The band proves to be as intriguing to their fans as New York City to its natives and visitors. With their inception in 1998 and solidification in 2000 - the band spent those first two delicate years refining their sound, reflecting on their vision and crafting songs many would later clamor over. Singer/guitarist Paul Banks, Bassist Carlos D., Drummer Sam Fogarino, and Guitarist Daniel Kessler are the quintet that make up New York's dark princes. Fusing the Smiths' swirl and swell of guitars with Ian Curtis-like vocals; bass lines infectious like the Cure's and stylish insinuations like that of Wire and Slowdive, Psychedelic Furs and Bauhaus - it is not difficult to become infected with Interpol's sonic prowess.
Though they started off by playing for New York's underground scene in venues like the now defunct Brownies and Mercury Lounge, in actuality the band strongly cultivated their fan-base in Europe supporting their self-released Precipitate EP and the Chemikal Underground label's FukdID #3 EP in 2001. Picked up by the indie stronghold Matador label, Interpol released their debut full-length album, Turn On The Bright Lights, in 2002. Recorded with Peter Katis (Clem Snide; Mercury Rev) and mixed by Gareth Jones (Depeche Mode, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Clinic) at Connecticut's Tarquin Studios, the band spent long sixteen-hour days working on the record. As a result of the designated time they had in the studio, the band was left with unsatisfactory mixes. Instead of opting for another studio to get the job done and the record over with - they chose to be patient and waited three months for Katis to finish up with Get Up Kids to rework the tracks. Once that was done, the band was confident in their decision to wait and the content of their final product.
The foursome admits that they were looking to have the album sounds as they do live. A testament to the old adage of what you see is what you get, "Turn on the Bright Lights" contains tracks of uncensored feelings. Some of sad-but-true declarations of love, most attractive and equally painful in "The New." ("I wish I could live free/I hope it's not beyond me/Settling down it takes time/One day we'll live together/And life will be better... I can't pretend/I need to defend/Some part of me from you.") Those who have been through a break-up or two can't deny that they can relate to this melancholic song. Though I've never seen it stated nor published, it is speculated that their "NYC" track is a tribute to the events of 9/11/01. The timing of the song's popularity will always make one recall that day's aftermath with the repetition of the lines "New York cares/Got to be some more change in my life... Turn on the bright lights." That last line reminding one of the powerful lighting used during the nights to aid in rescue efforts, and the guitar's slow noise sounding like the white-noise construction sound of lower Manhattan's rebuilding of the World Trade Center area. Where other songs contain seemingly exclusive content that is abstract at best, there are songs like "PDA" a song of true understanding of one's bitter separation from a lover. ("Yours is the only version of my desertion that I could ever subscribe to/That is all that I can do... And you will not reach me I am resenting a position that's past resentment and now I can't consider, and now there is this distance, so...").
A double-edged sword to Interpol followers is the delight of their constant touring throughout 2003 and 2004, and the disappointment of this roaming leaving them little-to-no time to put down or refine new material. To keep their hungry fans at bay - a slew of maxi-singles and remixes have been put out. This finds many complaining that there should be more new material to be consumed, yet running to the record store to purchase these releases all the while.
The year 2003 had Interpol on the top lists of critics (2002 was no exception either). Despite no release of a full-length album in that year they gained notoriety from MTV.com naming the video for "Obstacle 1" as one of the years best to Launch.com identifying an in-studio version of "PDA" as their performance of the year.
One of the things that makes Interpol so alluring to their fans is their song's open and honest, well-stated nature. Don't expect this from the individual's on-stage presence however. Instead await a slyly confident, and almost snobbish nature from Interpol's stance. They've quickly become media darlings for their music as well as their fashionable suits and their dashingly attractive, photogenic disposition. Though many bands of today omit quick-to-be-catchy entertaining tunes (ceaselessly recycling each other's song structure to the point of confusion) - Interpol's songs would are more sophisticated and interesting for those who have a steady diet of songs with simplistic structure.
Interpol has many places to explore, adding yet another parallel to their stately home city, from stately and classy, sexy and soiled, to frightening and frantic. Like Manhattan, you're always looking forward to seeing them, excited to see a side you haven't seen before, and awaiting something new to reveal itself.