New York indie heroes Interpol have been on the road supporting their latest, self-titled album since last summer, and they show no signs of slowing down their worldwide tour. As they complete another Southern California tour leg (having just performed at the UC San Diego RIMAC Arena), the New University sat down with Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino to discuss the dynamics of their new band line-up, over-eager fans and tour fatigue.
New University: So it was just announced that Interpol will be playing at Coachella, are you excited about that?
Sam Fogarino: Yeah, it’s been a while since we played at that festival, which is probably the best U.S. festival, I think. It’s probably the closest you’ll get to a really good European festival, but yeah, Southern California in April? Not bad!
New U: How has the touring been?
Sam: Well we’ve been at it since last June…
New U: Are you guys tired at all?
Sam: Yeah, we just did a really hard leg in Australia, and it’s a whole different mode of touring there because all the cities are spread so far apart and you have to fly everywhere. It’s like going back and forth between New York and LA in three days. So yeah, [the tour] hits its apex, and then it has a little downward slope, you take two weeks off and then you do it again. At the end of the day, it’s what a band is supposed to do, in my opinion.
New U: Has the dynamic changed since Carlos D. [the band’s original bass player] left? Have you guys established any chemistry with your new band members?
Sam: Instantly. We came up with a very short list of people, and basically it never got past Brandon Curtis [of the Secret Machines on keyboards] and David Pajo [formerly of Slint, on bass], and I would say the chemistry was instantaneous, not only between us five together but between Brandon and David, it was important that they get along famously, and they did, and that helped and it made us feel good, and it was very “no-bullshit” with us, we got right down to it. It was just five guys playing who had been playing music collectively for many decades, which is the way it should be. Then we hit the road for several months and that just fueled the fire. I’m really excited for it; I haven’t grown tired of it or gotten jaded yet.
New U: So would you say things have changed for the better since the new lineup?
Sam: Yeah, because Carlos didn’t have his heart in live performance anymore. He fought hard before he left the band for us not to tour, which in my opinion is completely erroneous. A band plays live, that’s why we do it. I could easily make music in a vacuum, in my studio … I have no desire to do that. You can’t go backwards, you know, Interpol was built as a live band, and it needs to die that way, just as it was born.
New U: Where do you hope to see Interpol in the next 5 or 10 years?
Sam: It’s hard to say, we’re at such a transitional point, and by “we” I mean the whole fucking music industry, I’m feeling that pop music in general is getting more and more trivialized on a daily basis, so in terms of the whole model of putting out records and touring, I have no idea. I have no idea if we’ll ever put out another physical release — I mean, yes, I want to, I think we will, but it’s not dictated by me. In five years from now if we’re still playing to the same audience, I’d still be happy. It’s been a long ride and to go out on the road and play in any given city around the world and to be playing in front of five to seven thousand people is a blessing. It’s not a bad way to pay the mortgage.
New U: I was at your show at the Greek Theatre in LA in October, and I remember quite vividly that a few people in the pit rushed the stage and tried to grab the microphone from Daniel [Kessler, guitarist] and Paul [Banks, lead singer]; do you guys normally have fan encounters like this?
Sam: It happens on the West Coast and in Mexico, it’s never happened anywhere else. We actually have quite the following in Southern California; between Southern California and Mexico City, we could probably make a living off of those areas alone, it’s kind of phenomenal … but yeah, that was kind of a bizarre night, with all that stuff happening. Our tour manager and our road crew were really, really freaked out because you just never know what could happen. Paul himself understands the whole adulation thing … on one hand, he was kind of startled and taken by surprise, but, on the other hand, he understands that people just want to be close to him. I think he was, no pun intended, touched by it. But yeah, it’s not suggested! I wouldn’t suggest [jumping on stage] because very big men will jump on you!
Luckily, there were no such shenanigans to be seen on stage at UCSD on Feb. 2. For the complete interview and a full review of their concert, check online at www.newuniversity.org!