Interpol is one of the hardest-working low-key bands on the indie scene. So it's no surprise that when the trio completed its sixth album, Marauder, there was plenty of leftover material.
Last August, the bandmates released Marauder, on which they collaborated with Flaming Lips and MGMT producer Dave Fridmann. Interpol guitarist and founding member Daniel Kessler calls Fridmann "incredible, a true inspiration to work with." The LP, recorded straight to analogue tape, was noted as one of the best of the group's albums yet by Newsweek. But Marauder bubbled over to fill an EP due out May 17, A Fine Mess, which has the band softening some of its edges.
"It was a very fruitful [time] as far as writing in the last couple of years. We didn't hit too many walls, and we felt the material we were coming up with was all pretty equal in strength," Kessler explains.
The group also worked with an outside production team, Kaines and Tom A.D., on the title track, which resulted in a more dynamic expression of the band's sound. "Their production on that track is a bit different than what we've done previously. This was very fresh, very pushing ourselves into [a song that] sounds like us, feels like us, but it has a bit of a new tint," the guitarist says. "It sounds like us, but it's a fresh new take."
Interpol's lead vocalist, Paul Banks, also brought fresh feels to the lyrical elements of the new LP and EP. "Paul really pushed himself into new boundaries, new waters, and trying to get a little more personal," Kessler says. From the first day they sat down to write Marauder, Banks was singing along to Kessler's guitar riffs. "He wanted to make sure he was really ready to go, ready to be very vulnerable in that process. I think it really shows on the record."
That transparency, emotionality, and moderate evolution has allowed this band, with its distinctive sound that defines a time just after the turn of the millennium, to survive and thrive. Interpol just got back from South America, where its audience included both enthusiastic teenagers and longtime fans. "Something I've noticed and I feel fortunate about is that we have a fan base that has grown with us, and somehow we've been able to resonate with newer fans," Kessler says. "When Turn on the Bright Lights  came out, there wasn't even social media. People are different from the way they were 17 years ago — the way they operate, the way they think about things — and we're constantly being pulled in different directions."
He notes the group isn't changing purposefully to cater to a younger audience. "I can't really do things that don't feel right to me, that aren't me. I can't put on someone else's coat that's ten sizes too big... We try to do things that seem like the voice of the band."
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As Kessler mentioned, Interpol started before YouTube existed. For the band to thrive, it's had to navigate the waters of the internet in a way younger or newer groups haven't. "We're all feeling as a culture; we're trying to find the balance of sharing but also leaving room for things that retain your sense of self," he notes. "If you look at the good of the way we're all connected digitally, everyone who wants to listen to any record anywhere in the world and is in a situation that's suitable for that, they can do that. You don't have to live in a cosmopolitan city to find an obscure record; you can be anywhere. That makes it more equal.
"At the same time," he adds, "artists in general can have a direct conversation or direct connection to their audience, fan, in a way that when Turn on the Bright Lights came out, you'd have to go through certain channels to get there."
Interpol will soon tour with Morrissey. Though the group is used to being the headliner, Kessler says, "It's always good to try something new. It looks like it's going to be a fun outing." Interpol will do the festival circuit this summer in addition to hitting up the Fillmore Miami Beach Friday, May 10. It will be yet another return home for the band's drummer, Sam Fogarino, formerly of the Holy Terrors. Expect to see a devoted following that spans generations, all ready to experience the intensity of sound and emotion Interpol delivers.