Interview with Interpol: Rebuilding Infastructure

InterpolA few years ago New York’s Interpol was playing small venues and getting criticized for sounding like a cheap knockoff of Joy Division. Now they are headlining Madison Square Garden in support of their third album, Our Love To Admire, that was recently released on major label Capitol Records and they don’t really sound like Joy Division at all. Guitarist Daniel Kessler discusses the new record, the MSG show and how far his band has come.

Was there a set moment when you guys decided to start writing your record?

There was. Touring and writing are two different things sometimes and sometimes it’s good to separate them. I think they need each other because touring and traveling bring you new experiences and provide you with things to write about and allow you to challenge yourself. Ultimately I think writing is better done on a steady ground in a place that’s comfortable to you so you’re not worn down by all your travels and jet lag and stuff.

When you started writing the new album did you have a vision for how you wanted it to turn out?

No. We never really talk about that. In the history of our band we’ve never really talked about what we are doing. It just doesn’t really work out that well. We just kind of start playing in a room and looking for interesting possibilities. We never really mapped out what we wanted to do. I couldn’t have predicted that this record would turn out the way it did at all. That’s what makes the whole thing fun for all of us, I think. When something starts one way and you see something go from one place to another when it just takes this journey you could never have predicted you realize why you’re a band in the first place.

Did anything come out of you that really surprised you while writing the record?

I don’t know about really surprised me, but I think the fact that we’re a band using keyboards now and everyone was on the same page in terms of the possibilities kinda of surprised me. That everyone wanted to evolve in the same way. That shouldn’t be surprising because we’re all about evolution, but ultimately you never know when that’s going to be. You never know when people are going to be like “I like it and that’s enough.” It wasn’t like “We need more guitars” or “We need more of this here,” people were just like “No I like it and that’s enough.”

How conscious were you guys of the fact that you were on a major label now?

Not at all. We were well on our way writing before even talking to major labels, let alone signing to one. We would have made a change or stayed the same regardless. We didn’t let that infiltrate our world. We don’t operate like that. We don’t really care about that kind of stuff. We didn’t have ambitions like getting bigger when signing to a major label; we just felt like it was something we wanted to do from an infrastructure standpoint.

When you write songs do you consider how they will translate into a live setting?

Not really. Maybe earlier on but not this record. The way we operate anyway is that we don’t enter the studio until the songs are ready and we can really feel what they’re like. In a way we’re kind of already working off a live song in the first place. The only hard thing this time is working out where the keyboards will go and be played live. We take a very traditional method of writing and we don’t record until everything is really tight and we can really feel them. We should feel the songs by us playing it.

Have you ever written a part that you didn’t actually know how to play?

Sometimes. The songs start with me in a way so my parts don’t change all that much from the beginning. The only hard thing is that I write my parts in a classical method without a pick so when I have to take it to the band and plug it into an electric guitar with a pick it can be difficult.

What do you think your set list will look like for the MSG show?

Pretty varied. We’re all pretty conscious of all the records. We don’t want to be that kind of band. But I don’t know exactly what it will be yet. I’m sure we’ll do something special for that show because it’s one of a kind, but we usually don’t design our sets sometimes until a few minutes before we go onstage. That one I’m sure we’ll figure out earlier, but we’ll have to see what songs we haven’t played yet that we want to get up and running and songs that we really want to play.

Are there any songs you really don’t want to play anymore?

I think we are all very conscious of just not being that band and not doing that kind of thing. One of the pluses of having three records now is that you don’t have to lean on certain songs. There are some songs that have some wear and tear because you’ve playing them so much, but you can kind of put those down and let them rest. I’ll never swear something off because when you put those songs back on the set list it feels pretty good.

Are there any misconceptions about Interpol that you want to clear up?

I don’t know. I’m pretty good about not reading press and not following stuff like that. I just keep doing what I’m doing. I’m there are. I’m just going to say “Yes” but I don’t know what they are.

How do you hope people remember Interpol in 10 or 20 years?

If people can still listen to our records and can still feel something that’s a great accomplishment. I love records that have a timeless feel to them, that were beyond that moment. We’re not really too much into what’s out there or how our music will fit into the current climate so hopefully that will serve us well in that our records will age with grace.

Our Love To Admire is available now. For more visit

Photo Credit: Jelle Wagenaar