Here’s an excerpt from the Interpol feature that appears in Sentimentalist Magazine issue 25. For the full text, check out the back issue. Enjoy!

Nicolas Sarkozy’s victory in the French election is obstacle one in my attempt to interview Daniel Kessler of Interpol. Our planned meeting place, chic Tribeca brasserie Cercle Rouge, is overrun with pats and ex-pats, celebratory barracking in the back, the clanging of silverware, bar ware and tableware, and the loudest hindrance of all: international coverage of the election results on the telly, bien sûr.

Change of venue agreeably decided upon with the help of a publicist, we walk several blocks down West Broadway to the famous Odeon, setting of Jay McInerney’s classic novel Bright Lights, Big City. The sharply-dressed Kessler, due to fly to Europe for a week of shows the next day, is plagued with seasonal allergies. A hazard and a nuisance to be sure, when you’re about to board a plane and to promote a new record across the pond. Along our way, Kessler stops to peer into a toy store, mentioning he needs to pick up a gift for his young niece in France before he visits.

Interpol is a band that prefers to remain ambiguous, and doesn’t feel the need to fill the press and public in on too many details. The four members—guitarist Kessler, vocalist Paul Banks, bassist Carlos D., and drummer Sam Fogarino—fiercely guard their privacy, don’t do many interviews and seem to thrive on the mystique that surrounds them. Precious little is known about their personal lives (other than what is rumored on New York City-centric gossip blogs), and the official website’s message board even has an iron-clad rule to that effect: no posting of personal photographs of Interpol, their girlfriends, family members or pets. All I can find out about Kessler on the Internet is that he’s possibly a vegetarian and may or may not have two cats. Even Banks insists on keeping his rather large sunglasses on during photo shoots, lest someone connect with his cold, blue-eyed stare.

And then there’s the new album. Compared to their previous efforts, Turn on the Bright Lights (2002, Matador) and Antics (2004, Matador), Our Love to Admire is quite a title for a band so hell-bent on keeping their cards close to their velvety, richly-appointed vests. Have they gone romantic? Are they knocking down the third wall and getting personal for once? Is this, to put it crudely and shrewdly, their “relationship” album? Are they laying their cards out on the table to show us what they’ve got?

In true Interpolian tradition, Kessler doesn’t want to confirm or deny much so early out (early May) from Our Love to Admire’s official release in July. He just wants to leave it up to interpretation, which would become my obstacle two. And the only things on the table as we talk are his mixed-green salad, chamomile tea and my delicious margarita.

The cover art for Our Love to Admire is an astonishing break from the decidedly obtuse, red and black color scheme of Turn on the Bright Lights and Antics. I say astonishing, because like the album’s title, it is clearly the band’s most intentional (and illustrated) statement to date: two lions violently overtaking an antelope. Predator and prey; not exactly impersonal stuff.

“It’s a direction that we’re all really into and that we all really like, and it feels very much a part of this record, the title included. The title, me talking about the title, about the artwork, it feels odd to me. I almost don’t like revealing the title because I’d rather it be all-encompassing. I don’t think it’s meant to be… I think it’s seen first rather than heard,” Kessler says.

http://www.interpolnyc.com

For more Interpol, check out Sentimentalist’s review of Our Love to Admire, and the live review  of the band’s show at Madison Square Garden on September 14, 2007. A behind-the-scenes write-up of the Interpol cover photo shoot can be found here.

–Carrie Alison, Photos by Scott Irvine