Diese Stimme, oh diese Stimme. Sofort kommen Erinnerungen wieder. An die Zeit vor vielen Jahren als ich die ersten Interviews meines Lebens geführt habe. An solche, die schlimm schiefgingen und mir die Bands – vielleicht etwas unfair – für immer vermieste (ich kann zum Beispiel nie wieder Slut hören, sorry), aber auch an welche, die richtig gut waren. Es ging damals los mit diesen Interviews, in denen man sich eher unterhält als fragt und für ein paar Minuten mit den Gedanken ganz nah beieinander ist. Das war zum Beispiel mit Paul Banks so. Das zweite Interpol-Album war gerade erschienen und wir saßen, ich glaube es war im Berliner SO36, bei einem Kaffee ganz ordentlich an einem Tisch. Das Mikro stand vor uns und mein Fragenzettel lag neben seinem sehr dicken Buch, das er später auch auf der Aftershowparty las, an der Bar, in all dem Trubel. Ich weiß den Titel nicht mehr, aber im Interview wurde klar, dass Paul Banks schon viele Bücher gelesen und sehr viel über alles darin und drumherum nachgedacht hatte. An einer Stelle hat er mich am Unterarm gepackt, ich weiß es noch, er wollte etwas unterstreichen damit und ich habe verstanden, was er meinte.
Interpol gibt es noch immer, vor drei Jahren hat Paul Banks dazu sein erstes Soloalbum veröffentlicht, unter dem Namen Julian Plenti, aber es wusste alle, das er es war. Julian Plenti ist jetzt weg, Paul ist er selbst und bringt sein zweites Album am 19. Oktober raus. Es heißt wie er, “Banks”, und vorab gibt es wie immer dieses eine Lied zum herunterladen und solange auf Dauerschleife hören. Diese Stimme. Diese Gitarre. Dieses Gerumpel zwischendrin. Es klingt nach Regen, den man sich vom Fenster aus anschaut. Draußen geht die Welt unter, kalte Luft zieht durch die Ritzen, aber im Prinzip ist es warm hier drinnen. Man könnte ewig so da stehen, schauen und ihm zuhören.
Ich habe gerade nach dem Skript gesucht und ja, es war im SO36, es war Dezember und es ist acht Jahre her. Damals habe ich für das Uniradio in Leipzig gearbeitet und auch für eine kleine Seite, die es heute nicht mehr gibt: poppiloten.de .
Weil er wirklich sehr schöne Dinge gesagt hat damals, packe ich es hier noch einmal in kompletter Länge rein.
Interview mit Paul Banks am 7. Dezember 2004 im SO 36/ Berlin.
You’re touring now for nearly two years with only short brakes. How does that influence a band, how far did you personally change?
Paul: I don’t really know how I’ve changed. I think to realize how you’ve changed you have to go back to a similar situation to the one that you’ve been in before we started touring and get a feeling of what that’s like now and then you could compare. But just beeing on the road it’s like I know how I’ve changed in relation being on the road which is learn to coop with it, I adapt the situations.
Basically before I was touring with the band I was a person that was supposed to be doing something else. When I was at college, after college I was very awared that this isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing, I’ll never be happy doing this. So since I’ve been doing this and performing and having music beeing my life, I feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing. But it’s hard, it’s strange to be on the road for this long. I don’t know really how I’ve changed but I was an unhappy person before I started touring. Now I’m better than I was at the beginning, but the whole thing’s very weird. And the one thing that I can always gage is the shows, and so that’s what I just refer to. It’s like the one constant thing where I can sense myself getting better.
What’s different now inside the band? You got to know each other very well…
Yeah, but we knew each other very well before we started touring as well cause we’re in a band for four years, at least before we even started touring. And touring is hard, but being in a band and struggling is also hard. So we knew difficult times, that’s a good way to get to know somebody through a) working on music together and b) trying really hard for four years. So now it’s like a brotherhood in a way. We watch out for each other the best we can and we fight a lot, it’s like beeing brothers…
Do you get somehow used to be on stage. Is there a danger to burn out in a way?
