed working with these two guys who are legitimate rock stars in their own rights - Pajo is from Slint and the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs and Brandon is from Secret Machines; whose brother from School of Seven Bells we had on air last week. How has it changed the dynamic for you?
Interpol: I don't know - it's a whole new thing. It's a lot of fun on stage; the audience seems to be having a lot of fun with us. We all get along and it's kind of an honor to have these two dudes on stage with us - it's a nice, happy family. So, it's good.
JB: For those of who don't know, they are replacing Carlos D. who departed amicably from the band. Was that sudden or was it something that, he just wanted to do other things?
Interpol: Yeah, he just wanted to do other things, I think. It wasn't so sudden. In a band like ours, we're all really open with each other. It's a bit like being in a relationship - there's always signs. It’s really exactly kind of like that. I don't think we were shocked. Obviously, disappointed -- he's a great guy.
JB: Now, he recorded and wrote this record with you. So, his finger prints are all over it.
Interpol: All over it
JB: So, guys, does that kind-of put the pressure on you to pick up the slack and do you try and play like him?
Interpol: I try to play his parts the way I hear them. I think that's about it…
Interpol: Yeah, yeah. Exactly.
JB: Here we are on the cusp of this whole album campaign. What do you have in store? I know you're going on the road with U2 in the fall. Does that begin in the fall? Or, how soon is that?
Interpol: That's in ten days, or something like that; nine dates or something.
Interpol: Little Irish band. Stick around, you'll find out about them.
JB: It's terrific that you're taking the time to do these kinds of things around the album. It feels like you're taking a back-to-basics approach on this record, at least being in touch with the street more so. Part of that is also being on Matador, your original label.
Interpol: It just all feels really right. I do think they are a great home for us right now. I think we're kind of - we have a lot of loyalty and love for our fans. I think it suits us to come and play for people and be face-to-face.
JB: Let's talk about the record a little bit - where did you really write and record this album?
Interpol: We wrote and recorded in New York. We wrote it in the first half of 2009. Then, we recorded it at Electric Lady Studios where we did half of “Our Love to Admire. “ We mixed it London, with Alan Moulder.
JB: I always love this question about the environment that you're working in. Is it safe to say that New York is an inspiration to you when you write and record?
Interpol: It was always very hard to answer that question. Then I think when taking time out of New York City and then coming back to it you realize that it's just such a hyper-stimulating place and I think it just revs you up - not always in a good way. But I think that our music does reflect in a way, that kind of like, a lot of stimulation. There’s a lot of grit in New York City too. It's definitely like a pace - a pace thing that is cranked.
Interpol continues: Don't you feel that after having spent so much time there, that you have it deep within you? We could have written this record in Tahiti - it all becomes a state of mind, you know. New York leaves such an imprint - that you just can't - you can leave for years and it just doesn't go away. There's always a lot to draw upon, from that imprint. Black imprint. (laughter)
JB: I spent a little time with the record; it feels like a very confident album. I wonder if the sessions felt that way as you came together? Did it feel like you were very assertive in putting it down?
Interpol: I think whenever we go into the studio, we know what we’re trying to do. We always have - we're not like the kind of band that sorts of starts experimenting too much in the studio. We kind of go there - we've already written everything, we’ve already kind of explored all these other avenues where we can take the songs. We use the studio very much to accomplish what we've decided upon, so, when we went into the studio, we knew exactly what we wanted to leave with.
JB: Has that always been the case with this band?
Interpol: Pretty much, since day one. Since the very first record. I think because we spent so much time - in New York -- before we actually signed a record label deal that kind of, sort of formed that process. We spent four years in New York just playing shows and writing songs. That gave us time.
JB: Did you find that just came naturally as a group because it seems like you've had such a strong aesthetic, overall, the music and the imaging. Everything has been just really well done, but confident and well thought out. Actually, I was just talking to Lombardi who's here in the back, somewhere…
Interpol: Oh Chris, watch out for that guy.
