There is a light...
Few bands ever truly go the distance. It’s a cold hard fact of growing up obsessing about, falling in love with, and endlessly discussing the demise of your music heroes as they burn out in a blaze of misguided ambition, stubbornly fade into obscurity or painfully evolve into Bono. And while they rarely defy the corrosion of tastes, trends and time for too long, albums typically fare much better, often capturing bands at their most vital. But let’s not get this confused with wet-eyed, rose-tinted romanticism; the majority of bands and albums make perfect sense at the time but only some truly stand the test of it.
A decade after guitar music’s last great resurgence, Interpol’s monotone, monochrome introduction stands as aloof and lovelorn as ever with ‘Turn on the Bright Lights’ the immaculate calling card; as clean, sharp and effortlessly dark as Daniel Kessler, Paul Banks, Carlos Dengler and Sam Fogarino’s perfectly tailored suits. On August 20th, the album turned 10; next month, on December 3rd, it will receive a respectful, deluxe re-issue.
It’s one of the albums that’s characterised and crystallised that renaissance, while creating one of the most memorable band aesthetics of this generation: the clinical beauty, slow-burning intensity and dedication to a simple black and white image. But the music was anything but, melding the despondent weight of Banks’ penetrating lyrics with Kessler’s tumbling guitar melodies.
Looking back isn’t something Interpol have ever been comfortable with, but after promising to mark the ten year anniversary of their debut in the right way, they were aware that it demanded the same attention to detail as any of their other work.
“Once we committed to doing it, like with all our records, if we are going to say something, we really want to have something to say,” explains Kessler from a break in Italy. “And once you commit to doing it, you need to do it properly and spend a lot of time and energy digging through photographs that were never published and the rare tracks and the DVD footage.
“I remembered a recording of us was playing in New York City in the Mercury Lounge. I’m not really sure why we decided to record that show, but I think we needed it to send off to a festival or something. That was Sam’s first show and you’d think the first show might be something you’d throw away, but I remember it being a really good show and feeling really committed. I was looking back at it and I felt we were a really tight band and you could feel the chemistry. Now looking back through all this archival stuff, looking back with some objectivity, it’s pretty amazing to see how significant that show was all these years later.