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And Then There Were Three

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When Kessler formed Interpol in 1997, while a student at NYU’s Gallatin School, he envisioned more a creative collective than a conventional band. “It wasn’t about how well someone could play; it was about sensibilities that would inform their approach to music,” says Kessler, who was born in London and moved to Washington, D.C., as a teenager. “Growing up in England in the early eighties, you wear your colors, you know? Skinheads are like this, punks are like that, rude boys are like this. That really influenced me, the idea that music is what separates you from the other guy on the bus going to school. It’s your savior.” Such loftiness didn’t extend to fellow NYU student Banks, at least when he first started writing songs in high school. “It came out of seeing a really beautiful girl and feeling unbelievable longing and sadness about her lack of awareness of my existence,” he says. “If I got everything I wanted from girls, I wouldn’t write shit.” (His situation has improved: Model Helena Christensen is among his exes.)

Kessler’s utopian vision of collaboration worked a lot of the time, but could also degenerate into four seething egos in a dark East Village rehearsal space. “There was a lot of tension, especially in the age of Carlos,” says Banks. “He’s a complicated, inflexible guy. And Daniel is mild-mannered but controlling, though not in a bad way. He’s got a game plan, he’s got goals, but he’s tight-lipped about them. And then I’m more sloppy and loose, which is repulsive to anyone who is more rigid.”

The members of Interpol put in five years of hard labor before getting signed—tedious day jobs followed by hustling for gigs, pasting up flyers, and mailing demos to “every single record label you can think of,” says Kessler. “Matador said no twice before they said yes. But even when nobody cared, we liked it and thought we were doing something good. You can have all this crazy shit happen,” he adds of success, “but that stuff—a guy counting how many people you bring in at the door—stays in you.”

The next challenge, of course, will be after the band’s worldwide tour—a year or so from now—when they are back in the studio for the first time without Carlos. “That will be curious,” says Fogarino. He takes a long drag off his American Spirit. “Sometimes it feels like journalists want me to say I’m scared because the band’s changed. But the thing is, I’m not.”

Interpol
Matador
Sept. 7
$14.98


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