JB: He was telling me that from the very first meetings with you guys - that's Lombardi from Matador, by the way, for everyone else.
Interpol: Come one - he puts out our records. (crowd claps) And like, millions of other great records, for the past 21 years. Cheers.
JB: Cheers, man. He told me some other stories, by the way, which we may touch on. He said from the very first meeting, he was taken aback because you guys had such a well thought out vision, game plan, everything, you just had it together. Did that just come naturally when you got together? You had this vision?
Interpol: I think aesthetically, it's just a product of four strong-minded individuals. That's our sound and that's why it was such a firm thing. We're all sort of nudging our own way into the music. It's just a good combination of individuals. As far as a game plan, Daniel has a lot of insight into just sort of - he's a good strategizer. I think that paid off for us as well.
I think also having all those years - four years without putting out a record gives you a lot of time to think about what you'll do when you get to put out a record.
JB: Well, You've done well. You've done well. Paul, I wanted to ask you about Julian Plenti and the album. When did you write that and where does that begin and Interpol end for you? Were you just writing things on your own on the side?
Interpol: Yeah exactly, it was just something to explore and something I'd had in mind to do for a decade. It was just a need, a personal need. The Interpol process is a whole other kettle of fish, and it’s this beautiful collaboration. And Julian Plenti is sort of the control freak getting to have the whole sandbox to himself. And it was good for me to do it.
JB: How do you balance, in your creative process, atmosphere and structure? Depending on the song, for example the last album's "Pioneer to the Falls" is so epic and drawn out, and you even did an orchestral version which came out as part of a bonus disc, but that to me is more mood and atmosphere, whereas on the new album it seems more dialed in and songs like "Barricade" are tight, are very structured. How do you balance those two things?
Interpol: I think if you write one song like "Pioneer to the Falls" there's a good chance the next song will be entirely different. Almost like a reaction, something less orchestrated, but more minimal in terms of structure. Its like all of a sudden you start writing a song and you realize it’s a bit more of an elaborate piece and an orchestrated piece, and it starts happening very organically, without much of a game plan, that's just what the song is asking for. But then after that you don’t want to keep doing a new record entirely like that song, you'll probably do something that's a bit more of a reaction to it, more succinct maybe, with less orchestrations and so forth, maybe a different tempo and everything.
JB: So, a back and forth.
Interpol: I think it’s a very visceral thing. You know…you don't want to keep doing the same thing, and you already did that, so you want to do something a bit different right after.
JB: OK, Final question is Chris Lombardi told me a story about a show in Mexico
Interpol: You gotta stop talking to that guy, I'm telling you, he's bad for you!
JB: and he described it as a "pogo earthquake". Do you remember this show, and can you describe what happened?
Interpol: It was at a big, big rectangular venue with that had a wooden floor, a 4th floor convention hall at the world trade center of Mexico City. I don't know how many songs into the set we were, but around halfway through the set I guess they all started jumping in a rhythm, and the floor was responding like when you see a suspension bridge freaking out in an earthquake -- that was happening with the floor, and heads were going up and down, it seemed almost like 5 feet. I don't know if Chris can vouch for that, but it was crazy and unsafe and the show got called -- we had to cancel it. I don't think people were afraid, I think they were really enjoying themselves, but from the stage it looked scary. (They didn't know they were going to die). And people were actually holding on to the sound board because it was moving around. so much so it wouldn't move into the audience.
Our tour manager after that show, who was already a pale gentleman from Glasgow Scotland, turned even whiter, and he's like "hey mates, second show is canceled". And we said "Yeah Stevie, you're funny."
And it was for real, the floor almost buckled.
JB: Well, you guys have been challenged tonight, for the second set. Thank you again for doing this and spending some time, and we truly appreciate you playing for KCRW, let's enjoy our second set tonight, Interpol LIVE!