Paul Banks on Turn On The Bright Lights' 10th anniversary

Lyrically, it's always seemed to me that you give enough away in your lyrics to lead listeners into the song, but the are ambiguous or elusive enough to not give away the whole story. Has that been an intentional creative pursuit for you to keep part of the meaning of the song solely to yourself?

It is, yeah. It's just the way that I write. It's a more faithful reflection of how I perceive things in general -- I don't really see things that have a little bow around them and a neat little meaning, and say, 'Oh, that's what that is, and that's what that means.' Everything is confusion, and you just have to apply your own subjective thought on something before it's really defined. So, if you just made a bunch of vocals that make no sense to anybody, then they wouldn't even feel compelled to try and decipher their meaning.

I'm coming from a place where I could explain what I'm saying more, but I prefer not to, and I also like that idea that maybe you're not going to get that reassuring sense of knowing exactly what I'm talking about. Because whatever is in life that reassuring? I guess pop music, that's the whole concept of it--a little cliched trope and simple digestible meanings and things. But that's boring for me as an artist.

With the 10th Anniversary Edition of Interpol's Turn On The Bright Lights coming out on December 4th, can you share some of the memories of what recording that album was like for you and the guys?

That was a really good time. I think first records are always special because band's have X amount of time to write the first one, and we had been at it a long time, we'd been a band for a long time, close to five years almost, before that album came out. There was a lot of excitement when we went into the studio, and since we'd been doing shows and playing out, we all knew what the songs were, and we all got along swimmingly with Peter Katis.

We took it really seriously, and we went hard at it, and in the end we were all really happy with how that record came out. And at the time it was a lot of fun. It was a LOT of fun making that record.

Did you sense that you were hitting on something special right from the start, or were you just too close to the songs to realize just how fucking good they were?

Well, thank you. I think WE were all really excited. I think there was a lot of mutual respect from everyone in the band. I loved Daniel's progressions, and I was in awe of the bass lines that Carlos could come up with, and Sam is one of my favorite drummers in rock. So, I was definitely a fan of what we were doing, but that's very different from thinking that other people were going to be a fan of it.

But my musicality was telling me that these guys are fucking good, and I was having a lot of fun doing vocal parts, and I felt that we were jelling, and we had been jelling for years. I felt like we were a capable group of people, and that we can make some pretty cool music together.

Did you have a big role in the recent remastering/reissue of Bright Lights, or have you been solely focusing on your solo album?

I have been pretty busy with this, but we've all been involved with it. Daniel's sort of been overseeing the process and checking in with us, but he's done a lot of work for it. A lot of it is stuff that's been there that we've all known about for a long time, that was just waiting for a home, as far as the extra material. A lot of it was dug for, but a lot of it is just shit that we knew we had that had never been put out.

Paul Banks plays the Varsity Theater on Sunday, November 25 with Wiping Out Thousands. Tickets for the 18+ show are $15, with doors at 7 p.m., and showtime at 8.

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