I don’t think there’s a danger to burn out. The funny thing about playing shows is you often start to get a bit sick on tour, the flying and lack of sleep and not having the normal comforts of regular life. But playing shows is a care in a way… if someone is starting to feel a little bit ill and then they play a show, it’s like the adrenalin, the sweating… I never ever cancelled a show and so that’s a long time to not get sick and I think playing shows is like a really revitalising thing. It’s like going to a sauna and also getting a shot of adrenalin. It’s pretty good, so I don’t feel like it burns me out, it restores me.
Your second album came out in September. When did you decide to do a second album? You’re touring all the time, when did you have the time to write new songs? It was another situation than for the first album, wasn’t it?
It was definetly a different situation. Because for the first album we wrote the songs in the course of three or four years and there were some songs on the first album that we’ve written right before. We went to the studio and there were songs that we’ve written in ´98. So it varried a lot. This album was different only in the sense that we gave ourselves kind of a deadline of when we wanted to work it out. But on the other hand we had 16 month of touring for the first album, there was a lot of time we didn’t write. So there was a lot of energy, a lot of ideas and a lot of enthusiasm when we did stop touring for bright lights and started working on this record. And so we didn’t have to force anything, songs really came out very easily. We wrote more quickly than we’ve ever had before. So it was different in the sense that we had less time but also we had a million of ideas before we started writing – it was very easy.
What does it mean for the sound of the songs? Are they different because of writing them quicker?
In some cases they are different for that reason, but in another way they’re better I think, because the time didn’t really factor in for the quality in any of our minds. We wouldn’t have put our the record if we didn’t think it was really good and finished.
Because we’ve been on the road playing the same songs from bright lightsfor so long… you get a new unterstanding of your own work, from playing it over and over again. So we had all this new knowledge about how to write songs and what we wanted from songs that we knew we would play for a long period of time. So I think playing “bright lights” so many times tought us a lot about songwriting.
I think even though there was a short manner of time, we were better songwriters right when we started writing the second record. Then in some cases for example Take you on a cruise – that song which people seem to like, that’s the first song ever in our history that I really wrote all the vocals for when we were in the studio. The way that we like to work is that we have everything finished before we go to the recording-studio and then just record it. In this case we got to the recording-studio, I changed everything that I had written beforehands for that song. So that song was written by me in a little separate studio in the recording-studio into a microphone onto a computer, like demoing. We wrote all the lyrics and we wrote all the melodies even after the music was complete. And I think that song sounds different than a lot of Interpol-music. That is a way, the situation of timing for instance, just the nature of the second record it is a factor in how it sounds. We are all really happy with that song, but that’s one case when it was written in a totally different way than normal for us. It’s also like a really studio-song, there’s a lot of studio-stuff on that track. We haven’t figured out how to play it live yet.
What were these things you learned by playing the old songs?
Everyone in their own way, we didn’t talk about what we learned. Sam and Carlos for instance: we were playing a song from the first album for so long that they almost had a boredom and decide to play kind of spontanious live-shows, we started doing little different things. Sam would change his beat, Carlos would work with whatever that change was and then they kind of learned to interact in a new way. And so we were sensually changing the songs in little little little ways. And so I think that influenced how they composed their parts together for Antics, I think the bass and drums are even more organically locked. I mean they were also in the beginning, like in Obstacle 1 – there’s a real bass-drum and bass-guitar-link. There’s lot of people, when they hear that song they think the drum-pattern is more complicated than it actually is, in reality it’s Carlos playing in the gaps. So I mean they were always doing that but went further with that sort of interaction while we were on the road playing bright ights-songs. Then they took that knowledge of things that they wanted to do as writers together when we were writing on for Antics.
I for myself try to make sure everything I’m playing I really enjoy playing. As a group we did wanna make the songs little more concise on this record and a little less mandering. Which doesn’t mean better songwriting in itself but this album is little different, we have many repeating courses and we kind of worked within more typical pop-structure. But that was something we didn’t have to talk about, not like a Hey why don’t we try and write like that-thing. That is in line with an idea of concisness that we worked with.
Have you been a little bit shocked when for example “Slow Hands” came up as such a catchy pop-song?
