Interpol Is Back With Unintentional Anagrams and a New Outlook

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A nearly 20-year career has seen a lot of changes for the band, many of them subtle, but all of them direct. On Antics, Banks devolved his euphemisms into love affairs with serial killers ("Evil") and prostitutes ("Narc"). The detached longing on "C'mere" and the level of purposeful misdirection layered on "Not Even Jail" remain unrivaled.

Despite a few hits, Our Love to Admire is generally seen as a low point in the band's career and was a highlight of the group's brief tenure at Capitol Records before it returned to Matador for its self-titled fourth record. It was Interpol's last album to feature Carlos D., and with the infamous tension in that relationship, the band seemed to be restructuring itself.

But it's evident Interpol still is reinventing itself and has found its footing again, having just released its fifth album, El Pintor, last fall. The name, Spanish for "the Painter," also cleverly anagrams into Interpol.

"I think I just found that out yesterday," says Fogarino with a laugh. "I think we might have been a little wary at first that it might be a little hokey, but the image and the term in Spanish were too good to deny. I like the image with the term, the painter, with the demure, lovely hands . . . That kind of thing worked really well."

El Pintor is a return to roots for the band, which means more direct song structure while still offering the rewards that earned Interpol's fan base. Written on a balcony in Buenos Aires, "All the Rage Back Home" seems fixated on the hesitancy to trust someone, especially when one's occupation is often on the road. Maybe it's the numbers, but "Breaker 1" evokes "Obstacle 1" with its stoic lyrics delivered in a Morse code cadence.

Another standout track, "Everything Is Wrong," coincidentally shares a title with an early Moby album. But while electronica's vegan grandmaster used his music as a political diatribe, Fogarino says, Interpol's concept deals more with self-reflection and futility.

"I don't know if it was that kind of global view of the human condition at this point in time," he says. "It's way more personal, I think."

The black-and-white video for "Everything Is Wrong" (directed by the band's frontman, Banks, and Carlos Puga) features Kessler nibbling an ice cream cone and helping old ladies across the street while Fogarino charmingly flirts with models. Banks himself is almost unrecognizable as a hustling creep in a generic "NY" hoodie.

"The whole intention was to be a little more playful," Fogarino says. "That whole depiction of an egotistical kind of star, walking around with his bodyguard, just being annoying, not really paying attention to anything that's around you -- it's all about just yourself. I think we had a blast doing it."

The recent series of videos is unique because rarely do Interpol's music videos feature the band playing, a trope Fogarino wants to avoid because "they're kind of a drag to make." That's why, in the past, "The Heinrich Maneuver" featured actors running in slow motion. But perhaps most iconic is the band's work with Charlie White, who directed "Evil" and is responsible for the retro-futuristic 2001: A Space Odyssey-meets-The Holy Mountain feel on "Lights."

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Troy Farah is an independent journalist and documentary field producer. He has worked with VICE, Fusion, LA Weekly, Golf Digest, BNN, Tucson Weekly, and Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Troy Farah