Interpol on 20 years of ‘Antics’ and touring with The Cure


Interpol have spoken to NME about 20 years of their classic second album ‘Antics’, and their plans to celebrate the anniversary on a UK tour this winter.

This week saw the NYC indie veterans announce plans to play their second LP in full at dates across the UK in November. The album, following on from their seminal debut ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’, contained the singles and indie disco staples ‘Slow Hands’, ‘Evil’, alongside fan favourites ‘C’mere’ and ‘Narc’. The record cemented the band’s success and went on to become a classic of the era. It led to the group signing to a major label for the mainstream success of their third album ‘Our Love To Admire’.

Speaking to NME, guitarist Daniel Kessler recalled how the band were “actually very mindful of not having any sort of pressure” while they were making the album.

“Touring ‘Bright Lights’ was so full-on, but every time we had two weeks or a weekend at home we went right to our rehearsal space in Brooklyn and just started working on new songs. When we finally finished touring, we already had a good portion of the songs that ended up being on ‘Antics’.

“We had an idea of the identity of what our second record was going to be. We put the blinders on to just continue, but at the same time from ‘Bright Lights’ to ‘Antics’ there’s an evolution and progression. I don’t want to use the word ‘maturity’, but there’s an understanding of what we were trying to accomplish.”

Check out our full interview with Kessler discussing the legacy of the record, the iconic puppet from the ‘Evil’ video, touring with The Cure, and what the future might hold.

Hello Daniel. How would you describe how you landed on the DNA of ‘Antics’ and what you wanted it to be?

Daniel Kessler: “‘Bright Lights’ was our first record, so we had a tiny budget and a small amount of time in the studio and had to make a very ‘live’ record. That record was really how the band sounded on stage at that moment. We just wanted to do that justice. We were focussed on that and being reasonable with what we could accomplish. For ‘Antics’, we had the experience of having made a record and then toured for two years. When we came out of that, we wanted to make the studio work for us a bit more and get more out of the songs. There are more textures and the songs really hold you in the moment a little bit more.

“There wasn’t that much time between the two records, but we were really trying to push it forward and I think we did that.”

So it was all happening very quickly?

“Oh, sure. We finished the record in Connecticut, sequenced it in the car on the way back to New York, then we mastered it. The other difference is that when we made ‘Bright Lights’, it was a different music industry – it was word of mouth and a time that had more in common with the ‘80s or ‘90s in terms of how records were released. It was slow movements and a gradual build.

“By the time we’d finished ‘Antics’, the album had already leaked. That was three weeks after mastering and three months before release. Welcome to the next era!”

Daniel Kessler and Paul Banks of Interpol perform during "Live 105's Not So Silent Night" at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on December 10, 2004 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
Daniel Kessler and Paul Banks of Interpol perform during “Live 105’s Not So Silent Night” at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on December 10, 2004 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Weren’t people coming up to you and singing the songs long before the album was due out?

“Yeah. We finished ‘Antics’ in the spring and then we went on The Cure’s ‘Curiosa’ tour. The line-up was great – there was Mogwai, The Rapture and lots of other great bands [Muse, Cooper Temple Clause, Melissa Auf Der Maur, Thursday, Head Auotmatica]. We were playing Toronto and the weekly newspaper reviewed the record even though it was only just finished. We were like, ‘How is this even possible?’”

How did that feel at the time – to have so many people connecting with the songs but also having the record’s success hindered like that?

“Honestly, it was easy come, easy go. It was another era. I was happy that we had the last final taste of that era of the music industry, but it had all just evolved so rapidly from piracy to downloads to streaming. It was at break-neck speed, so when it happened I wasn’t that angry – but I was surprised.

“It’s not something you wish for, but there was also something amazing with what was happening. If you lived in a remote part of the world with a certain taste in music then suddenly you wouldn’t be punished for your geographical location. That excited me more than I was disappointed that the record leaked.”

So it was another five years until you could buy a boat?

“Exactly! But now we’re all good.”

That ‘Curiosa’ tour sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime event. What was the vibe of that like?

“It was great. Sometimes you do those tours and it sounds amazing on paper but then all the bands live very separately, but there was an amazing camaraderie. It was like a travelling circus. Everyone got along really great and hung out. There would be these really intense football matches between all the bands; just wherever made sense like behind the stage. I remember one of the guys from Muse hurt himself really bad during one of the matches and had to leave the tour.

