"Good morning everybody and thank you for joining us in this life or death matter.”
With this fateful sentence, at a Mexico City press conference, New York City indie rock veterans Interpol introduced the world to their new album, Marauder. The moderator continued reading from his prepared remarks. “It might sound like a lot … but think for a second ... in this very moment in the century we are living, art gives us a chance to survive by talking to each other.”
“Urgency and communication are the driving force,” says guitarist Daniel Kessler, in conversation with Phoenix New Times, “both on the album and with the band …. It wasn’t something we strived for, but once we had the body of work, you could see it was there.”
Twenty years deep into their careers and with no sign of slowing, Interpol want us to remain conversational. They set this example with an LP unmatched as of yet in their catalogue, the second as a three-piece outfit, this time leveraging the guidance of producer Dave Fridmann.
Rather than rely on the cut-and-paste nature of digital recording tools, the band chose to record analog. “Dave saw the opportunity to record to tape after hearing the songs,” Kessler says. “It felt like a bit of a challenge and also a bit of an opportunity .... It takes skill and desire to communicate that way.”
The destructive nature of the recording process adds to the urgency of Marauder's narrative. There is a feeling of minimalism, like all hindrance has been left behind. Songs like “The Rover” push forward with greater intensity and velocity than anything the band have released. These songs feel alive, like they belong on stage. In a time when so much music can feel passive, even disposable, Marauder feels anxious to hit you again with a reminder to stay active and attentive, living vibrantly.
Marauder’s writing and recording were interrupted by a lauded 15th anniversary tour for Interpol’s timeless debut Turn on the Bright Lights. Drummer Sam Fogarino explained at the press conference this timeline was something new for the band. “We had already started writing [Marauder],” he explained, “then we bookmarked it for a tour.”
Performing the highly anticipated shows in the middle of the process gave the band renewed synchronicity and confidence when they returned to Fridmann’s frigid upstate studio. “One approach on this record was not to overthink,” Kessler explained, “just to go instinctively.”
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A paramount example of this instinct is how the LP’s second single “Number 10” came to be on the record. “It was barely recorded,” Kessler says. “We worked on it a handful of times in rehearsal, and Paul improvised this guitar bit. We thought it was just going to be this instrumental jam, but Dave really encouraged Paul to do a vocal.” And the rest is history. “It was really indicative of our process on this record,” Kessler says.
At the CDMX press conference, Kessler was asked if the proximity of the Bright Lights tour influenced Marauder to be a sort of “return to roots” record for Interpol. He answered quickly and confidently. “We don’t ever look at trying to do something we’ve done before,” he said. “It feels like a waste of energy”.
Like the Garry Winogrand photo on the cover, Marauder details Interpol as a band in the company of one, alone at the table, yet still ready and willing to stir the pot a little longer. As Banks sings on “Stay In Touch,” “Marauder breaks bonds, Marauder stays long, plays with the real face on.” No further questions.
Interpol. With Sunflower Bean. 8 p.m. Monday, October 1, at The Van Buren, 401 West Van Buren Street; thevanburenphx.com. Sold out.