Interpol's Sam Fogarino Talks Carlos D, Record Labels and What's Next For The Band

In this week's print edition we ran a story about the the recent reboot of New York City's most fashionable gloom-rockers Interpol. For the piece we caught up with Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino to talk about some of the recent changes the band has undergone. Most notably of which is the recent departure of bassist Carlos D

Fogarino had a lot to say about the topic, all of which you can read here. But Carlos wasn't the only subject we chatted with Fogarino about. We also discussed the direction the band is headed, being back on an indie label, and what's next for the band.

You can catch Interpol this Saturday when they play Marquee Theatre along with School of Seven Bells.

Up on the Sun: Prior to this latest record coming out you had mentioned that this would be a return to "your earlier sound," now that the record has been out for a while do you think you accomplished that?

Sam Fogarino: That kinda got taken out of context a bit. There was an element, there was an essence of the earlier sound that I kind of found in the tone of Daniel's guitar when we were in the writing process and when we were cutting demos and that really excited me. I always thought that guitars in Interpol, along with Paul's voice, are very quintesential to the melodic aspect, the melodic touchstone of the band. And of course the rhythm section has always been kind of highly recognizable in terms of the bands overall sound. But in those melodic components I fancy Interpol a guitar band and over the years its become very keyboard heavy and even more of a sonic way which some days is kind of cool and some days it's not. I think it kind of went over the top on Our Love to Admire and so what I was hearing guitar wise, I got very excited and that's what I meant by being reminiscent of our earlier work.

UOTS: So is it fair to say that from your perspective this was the band taking steps forward rather than backwards in terms of the bands sound?

SF: I think it's fair to say because it's all about how you combine different elements, just because I feel that the guitar tone sounds a little bit like the first record there's a lot of other things going on around it that are not reflective of the first record at all. Especially with Paul. Paul sounds nothing like he did on that first album, in my opinion, he's become such a singer [laughs]. Confident real crooner, the guy can really project these days and back then he was hiding behind a little overdrive and kind of shouting. These days he's singing from his diaphram like a real singer, like a real crooner.

UOTS: How does Carlos D leaving the band influence the direction of the band going forward?

SF: Well, I think in that department it kind of rests in my hands. At the risk of sounding egotistical I've kind of always dictated the rhytmic bid. A lot of the times there wouldn't be a bass line written before I had a drum part because I would always work with Daniel ahead of time and it always kind of informed what Carlos would do as the bass player. Granted it also helped that he like my drumming, he was empathetic to what I was doing.

He lost interest in the bass guitar a long time ago so I felt like I've been on my own for a while now, he just wouldn't dig in like he would during the Antics period. He looked at the instrument as something below him, he was way more redeemed by writing keyboard arrangements or scoring some piece on his own. So I quite look forward to getting back to where there's a bass player standing next to me that wants to play the bass with me. I feel in Interpol there is so much of that upper register, there is so much melody going on and harmony between vocals and guitar parts and a lot of keyboard elements, there's a lot of room to be rhytmically heavy. I don't think all is dead or lost, I think when it's time to get back into the writing mode I think I have strong intention that that stays alive.

UOTS: I know a lot has been made of Carlos leaving the band, is it just a question you guys are sick of being asked?

SF: I guess it just depends on the day and how it's asked. I think at first I was more worried about being a little more protective of Carlos' privacy and protective of the privacy of the band. He wasn't happy, from after Antics onward and that was a hard thing to deal with. We kind of pushed through, we made Our Love to Admire and we made this record and I'm never going to go out and outwardly shit-talk the guy but I'm glad he left, because it's hard to make music with someone who's not happy making music with you.

When it becomes a burden, when something you are utterly impasioned by becomes a burden to someone else it's kind of hard not to take it personal. Especially when they go the extra step of not identifying with rhythm anymore, be it child like or not it kind of hurt. I thought he was my partner in crime and to have him turn around and really just dismiss the bass, it's just like "wow". We laid down two records of something really unique, just in terms of drums and bass alone, and people really respond to and really identify with, and now it's just being pissed away because somebody changes thier mind, they want to do something else. I lost a little respect there. It just seems exactly that, very whimsical and just seems like he was the kind of person that would say, "oh yeah, I'm going to play the role of rockstar for a couple years and now I'm tired of that and now I'm going to say it's all shit and I need to go do something else and I'm going to make life hell for everybody else while I'm doing that." Thank god that's over.

With all due respect to the guy, and I wish him no harm, no foul, but thank god I'm free and clear. I can't speak for anybody else in the band, we all had very different relationships with him but onward and upward as they say. You know playing with David Pajo, who's been playing bass with us live, really kind of reminded me what it's like to be with a real musician. Not that Carlos wasn't a real musician, the guy is sickly talented, god it's crazy, his talent warrants envy but there's a passion that's missing. Perhaps with what he decides to do he'll find that and that's something that shouldn't die because you're on a whim or you change the whim.

UOTS: Do you guys have any plays of adding David Pajo as a permanent member to the band?

SF: I don't know if David is the kind of guy that's going to join a band to be honest with you. If you look at his resume, after Slint he was pretty much a free agent, he's the kind of guy that will spend time with a band for a couple of years and then move on. He did it with Tortoise and many other bands over the years and I don't know if that would be for us either. I think what the bands needs to get back to is a unified, solid lineup. But hopefully when the time comes we'll have a new solidified lineup. That is far from being discussed at the moment because we are such in the thick of touring that I guess it's important to keep focus were it's needed. And there will be plenty of time to figure that out in the future but who knows. Although, I'd take him in a heartbeat.

UOTS: With it being just the three core members is there a sense that you guys are having to start over?

SF: Yeah, except with not losing any of what you gained by experience. It's like starting over but not from the very beginning, from where you kind of have to put the training wheels on and become a band again. With Brandon [Curtis] and David they really helped us not miss a single step. I mean they came and they didn't bring the band a few steps back to have to gain that momentum again, they really helped us pick up from where we left off. They really enhanced the dynamic and it did make it brand new. They're two guys that we fiercly respect for different reasons and to have them on stage with us is just great. To be on stage next to someone you totally admire as a musician, I mean Secret Machines is a great band, and to realize that mid-set that's priceless. Same with David.

UOTS: You guys recently resigned with and released this record through Matador. Does it feel good to be back on an indie label?

SF: There's no comparison whatsoever. The Capitol thing started out worthy because they had such an amazing staff that had worked with Radiohead, Sparklehorse, there's always been great bands on Capitol. But that changed in a heartbeat when EMI or Capitol, whatever, was sold and then it just felt like, "oh wow, we're a number now, we're a number on a data print out." It was never ever like that at Matador and it never will be. I can simply just walk into the office and take a break from life and go hang out in the confrence room and have a cup of coffee or a beer and hang out with the people there because they're music fans. I think they geek out on a daily basis that that's what they've been doing for a living for years, for decades and there's nothing like that.

UOTS: Both you and Paul Banks released records from your own side projects before releasing the last Interpol record. Do you guys both plan on working on more solo projects after the tour is finished?

SF: I think Paul is definitely going to make another Julian Plenty record. I don't think I'm going to make another Magnetic Morning record this time around. I've actually been working with a band called Twin Tigers from here in Athens, that we had on the road with us this past summer. I've been recording an EP for them and hopefully that'll turn into an album and hopefully I'll be working with some other bands. I think that's the kind of direction I'm taking these days, kind of taking a break from myself and trying to help out some other bands that could use it. So I think I'm going to take a break the paradigm of writing music and it'll be fun just to record it for a while.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Mike Escoto