“The Cure guys were just the best: really hospitable and friendly and welcoming.”

Which band was the best at football?

“Oh I don’t know, man. It got pretty intense though.”

And Interpol took off their suits to play?

“Something like that. American summers are pretty rough.”

The Cure have a similar problem as Interpol – people think they’re miserable and goth, when they’re actually quite romantic and human.

“Oh, 100 per cent. Their music has that quality, plus Robert Smith and the rest of the band are such great people to hang out, shoot the shit and have a drink with. I have wonderful memories of hanging out with those guys.”

Looking back on the ‘Antics’ tour, the shows suddenly felt more ‘complete’. What do you remember about coming together as a live band during those shows?

“We just really settled into it. There are a lot of cliches about the music industry, and you do have your whole life to make your first record. Everything was leading up to us releasing ‘Bright Lights’, but I never even envisioned putting out one record and couldn’t get beyond that. You’re going and going and you get the opportunity to be in the moment and own it a bit more. You’re enjoying being on stage and connecting with each other. By ‘Antics’, we had more ownership on stage.”

How was the mood in the band as you went into third album ‘Our Love To Admire’ and signed to a major label? How did the lessons of ‘Antics’ lead you there?

“We just wanted to expand. We incorporated more keyboards and, not soundscapes, but textures and atmospheres. We took a little bit more time on the songwriting and were really conscious of that. We toured pretty hard on ‘Antics’ and took the time to realise what we wanted to accomplish, which was to find new ways of expressing ourselves. There isn’t a song like ‘Pioneer To The Falls’ on the first two records because we weren’t able to arrive at that point until then. There’s a lot of space in a song like that.”

Do you learn anything about a record by revisiting it in such depth by putting on a show like this?

“We did two shows in France where we played ‘Antics’ in full, and it’s been really strange. It’s nerve-wracking at first. It might not seem that much of a stretch for a band to play an album in sequence, but it really is. It’s sequenced for the record in a very intentional way, but performing it as such means going from first gear to fourth gear and vice versa. When we did those two shows, it really took some activating and getting used to – regardless of how many times you’ve played those songs before.

“Nervous energy makes you be very present in the moment, and you want to stay faithful to what people are expecting to hear.”

Interpol photographed in New York 2004 (Photo by Wendy Redfern/Redferns)
Interpol photographed in New York 2004 (Photo by Wendy Redfern/Redferns)

You recently launched new fanclub service The Big House with a lot of archive content – is this a period of taking stock for the band?

“We’re not one of those bands who filmed every single thing that we did, but we’re trying to figure out what we do have, what our friends have and what we can share. There are some things in the archive that hadn’t made it out to our fans yet. It’s been fun to try and create a little bit more of a community.”

Seeing as long-departed bassist Carlos D was such a big part of that era, have there been conversations about getting him back for any of these shows?

“There’s been no conversation about that.”

What about the puppet from the ‘Evil’ video? He recently needed saving after all…

“My GPS on him has been lost so I need to tap into my tracker but I think he’s alive and well! He’s had some rough moments though, that’s for sure. He’s not a young puppet anymore.”

And you’re touring with Smashing Pumpkins in Europe. Will those shows be more of a greatest hits affair?

“We did some shows with them last year and they were a lot of fun. We really try to feel it out each night per situation. I saw Smashing Pumpkins play when I was in high school, so it’s really great to be playing with them.”

It’s been nearly two years now since last album ‘The Other Side Of Make Believe’. How’s progress going on new material?

“We’re writing a lot this year and we don’t have any specific recording plans, but we’re working on it in between all this touring. It’s a little too early [to reveal how it sounds] but it’s exciting, that’s for sure.”

Interpol’s upcoming ‘Antics’ 29th anniversary UK tour dates are below. Tickets are on general sale today (Friday March 22) from 9am GMT – buy yours here.

NOVEMBER
1 – Wolverhampton, The Halls
2 – Manchester, O2 Apollo
4 – Glasgow, Royal Concert Hall
5 – Newcastle, O2 City Hall
7 – Bristol, Beacon
8 – London, Alexandra Palace





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