Interpol talks major labels and post-punk as band readies self-titled fourth LP

In the early ’00s, as the new millennium dawned ugly and crazy, indie rock threw a dance party. The music was bleak and nervous and twitchy — exactly what the world needed, or at least deserved.

Taking inspiration from Joy Division and Gang of Four, defunct British acts no one had thought about 20 years, a new generation of bands set somber lyrics to sexless punk-funk beats, creating a sound that would rival garage as the decade’s defining retro-rock trend.

Of all the groups to emerge from that scene, few have had the staying power of Interpol. The dark, dapper New York City outfit has released three albums, the most recent of which, 2007’s “Our Love to Admire,” came out on Capitol and reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Having since left that label, Interpol is getting ready to drop its self-titled fourth album via Matador, the indie whence it came.

With a fondness in our hearts for Interpol, Listen, Dammit, caught up with drummer Sam Fogarino on the eve of a U.S. tour, and here are three things we learned:

1. The split with Capitol was amicable. When Interpol’s original Matador contract expired, the band was drawn to Capitol by its staff — creative, supportive folks that actually liked and wanted to promote the band’s music. This being the record business, and a major label to boot, all of those people were later fired, leaving Interpol with few backers. At that point, the group and the label decided it made sense to part ways. “There was a lot of goodwill,” Fogarino says. “I have nothing bad to say. They didn’t shelve us. I was really pleased and surprised. It was really smooth. And we had a record in the can. We owned this record. We ended up not resigning to Matador but licensing the record to Matador. We own the master.”

2. The last record wasn’t a Capitol’s offense. While some hear in “Our Love to Admire” the kind of slick pop album bands are forced to make after going mainstream, Fogarino says Capitol asserted no influence over the music. He and his band mates like the album, particularly for what it represents. “I think we all felt the best thing about ‘Our Love to Admire’ was it was kind of a crossroads,” he says. “It was in the way we’d been writing and producing our material about as far as we could go. Nobody dislikes the record, but it was kind of a touchstone to then use as a springboard.”

3. That “post-punk” label? The band is post-caring. Interpol will forever be linked with the ’00s post-punk revival, and while Fogarino sees that movement as a media creation, he doesn’t much mind the classification. Explaining why, he paraphrases a quote from Bruce Springsteen: “There’s no songwriter that can be fascist enough to dictate perception,” Fogarino says. “Coming from such a storyteller, too, that’s very giving of him. I don’t impose what I think the song is about on anybody that’s listening to it. You kind of have to take that attitude as well, be it with press or the listeners. It’s up to them. A lot of the comparisons, I think, were kind of trying to show us in a positive light, and it wasn’t always like we’re ripping off a sound or a band out of the midlands of England. Sometimes people like that aspect, and that’s why they like the band, because it reminds them of something.”

— Text by Kenneth Partridge, photo by Jelle Wagenaar

  1 comment for “Interpol talks major labels and post-punk as band readies self-titled fourth LP

  1. Jim
    July 27, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    I found it rather strange (and never heard any reasons) that they left the major label after one album, but I’m glad to hear it was amicable.

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