Chatting with Interpol guitarist Daniel Kessler
Wed, Oct 20, 2010 (4:12 p.m.)
You guys have played Vegas quite a bit over the years. Do you like coming here?
I do like playing Vegas. You kind of always remember all the shows you've played in Vegas, for sure. We've gone to the old part of Vegas, which I really enjoyed exploring. I'm not much of a gambler, so I'm not trying to seek my fortune out there or trying to make a night to remember.
We just had Matador Records' anniversary festival here. You guys had conflicting shows, right?
That's what it was. We really wanted to play, and it kind of really hurt us that we couldn't. But we had already had these European dates confirmed when they set the date. I had so many friends texting me about how amazing it was and how intimate, and this band playing together for the first time in X amount of years — doing a great job of rubbing it all in.
What brought the band back to Matador for its latest album?
Well, first and foremost, we were always great admirers of that label from afar in the '90s when we were starting out. It was always our No. 1 hope to put out a record on Matador. They turned us down three times before they finally said yes.They have an incredible history, like so many great bands. Then when you get to know them, when you have the privilege of working with them, it's a unique group of people. They're like a family ... and we always had a great relationship with them. Even after we left, we always retained our friendship, so it was an easy choice to want to work with them again.
After Carlos left the band, how did you go about finding touring musicians to replace him, and did you consider how fans might react to those choices?
Carlos is a great performer and a great musician, but we've always been a band first and foremost. When Carlos decided to leave the group, it was a very amicable moment, and one that we understood — he just needed to go do his own thing and not be in a rock band for a while. We were about to start mixing the record, so I think we just kind of put all of our focus into finishing the record, making sure it came to life the way that we had imagined it. And then we started plotting a little bit. And David Pajo was suggested, and it's rare that we all kind of strike an admiration for one band or one person, but that was one person where we all love his work. The records he played with Tortoise were some of my favorite records in the'90s, and I bought Papa M records and Ariel M records when he first came out, so I was a great admirer of his. He was very enthusiastic, and he's just an amazing musician — we had a great energy from the first moment playing together. We're also playing with Brandon Curtis from The Secret Machines, another extraordinary musician and great singer. So it just feels like a really strong entity. We just kind of looked at the people who we could play with, that were interested in playing with us, and then we started seeing if we had great chemistry. And we did, and it's starting to become a really strong band. We've done about two months of shows, and you know, the fans have really responded. They've been really enthusiastic, and I think that's because we're playing really well together.
The reviews for your new [self-titled] album have been somewhat mixed. Some say it's classic Interpol, others call it a departure. What are your thoughts?
I never read reviews so I don't know what reviews are like. To me, it's an evolution forward. I think you'll recognize elements of Interpol&8212;obviously Paul's voice and my guitar, and Carlos' bass work and Sam's drumming — but I think we're a band that's always going to try to move forward and find new ways of songwriting and recording. I think it's a bit of a deeper record. I think we have just tried to find new ways of expanding on our sounds, like not always just relying on guitars and bass; we have a lot more orchestrations and keyboards and things like that. But ultimately, I think it's our songwriting moving forward with a bit more experience and a more comfortable band in the studio. I think it's maybe our most cohesive record and linear record.
With all of that in mind, what were the inspirations and motivations for the new album?
First and foremost, it has to be about the band getting something out of it as individuals and as a collective, rather than kind of seeing what might work and what is good for a "rock band." We never operated in that circle. We never really worried what people thought we should do and so forth. It just doesn't make sense when you start doing that, when you start listening to voices out there. You really have to satisfy your own desires as an artist.