Interpol: A Dive into the Dark Prince’s of NYC


(From left to right) Carlos D, Sam Fogarino, Paul Banks, Daniel Kessler.

yiop1990 and Interpol

John Ramirez, Staff Writer

Interpol is a Post-Punk/ Alternative band formed in 1997. The lead guitarist (Daniel Kessler) wanted to start a band with a fresh and different sound. It was at NYU where Kessler met drummer Greg Drudy. Drudy was a punk rock and hardcore drummer. Other acts he was in consisted of ‘Saetia’ and ‘Hot Cross.’ Later in 1998, Kessler met Carlos Dengler in a history class, the band’s soon-to-be bassist. He was returning to 1997 when Kessler was on a study abroad trip to France. Kessler met Paul Banks. He asked him if he wanted to join his band with his drummer. Banks declined in 1998 when the three men were creating the band’s early songs. Banks reconnected with Kessler. He was interested in joining the three pieces. Only if Daniel would step down from singing, that is.

The band has started rolling. They were creating an image and unique sound. They released a demo cassette. It had three songs. ‘PDA,’ ‘Roland,’ and ‘Get the Girls.’ PDA would become a hit on their first album in 2002. They played in small clubs and bars while gaining a good reputation and following. But, the times were moving fast, and it was now 2000. Drummer Greg Drudy left the act and was quickly replaced by Sam Fogarino, a hard-hitting drummer who seemed to fit the band more.

The band released another EP, ‘Fukd I.D. #3’, that same year. It contained the same three songs but with a new one, ‘Precipitate.’ 

It was now 2001. New York had just been attacked. There was a cloud over the city for the time to come—a big dark cloud. The band had been working on their debut album. They saw it as disrespectful to release the album now. So they waited a year to release. That year, the band started gaining more traction and even played a festival in France, ‘La Route du Rock.’ Frontman Paul Banks also went into a deep depression. In 2002 when their debut ‘Turn on the Bright Lights’ was released, it was notable for having a very moody and dark undertone. The album was successful. It peaked at 101 on the UK charts. People across the country and New York blasted the beautifully dark and romantic music. Though only 20 years old. It’s now considered a classic.

With their fan base growing and bigger shows being booked across the country. There were other bands making things happen too. Bands like The Strokes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Killers, The White Stripes, The Rapture, The Walkmen, and so many more. The band was getting so much attention. It all seemed uphill from there. The band had already started writing new songs for Antics’ next album. Released in 2004, It was leaked on the internet and did not make for great sales. Singer Robert Smith of The Cure contacted the band to join them at The Curiosa Festival. Selling out theaters and ballrooms in their hometown and more hits being heard. The band was getting a lot of criticism. The elegant bunch was getting compared to the band Joy Division. The post-punk poster boys. The predecessors. Comparisons between their style of dress wear they wore and Paul and Ian Curtis’ vocals. However, I don’t hear similarities in their voices. I think these critics were envious of the young studs being able to wear snazzy black get-ups and play great music every night. During a sold-out show in Manhattan at the Hammerstein Ballroom, David Bowie showed backstage to wish them well on a great show and even fanboyed a little. This gave the band a boost that night and gave them confidence regarding the critics.

Fast forward a little, and it seems all the band is doing is touring and moving for the next 2-3 years. This was tiring. They were all tired. The dapper lads had started getting dirty. Harder drugs began coming into the mix. So did arguments, but that’s expected when you’re with the same group of people every day for 2 years.

In 2007 They released their third album, ‘Our Love to Admire.’ This one did not do as well as Antics. Though, being a fan, it’s probably my favorite. During this period, the boys were going through a lot of tension with each other; Paul and Carlos never really got along. Arguments were constant. They’d end with everyone telling each other to “f*** off.” Soon they started going to group therapy. It seemed to be helping. Only for a limited amount of time, that is. The band had a therapy session while recording their 4th album (which was self-titled). There it’s said Carlos D got up and said he was done, then continued to walk away. The album was continued without him. They used his bass recordings and had a stand-in bassist for the last tour. In an interview with Spin Magazine, Carlos said, “I was experiencing so much pain being in the band, being in the music industry. I admit that I couldn’t help but feel that the band was constraining a creative impulse. It wasn’t for lack of trying to make it work; it was still three tortuous years trying to… Finally, I got sober and said, ‘Okay, enough of this f****** rockstar s***. Who am I?”

After the touring of ‘Interpol’ and the almost flop of the album, the band took a hiatus. Many thought this was the end. But, unfortunately, I think the band did too.

After those 4 Interpol-free years, the band announced a new album and tour. Fans were excited, but the critics were not. Their album ‘El Pintor’ was a great success. It was fresh, new, upbeat, and powerful. Though Carlos was not involved anymore, the darkness was gone. It was still Interpol. Their comeback was strong. In 2014 ‘El Pintor’ was released, and two more albums have also been dropped. They even did a Turn on the Bright Lights anniversary tour. They continue to headline festivals and sell out auditoriums. They’re more vital than ever. So is the fanbase. Their performance at Just Like Heaven Fest in 2022, where I saw them was electric. They closed the show, which was starting to slow with the previous bands. Playing banging hits. Both old and new. Even some deep cuts for the fans. The echoes of the 15,000 audience members roared over Paul Banks’ voice during ‘Obstacle 1’ and ‘All the Rage Back Home.’ How many bands come back that great after a tight end like that? Very very few. So put on your oxfords and a coat, stroll, and put on ‘Untitled.’