home spun desperation
interpol are one of those bands that elicit strong reactions in people, which is a good thing. either called the most exciting new messiahs of the new york music scene or annoyingly retro and derivative, everyone has an opinion. mine may be slightly tainted, although i always try for as much objectivity as possible. after missing them at brownies (r.i.p.) in 2001, i emailed them to get on their mailing list after hearing an as-yet-unreleased track online (then called "mascara"). imagine my surprise when i got an email back from carlos d, identifying himself as the dj i knew personally from goth clubs like alchemy and his wnyu radio show. i finally caught them when they were bottom of the bill on a weekday localbandsnyc show at bowery, playing to a mostly-empty room. i couldn't understand why this band had such a bad slot and turnout, since i thought their EPs were great. the next time i saw them was at mercury lounge, when the show sold out just after i got inside. from then on, it's been a steady rise of venue sizes and attention. my reaction to this is pride and satisfaction, since there have been a bunch of nyc bands who've gotten a lot of hype and several in my opinion haven't been nearly as good. i'm actually a fan of the bands interpol is accused of ripping off, and the resemblance doesn't bother me. this is saying a lot, because usually it drives me up the wall. but barring a few early tracks and vocal production choices, i believe the band has, after two albums, forged their own recognizable sound from the ashes of the old. even to the point where i recognize their own influence in newer bands.
interpol are the only band i can think of where the most famous member is the bassist (when he's not also the lead singer). carlos is easily the most recognizable one (due to his personal style, plus being the tallest and most mobile onstage) and simultaneously the most often singled out for adulation or ridicule. all of this surface noise is a shame, because in the process he's being very underrated as a bass player. in fact, hardly anyone talks about how inventive all of them are with their carefully interlocking parts, instead choosing to focus on 80's references and comments on their wardrobe or how "dark" their songs are (please).
judging from the final show of their tour sunday at webster hall, the hysteria surrounding interpol is still mounting. from where i stood, the staircase from backstage could be seen, and just the appearance of their legs caused cheers and screams. i also noticed what appeared to be someone videotaping their stage approach, as well as two professional cameras on tripods at the foot of the stage. i smell a live DVD with extras on the way.
this show was much better than the last time i saw them, at the hammerstein ballroom near the start of their tour. they'd clearly gotten the kinks out. there were no new songs, like at the end of their last tour before antics, but they did something i've never heard before; it could almost be called jamming. there were at least three songs that had extended intros or outros. you could almost hear them thinking "twelve inch remix!" these sections were generally minimalist, lots of drum variations with scratching and noise interplay, vaguely reminiscent of the hardest sections of dancier gang of four or early cabaret voltaire. i hope this hard-edged improvising is something they'll continue to develop. besides seeming like one of the few times they all had fun onstage at this show, maybe it'll get them a little more respect.
the title of this post comes from interpol's song hands away.