No, we knew. We never avoided that before. On this album there happen to be more moments that I think are kind of catchy poppy, but it was not that we ever didn’t wanted to do that. Just our other songs weren’t kind of quit that same catchyness in a way.
How far was there kind of a follow-up pressure for the second album because the first one was so successful? Was there a pressure for you to do it maybe better?
Those things are all so abstract and subjective. “Better” – who knows what better is. After touring for sixteen month, we did start writing instead of thinking Oh god, we got this pressure. We were actually just thinking like Ha, let’s fucking write some songs, pardon my french. And once we started writing the songs we were all very enthousiastic about how they were coming along and that kind of blinded us from every consideration. I think you only worry if you have nothing better to think about and we had all this stuff to think about. There was a lot more enthusiasm than worry. So I didn’t really feel that pressure.
How important is perfection to you? Are you always trying to be as perfect as possible?
In my own way I do, yeah. But perfection for me is different than perfection for somebody else. For me trying to be really good also allows a lot of mistakes and sloppyness. That for me is okay, within this driving to be great. So, we define what perfection is in our music and I think we play our music perfectly. But perfection as far as never make a mistake – that doesn’t fit my idea of perfectly playing our music is.
What do you expect from yourself and from others? Is that always going the same line for the four of you?
No. Carlos for instance is a very constistant player. He’s very technically good. I’m not even a very good guitar-player, so I don’t even worry about messing up or anything like that. That for me is fine but for Carlos… I think he is a very good guitar player and he plays very precisely. I don’t like hitting wrong notes with my voice, that’s one thing. But I still do. Everyone has a different idea of it.
In which direction do you want to go as a band?
I got no idea. We do think about it but who knows what’s gonna happen. We’ll probably be on the road for this album for another year. So once that happens, maybe we’ll all say Ok, I don’t wanna see your face for six month or we would all say Wow, let’s write another record– I have no idea.
We wanted to put out our second record soon because people can believe that it was a fluke if you make one good record. But if you make two good records then you can’t deny that band anymore. So I feel like we have the luxury of doing whatever we want now.
Do you sometimes read the reviews of your records or the concerts?
I did. Then I read a couple of bad ones – so I stopped.
How do you get an impression how you’re seen by others? Are you interested in?
I don’t worry about it, no. It’s only once in a while that I read something that’s really true to what I believe. And then so much is kind of like Ey, it’s good but I have no idea what they’re talking about or It’s bad and it means nothing to me. Bad reviews are often missing some kind of point fundamentally, there’s almost something evil in a review cause they’re so not understanding what’s happening that it makes you feel groce. Someone who says that we’re trying to sound like something else, it’s like No, but also why would you wanna say that? . I don’t even want to think about it.
Are there still these Joy Division-Comparisms?
Not so much the Joy Division ones, not with this record. The whole time it was kind of When is this going to stop? We’re not like Joy Division – get over it! All the things why people said it, there is not the point of reference, it’s not similar, cause I sing differently and I look better as a singer. For someone to say that some momentes on this new record sound like post-punk is wrong. Or to say that it sounds like one band within post-punk is really wrong. But than in the same time they can’t say that we did that on purpose because this album feels and sounds very natural, so it wasn’t like we were trying to do anything which is what we said the whole time. We are just doing what we do. I’m glad people are done talking about it. And I always knew that when we made another record they get it a little bit better. I was just waiting.
Do you wanna explain it sometimes to the ones who wrote the reviews because you’re feeling misunderstood?
No, there’s nothing that I want to explain actually. Not even in the first album. It doesn’t bother me at all if people say Oh they sound like this, that’s okay, that’s their opinion. But when people start to say They are influenced by this then they’re assuming they know me and they don’t know me and they’re wrong. So that’s what was frustrating. But there’s nothing I can explain. It’s like me telling you Oh yeah, you got that jacket and that means that you’re like this, it’s like No, actually I got this jacket for some other reasons that you don’t know anything about and the fact that you said that makes me wanna say `fuck you, I don’t even wanna talk to you anymore because you said something like that`. So no, I never felt like explaining it but it was annoying.