New Interpol LP: Shiny Happy Goths Holding Hands? Not Quite

It may be a little more upbeat, but the band wasn't trying to shake the gloom.

No band that deals in atmosphere likes to play during the day.

And while they're not vampires, when Interpol announced their participation in the Cure's summer Curiosa Festival (see "Cure Announce Festival Tour With Interpol, Rapture, Mogwai"), many fans wondered if having bat-cavers in dark suits onstage during the day might result in a tragically fashionable meltdown.

"The New York show at Randall's Island was kind of a painful experience," drummer Sam Fogarino said. "It was really hot that day and we went on earlier [than usual] in broad daylight. Usually we have lights to create atmosphere, but it was brutal."

Somehow Interpol survived the heat and the demoralizing experience of having to watch concertgoers scarf down hot dogs while they pounded their morose hearts out (see "At Cure's Curiosa Fest, Stiffness, Old Hits, Inappropriate Black Suits Abound"). "The day thing can be a little hairy," said Interpol bassist Carlos D., a dead ringer for Crispin Glover's sinister silent "Thin Man" character in "Charlie's Angels."

So it's no wonder that Interpol are more than looking forward to their own headlining tour where they can play in a setting more apropos to their noir-ish tendencies (see "Interpol Pack Their R. Kelly CDs For Fall Tour").

In promoting their upcoming second album, Antics, due September 28, much has been made about the fact that the disc finds the New York quartet in a brighter mood, as opposed to the gloomy heirs to the Joy Division throne — a journalistic peg that became an annoying albatross. But as the group sees it, there never were any parameters to what the band could sound like.

"We never had limitations as far as what kind of records we wanted to write," said guitarist Daniel Kessler. "People might have thought we did by listening to [2002's Turn on the Bright Lights], but we've always had many different interests, and if we're all into [a particular musical direction,] we're going to go ahead with it."

And while the disc is noticeably more cheerful, it isn't shiny happy goths holding hands, either. "Thematically the things that I wanted to write about were changed by the fact that I'm a little older," said singer Paul Banks. "But it's not so much that life is good or anything like that, it's more [that] I'm a different person. Lyrically, the themes are somewhat different."

"He was still pretty unhappy, though," Carlos said.

Perhaps the most optimistic song is "Not Even Jail," which says, "Remember, take hold of your time here/ Give some meanings to the means/ To your end."

"Evil," the expected second single, is also musically upbeat. Built upon a bouncy bass line, the song is almost tender in the verses before lurching alive with hard-edged guitars and a pining chorus filled with romantic longing.

Any change in mood came naturally, the guys stressed. Coming off the success of Turn on the Bright Lights, the band was scheduled to return to the studio almost immediately and didn't have time to make a conscious decision to turn any frowns upside-down.

"There wasn't a lot of time to overthink what we were going to do for this big 'sophomore' effort," Fogarino said. "There wasn't that kind of pressure there, maybe lyrically for Paul, but the shorter amount aided in the record being more concise and focused. So I think it really helped in making us clear and to the point."

"I did feel a little like I was on the clock, but not in any way that compromised the result," said Banks. "It actually kind of worked, because it became my life for that period. I got a little stressed out in the studio, but only because I had that feeling that this is the most important thing I've ever done in my life and I want it to be great."