A Song By My Favorite Band | Love and Respect
I don’t remember how I found Interpol.
I know that I’d heard the buzz when they released Turn On the Bright Lights. I know that they were hailed as part of the “New York scene” from early in the last decade. I knew their name, but I didn’t know their music.
There’s a lot to hate about them, if one is so inclined. Are their lyrics occasionally pretentious to the point of incomprehensibility? Yeah. Do they have the inbuilt annoyingness common to many bands from New York? Sure. Do they sound a little too much like Joy Division? Absolutely.
But there I was, just before Antics came out, falling under their spell. Those pretentious lyrics were not important to me; sometimes, the voice is an instrument, and what you are singing is less important than how you are singing it. Sure, they may be one of those wanky New York bands, but as a fresh transplant to the city, I found that appealing, not appalling. And you know what? I fucking love Joy Division, and I don’t see anything wrong with a band that seems to be furthering that sound.
Was it stupid when Paul Banks claimed that he’d never heard Joy Division when Interpol was formed? Yes, very. There’s nothing embarrassing about influences, else every band in the past 40 years would be ashamed to mention the Beatles. There’s nothing embarrassing about being the band that filtered Joy Division through ’80s synth pop and early ’90s grunge. Paul Banks’ baritone calls back to St. Ian Curtis as surely as the Backstreet Boys called back to New Kids on the Block.
(It should be noted that, as far as saints go, Ian Curtis was kind of a bad person. Which puts him in line with most of the rest of my personal saints.)
So: through that spring of 2004, learning something new, loving them the way we always love the shiny and new, trying to justify their faults as merits. And they’ve never disappointed me. I’ve never been let down. Which is not a thing that’s happened much in my life.