“The more credibility you gain, the more you have to prove”
Their music is as elegant as their suits. But it seems like they’re never satisfied. And that might be the secret of their success. When we talk about Interpol, we talk about one of the most important and successful bands from NY of the last 15 years. Having released five top albums, they’ve earned the respect and admiration of media and music fans all over the world.
Their last album, “El Pintor” (Matador) has been released last year, and the band is still touring around Europe and its festivals. We got to talk with Sam Fogarino in Barcelona, who speaks his heart out about the band, the music and their way to success.
Good evening Sam, how do feel? Second time in Primavera Sound, right?
Very well thank you. Yes, the first time was 2011.
All right. So after five albums and a great full of high points, how do you keep the interest alive?
That’s a good question. You know, I mean, it’s— I think it just comes down to the fact that I wouldn’t want to do anything else. So, you know, the interest is kind of built-in. It’s kind of permanent, you know? Sometimes, you know, you get tired of doing certain things over and over again but it always regenerates itself, you know? So maybe one day, you’re kind of like, “Ah!” Just like with anything. But then… You know, I couldn’t think of doing anything else. So that’s the most… you know, that’s the one thing that remains.
It took four years to release El Pintor. It may seem a long time, especially when music feels a bit disposable nowadays and there’s this sense where you kind of need to be constantly releasing new stuff when it really may take months or years to prepare a new album.
Yeah. You know, I mean, I think no matter what happens with how music is consumed, if it’s good, you’ll be all right. So I think, at that end of it all, it’s more important to keep writing good music as opposed to like trying to piece, you know, media or, you know, the medium in which music is consumed or whatever. Like you got remember that you still have to please yourself and be true to what you do. Because if you don’t, you know, and then you kind of just abide by what’s going on, you might really disappear.
“If this is a book, this is like the second chapter”
Do you feel at this point of your career that you still have something to prove to yourselves?
I think just as musicians, you know, you want to keep kind of stretching a bit, but other than that, I think everybody is quite at ease, you know, with everything at this point. I would hope so.
You have a pretty strong fanbase. Why do you think they reflect into your music since the beginning without losing interest? What does your music have?
You know, I think that there’s a certain bit of honesty and there’s that element of like, “Oh, I feel that way,” you know? “I could understand that,” you know? I think, it has a lot to do with Paul, and his… not only what he says but the way he conveys it. Other than that, I don’t know, you know? It’s kind of like you don’t want to think about it too much, you know?
I reckon Interpol is a band whose records gained with the time. If you have that with your distinctive sound, it makes a band to remember. So is it something you aim at, when you started the band?
You know, I don’t think… you can’t go that far. Like, you know, if you look in the mirror too closely, you know, to try to make yourself appear in a certain way, it’s going to show. So you got to kind of just take a little bit of that and then… just to give you a little bit of a realm and then let the rest happen.
“You got to have a little humility. If you look around, you could watch people that have believed what was said about them and have disappeared”
I’ve got the feeling that the best of Interpol is yet to come. I think that you haven’t made your the best record yet.
I would hope so. So it kind of… I definitely feel this is… if it’s a book, this is like the second chapter, you know? This is definitely on to something else. I felt very confident about this record early on, and I feel the same way, you know? It’s kind of hard to kind of, you know, predict what that might be and how it will reveal itself but I feel good about it.
Yeah. Thankfully. I think it just comes with, you know, the experience and playing, I don’t know how many shows.
Sam, is there something that makes you keep your feet on the ground?
You know, also you have to do is look around you and you could watch people that have, you know, believed what was said about them or just taking it too far to heart and they disappear, you know? You got to have a little humility, you know? And I think that the longer you go, that that should reveal itself. I think you should project that because people… People like confidence but people like a humble person as well. Especially if they do something slightly extraordinary. If you remain kind of humble and grounded and approachable, I think you’re okay. So it’s kind of hard for me to ever step outside of that, you know? And it’s not in my makeup.
Is Interpol in the right place?
I don’t know. I think that where we’re at is fine, there’s still room to grow but, you know, when you… if you… if we decided to like, “Okay. Let’s go for it,” like, “Let’s become pop stars,” and if you do that and you don’t succeed, bye-bye. That’s a bad luck. So
And that was never our aim. You know what I mean? So if it happens, you know, great. But you can’t… It better be felt safe if you put effort for it.
“People like confidence, but people like a humble person as well”
I’d like to know your opinion about the internet. Could it have been different if Interpol were starting right now?
Yeah. Yeah, I think it would be harder to… it’d be that much more of a challenge to like, you know, stick out amongst the fast, you know, number of bands out there. Because we… you know, it happened for us like on the cusp of like the internet really blowing up.
The funny is, when we were… early on, the first record, when we were doing press and somebody got like an interview for like a website, it was almost like getting like the high school newspaper. You know what I mean? It’s like, “Ah!” It didn’t seem legitimate, you know? It wasn’t print-media. And now, it’s not even thought, you know? It’s kind of amazing.
Do you let your relatives or friends listen to the albums before they’re released. I mean, when you’re sequencing the album. Or is it something that it’s discussed internally by the three of you and the producer?
Maybe a little bit but not the whole record, you know? Maybe little tastes here and there but you want to present it… you know, you… — If you start giving your friends, you know, the ability to express opinion, I think it’s human nature to take advantage of that and you kind of lose sight of what you’re doing. So it’s always best just to like, “Here it is. If you like it, great. If you don’t, don’t tell me.”
Is there something that you like to try in your albums that you haven’t tried yet?
No, not really. I think it’s all been quite natural, you know, with… in context, you know? I mean, I think we’ve remained open to whatever possibility. If it’s kind of… if it suits what we’re doing.
We’re almost finishing. What is the secret of success or what you understand for success?
Don’t ever believe that you are successful. Because you got to keep working, you know? The more… I think the more you gain in terms of like credibility, I think that is more you have to prove. You have to stay there so—
I think when you could finally go “I’ve hit success” is when you retire. I think that’s when you could say, “Yes.” Because you’re done. But I believe that you never… you don’t stop and look. You got to keep going.
Which plans do you have in a short and long term?
And last question. Are you happy?
Yes I am. I’m very happy right now.