Fall Guide: Interpol Return With Their First Record in Three Years

But don't look for that persona-grooming bassist

A number of things have changed in Camp Interpol since we last heard from these local gloom-rock dudes: In May, the band posted a note on its website announcing that fashion-plate bassist Carlos D had split in order to “follow another path, and to pursue new goals.” And after a brief stint in the major-label world, Interpol are back with Matador Records, the New York mega-indie that released the group’s first two albums. Interpol, the tellingly titled follow-up to 2007’s Our Love to Admire, is out this week.

“We’re not starting over again, but it’s like we’re coming in from the left this time,” figures drummer Sam Fogarino. “We sort of cleared the slate, and now we’re a bit refreshed.”

Even so, a number of other things haven’t changed so much. “I do get the feeling,” frontman Paul Banks says, “that unless you really, really listen to our music, you probably have the wrong idea about what kind of person I am.” What do all those shallow listeners think? “That I’m depressive, jaded, cynical, bitter, and pretty angry a lot of the time.” Ah, yes—that. “I’m really not this brooding, sad guy,” Banks continues. “But whatever. If people have this totally one-dimensional view, that’s fine. It’d probably bother me more if I weren’t so confident in our music.”

The singer comes by that confidence honestly: On Interpol, he and his bandmates manage the seemingly unmanageable task of finding new wrinkles in a tightly defined sound, one that’s been theirs for nearly a decade. Tunes like “Lights” and “Always Malaise (The Man I Am)”—um, Paul?—offer up minor-key melodies and mosquito-buzz guitars but take all kinds of weird structural detours that feel more downtown art song than Williamsburg indie rock. Banks says his goal was to give his vocals an immediacy that would allow listeners to navigate the “beautiful, mysterious” music Carlos and guitarist Daniel Kessler demoed and brought to him and Fogarino in early 2009.

(Carlos took part in recording the new album before leaving the band.) Says Fogarino: “This record is a slow burn—it gives back the more you listen to it.”

Our Love to Admire slipped by a lot of people,” says Matador founder Chris Lombardi. “But now there seems to be a genuine curiosity about what the band is up to. I think people care about Interpol again.”

In order to capitalize on that interest, the band is spending much of this fall on tour, including a November 5 headlining date at the United Palace Theatre and several European gigs opening for U2. Along for the ride in Carlos’s place are Brandon Curtis of Secret Machines (on keyboards) and bassist David Pajo, who, in addition to co-founding the semi-legendary post-rock outfit Slint, has played with Tortoise, Zwan, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, among other bands. “He was the only person we discussed,” says Banks of Pajo. “I listened to [Slint’s] Spiderland up the waz in high school.”

As for not having Carlos around, Fogarino admits that it’s been “kind of a relief not to have to deal” with what the drummer calls his former bandmate’s “self-cultivation as a persona.” (“I don’t want that to sound bitter,” he adds.) For his part, Pajo says his experience on the road so far has been “nothing but positive.” He’s especially impressed by the way his new pals have outlasted the cool-kid fervor that climaxed with their jump to the majors. “They sort of survived that hype bump, and that, to me, is where a band is set up for longevity,” he says. “They seem really liberated.”

Interpol, November 5, the United Palace Theatre, 4140 Broadway, ticketmaster.com

Fall Music Picks

The Damned Things
September 9
Bowery Ballroom

You may have heard that Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump is spending the emo band’s hiatus working on a soul-influenced solo album. And perhaps you’ve read about Black Cards, Pete Wentz’s new reggae-inspired outfit. Slightly lower-profile, though, is the other two Fall Out Boys’ side project, the Damned Things, in which guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley are joined by two dudes from Anthrax and two dudes from Every Time I Die. The tunes they’ve released online sound like late-’80s hair metal pumped up with late-’00s arena beats; an album is reportedly due before the end of the year.

Jay-Z + Eminem
September 13–14
Yankee Stadium

The two biggest rappers on earth are joining forces this fall for four concerts—a pair in Eminem’s hometown of Detroit and a pair here in New York. Though his dominion over his local subjects is not to be underestimated, Jay is advised to bring his A-game to the House Across the Street From the House That Ruth Built: Since its release in June, Em’s Recovery has been racking up the kind of superstar sales that just don’t happen anymore.

September 19
Williamsburg Waterfront

September 21
Central Park SummerStage

September 22–24
Rumsey Playfield

Is it just me, or does Pavement’s reunion feel like it’s been going on for ages? More than six months after they first got back in the saddle, the slacker kings of old-school indie rock are finally making their way to New York—and now that they’re here, they’re making sure fans get every opportunity to see what lovable rapscallions they remain. If you can’t decide which of these five gigs to catch, aim for the Williamsburg Waterfront, as Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis’s new band, Jenny and Johnny, is scheduled to open.

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