“Impeccably groomed” and “nice suits” probably aren’t the first phrases that come to mind when you think of most bands on tour — but then again, most bands aren’t Interpol. Night after night of a grueling tour schedule — the band has spent most of 2007 on tour in support of its third full-length, Our Love to Admire — the members of Interpol manage to look better than you do at your own wedding. During a short holdover in New York before heading overseas to perform, guitarist Daniel Kessler talked about being on the road, the move from Matador to Capitol, and the reception to the band’s new record.
Interpol is famous for being on the road seemingly ad infinitum. Will you be touring in support of this album as extensively as you have for the last two records?
It’s hard to say. We’ve been touring quite a bit — since April — and we’ll certainly be doing some stuff next year. We’re going to go to South America, Australia, and New Zealand, but I’m not sure when the final date will be. We haven’t thought that far ahead.
Some of the fan favorites — “The Specialist” and “Take You on a Cruise,” for example — aren’t included in your live set very often. Is there a reason you’re reluctant to bring them out?
I think “Take You on a Cruise” has actually been on the set list quite a bit on this last leg. Now that we have three [full-length] records, we sort of split it up. There are certain songs that are always fixtures in our set, and then there are certain songs that kind of get rotated, for no reason besides maybe how they work in the set. We’re very meticulous about it. We don’t write our set list until about ten minutes before we go onstage. The flow is very important. When I’m onstage, I like to feel the set really has peaks and valleys, like going on a journey or telling a story — very much like our records.
“The Specialist” is a B-side. It’s definitely a favorite of our fans. It’s something that’s nice to roll out here and there and make it something [special]. Then you can look at the faces of people who do know the song and see they’re very excited, because we don’t play it all that much.
Has touring for you become more glamorous over the years?
Glamorous? No, I don’t think so! A big part of your life is spent living on a bus or in a hotel or both. You try to pace yourself, because it definitely wears you down and you have to be careful you don’t get burned out.
How do you spend your spare time on the road?
Very, very, very different from each other! We all kind of do what we need to do to get out of our individual heads before the show that night.
For me, as soon as we get to a town, I like to check out the hotel, get myself ready for the day, and walk around [the area] a lot. Now that we’ve been touring for so long and there are certain [cities] we’ve been to several times, it’s really nice to go to that coffee shop or restaurant that you like a lot. I’m a vegetarian, so I might go to a vegetarian restaurant I like. Little things that kind of slow the day and don’t make me feel like I’m just going from one town to another. I like to have a little time to get a sense of [the area].
Is there anything shocking on your tour rider?
No, especially these days. We’re all a little healthier with eating and so forth.
You guys were in Europe over Thanksgiving. Did you get together over some turkey?
Not really. It’s funny, it feels like we’re always away on Thanksgiving. It’s almost like someone mentions that it’s Thanksgiving, and you’re like, “Really?” You wouldn’t even know until someone starts talking about it. I think all of us are not too sentimental about it, so it’s okay.
Interpol recently moved from Matador to Capitol. How has life been different since signing to a major label, if it has changed at all?
I don’t think it really has. I don’t think we would have signed if we thought it would affect or change the way we operate. And it hasn’t, so it’s kind of the way we thought it would be.
Shortly before the album was released, you posted a message on your website —
I don’t really want to talk about that if it’s something from a message board.
No, no, you guys posted the message.
Oh, you meant we posted it. I’m sorry, go ahead.
It basically said you broke up several times while making Our Love to Admire. Was that just a joke, or were there really some creative differences?
It’s kind of funny. The whole point of that message was just that we were coming along with our record and that we were pretty far along, and then the small little color that we put in there about breaking up four or five times is what people seemed to take to heart. But no, there’s no truth to that.
Was there something you wanted to achieve with this album? It still sounds like Interpol, but it has a more epic or expansive feel than the last two.
We never say what we’re going to do before we do it — it just sort of happens. That said, we’re all about growth and progression. I feel like those sorts of things are just inherent in what we do. We never want to stay within a certain parameter — we always want to keep moving forward, and I think we have. You don’t really want to keep making the same record over and over.
The record that we made [this time] was essentially just where we were going, and it was something I couldn’t really have predicted until it was all said and done. We used a sequencer that allows us to write keyboard parts as we’re writing songs, which was a big influence as far as melodies. Other than that, it was just a natural step forward and made sense for us.
You’ve just re-released a deluxe version of the album in England with a bonus live DVD. Is this something you’ll also release domestically in the United States?
I don’t know if that’s going to be released here. I’m sure eventually we’ll do a [proper] live DVD, I just don’t know when yet.
Critics — though not the fans — have been a bit harder on Our Live to Admire than your previous albums. Does that kind of thing bother you?
I kind of stopped reading press a long time ago. It wasn’t because we were getting bad press; it felt like, you do stuff, and it shouldn’t really matter if you’re getting good or bad press. I do what I do and try not to pay much mind to things that I’ve already done. So, I’ll do interviews, I’ll answer questions very honestly the way I feel, but then I’m not going to read the interviews. I’m not going to watch the television performances. I try not to listen to concerts. They’re done with. I have to move forward, and it doesn’t help me to keep obsessing over something I’ve already done.
The same thing goes for the people who love this record or don’t love it. I know we made the record that we wanted to make, and I’m very happy with it. It’s kind of funny, though, because we were in Europe before the album came out, and we’ve always gotten okay reviews there, but this summer we were finally getting great press over there. It’s probably not that we made a superior record [to the last two]; it’s just more that the sound there’s caught up to what we’re doing. Then I came over here and heard that some people don’t like the record as much as our previous records. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. It doesn’t really matter. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion.