While Paul Banks (vocals/guitar) and Daniel Kessler (guitar) are rightly praised for their creative efforts, Interpol are a genuine band, with Carlos Dengler (bass/keyboards) and drummer Sam Fogarino forming an essential backbone for the New York-based combo’s majestic indie creations. Carlos has tried to emulate the low-end broodiness of New Order’s Peter Hook and Simon Gallup from goth godfathers The Cure, whilst Sam started off learning Rolling Stones numbers due to his love for their drummer Charlie Watts.
Carlos plays a Fender Jazz Bass through an Ampeg SVT Classic and an 8x10" head. Get a Squier Jazz Bass (£180) and an Ampeg BA115 (£250) to get a budget version of this setup, but get some GHS Medium Gauge strings to get the right tone. Sam’s preference for top-of-the-range Gretsch drum kits would set you back a pretty penny, but you can grab a Gretsch Catalina Maple Studio for under £500. Alternatively, spend as much as you can on a good snare drum and don’t worry so much about the rest, as it’s by far the most important part of the sound.
In The Studio
Sam’s a big fan of the band recording all together in the same room, old-fashioned style. However, for last year’s 'Our Love To Admire' he bowed to the tried-and-tested method of recording: drums first, followed by bass, guitar and then vocals and any overdubs. The accepted wisdom is that you build up from the bottom of the sonic spectrum, so that the song's foundations don't get forgotten about.
On The Stage
Both Carlos and Sam admit that they try and outdo each other on stage. Part of it down to sheer competition, but this desire to throw in changes in speed and style is also down to a desire to push a song as far as it can go. Their philosophy is that songs are never finished, not even when they've been recorded.
A lot of Interpol's guitar parts are sparse, floaty things, so it often falls to the rhythm section to provide some drive. Tuned down to DADG, Carlos uses a fast picking style, often pushing ahead of the beat. Most bassists learn to stay in time with the drummer’s bass drum (the one he kicks with his foot), so it takes some practise to learn to be that little bit quicker. To be like Sam, keep that snare drum working, with cymbals used sparingly to get a washing effect. Oh, and hit those drums as hard as you can – there’s no room for what Sam calls “pitter patter” in Interpol.
“Put the hours in – plenty of times, especially in the early days, we’d just walk in and play,” says Carlos. It’s great if a rhythm section can click in a couple of minutes, but playing around with tempos and styles for even half an hour is worth three hours – or three days – of yapping about your direction.