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Interpol’s Paul Banks Talks Kurt Cobain and Jackass Guitarists: Exclusive Audio

When Interpol first formed, the band’s melancholy, cavernous goth pop aligned them with an emerging breed of New York bands that were attempting to differentiate themselves from the Nu Metal masses. Nearly ten years later, Interpol have just released their third album, Our Love To Admire and are booked to play Madison Square Garden for the first time in September. Rolling Stone Associate Editor Austin Scaggs sat down with frontman Paul Banks to discuss everything from the singer-guitarist’s enduring love for Nirvana to the dangers of taking song lyrics too seriously. Here’s a bit of their interview:

Though he played guitar in high school, Banks couldn’t translate that skill into instant social cred: “If someone heard I played guitar, they’d be like, ‘Well, play a song,’ and it’s like, I can’t play any song except original stuff, because I never had the attention span. I’d get sidetracked, because when I heard a good interval, I’d be like, ‘Oh, fuck, I’m going to play with that,’ rather than bothering to learn anything all the way through. So I never really learned the wailing skills. I can’t just pick up a guitar and bust out the hits. But that was something I decided to be — I was humble in the schoolyard with a guitar, whereas all these other jackasses are rocking out to hits.”

On why he was offended by Green Day fans: “After Kurt [Cobain] died, I really resented everybody getting into Green Day. I was like, ‘A fuckin’ legend just passed, and you guys are listening to Green Day!’ I was really passionate about it.”

On why he makes all Interpol lyrics available online even though they aren’t included in the albums’ liner notes: “When we started going to foreign countries for the first album, people were like, ‘What the fuck are you saying?’ I felt like, ‘Oh shit, that would be a bitch, with the vocals mixed pretty low and I’m saying strange things, how are they ever going to figure out what I’m saying?’ That was when we first started putting them online. I believe people should absolutely be able to read them, I just don’t feel the need to present them in the liner notes.”


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