The thought of Interpol usually conjures visions of dour, brooding hipsters discussing and obsessing over obscure Cure singles from the early '80s in poorly lit conditions.
So why, when an interviewer calls, is Interpol frontman Paul Banks rocking to R&B's Teflon superstar?
"R. Kelly is on TV right now and he's the man," he said. "The moods, the melodies are irrefutable. The guy's got soul. I think he's a genius."
Perhaps this explains the vaguely uptempo mood of the New York band's sophomore release, Antics, due September 28. While the album, the follow-up to 2002's breakthrough debut, Turn On the Bright Lights, isn't exactly shimmering with happy Beach Boys vibrations, it does stray somewhat from the Gothic grimness and gray tones that the band is known for.
"I suppose it's more upbeat," said a hesitant Banks. "[But] I see it like this: The four of us wrote another record and we're a little better at writing songs now. In that sense, I think it's a better album, but it's just a different album, as well."
To support Antics, the sartorially stylish quartet will hit the road for a monthlong headlining trek supported by the Secret Machines. Kicking off October 11 in Boston, the band will wrap things up with a two-date stint at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom on November 11 and 12.
The first single from Antics, "Slow Hands," definitely exemplifies the "upbeat" vibe, with a propulsive, disco-ish rhythm akin to Franz Ferdinand and other dance-punk bands that have emerged in recent years, like Hot Hot Heat or the Rapture.
The B-sides for the single could get even more dancefloor-friendly, as the track will get the remix treatment from Dan the Automator (Gorillaz, Handsome Boy Modeling School) and Britt Daniel from the indie-rock group Spoon.
A video for "Slow Hands" was recently shot by South African video director Daniel Levi (Massive Attack, LFO), and while it's performance-based, there's more to the clip than meets the eye, according to the Interpol singer.
"It's primarily based on slow-motion visual tricks," said Banks. "But it has this strange time-warping thing, [and] if you take a close look you'll get something deeper out of it. It's very slick, very graceful and very pretty. It's a mindf---."
For every upbeat number on Antics, there's a more characteristically atmospheric track. The album commences with "Next Exit," a gradually building number driven by an elegiac organ and an echoing tambourine that evokes a darker version of '60s girl groups. "Public Pervert" is also dirgey and downcast.
"I gravitate towards the same themes, like romance and separation, and anxiety and relationships," Banks said of the record's motifs. "Those are the most potent subjects for me, [the emotions] that stimulate my imagination the most."
OK, so if the album isn't more contented, then what's up with its seemingly offhand, tomfoolery-evoking title, Antics? "Someone will understand when they've lived with this record for a year," said the singer. "And then, all of the sudden, people will get it. They'll get that it's not just some flippant, silly title."
Interpol tour dates, according to their publicist:
- 10/11 - Boston, MA @ Avalon
- 10/12 - Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
- 10/13 - Toronto, ON @ The Docks
- 10/15 - Detroit, MI @ State Theatre
- 10/16 - Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
- 10/17 - Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre
- 10/19 - Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
- 10/22 - Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre
- 10/23 - Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom
- 10/24 - Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom
- 10/25 - San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield
- 10/27 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
- 10/28 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
- 10/29 - San Diego, CA @ SOMA
- 10/30 - Tempe, AZ @ Marquee Theatre
- 11/1 - Dallas, TX @ Gypsy Tea Room
- 11/2 - Austin, TX @ Stubb's Barbeque
- 11/4 - Atlanta, GA @ Coca Cola Roxy Theater
- 11/5 - Asheville, NC @ Orange Peel
- 11/7 - Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
- 11/8 - Providence, RI @ Lupo's at the Strand
- 11/9 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
- 11/11 - New York, NY @ Hammerstein Ballroom
- 11/12 - New York, NY @ Hammerstein Ballroom