Daniel Kessler of Interpol Says He Tries Not To Look at the Band as a Job

See Interpol play The Bomb Factory.
See Interpol play The Bomb Factory. Jamie James Medina

Good times continue for Interpol, which recently released its latest album, Marauder. Guitarist Daniel Kessler and his bandmates, vocalist/guitarist Paul Banks and drummer Sam Fogarino, made a huge splash with their debut EP and the first LP, Turn On the Bright Lights. With comparisons to great '80s post-punk bands, the band was able to find a growing audience with each album, even after their newness wore off.

So does he have any advice for young musicians about how to have the kind of career Interpol has had? Kessler is at a loss for the right words.

“There’s no real answer for that,” Kessler says. “You gotta look at it short term and play music, and play in a band because you love it and you believe in it.”

Though the band is celebrated for its debut releases, they didn’t kick these songs out to the world right after forming in the late '90s.

"We had been a band for five years before we put out our first record. We were turned down by every single record label before then." – Daniel Kessler

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“It wasn’t easy for us,” Kessler says. “We didn’t have success come fast. We had been a band for five years before we put out our first record. We were turned down by every single record label before then. Essentially, we stayed together because we believed in what we were doing. We were getting something out of it.”

That togetherness has remained intact, as the band has released six albums to date and has traveled all over the world.

For Marauder, they wrote more songs for consideration than any other album before. Kessler himself likes to keep their albums short. A handful of songs were not used, and even at one point, Kessler wasn’t sure what would end up on the final version.

“We’ve never been a band of excess as far as extra material,” he says. “But that said, every single song we’ve written had an argument for basically being on the records. Even on Turn On the Bright Lights, we recorded 12 songs, kept 11. Then the B-side ‘Specialist’ which, within our fanbase, is a core favorite. It could have been on the record.”

The band isn't complacent. They just keep going.

“I don’t want to look at Interpol as my job,” Kessler says. “I do it because I start writing songs and get excited about collaborating with my bandmates. I have moments where, at rehearsals, there’s this undeniable chemistry. It feels like a growth is happening in our collaboration ... I’ve never said I’m just doing this because what else would I do? I’ve never had a greater plan than hoping one day to get to make a record. To me, everything that’s happened since our first record has been a gift and a privilege.”

Since their first trip to Dallas in the early 2000s, Interpol has found the city to be welcoming for the New York-based band.

No matter the venue, whether it was the Gypsy Tea Room or the South Side Ballroom, Kessler has enjoyed coming here. And while keyboardist Brandon Curtis is not an official member of Interpol, he’s toured with the band since 2010. Curtis (along with his dearly departed brother Benjamin) grew up in the Lake Highlands area and played together in UFOFU and Secret Machines.

Says Kessler from the band’s hotel room in London, “I’ve had many great times, just from playing and hanging out with people.”

Interpol and Sunflower Bean play Thursday, Sept. 27 at The Bomb Factory. Tickets are $35-$65.
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Eric Grubbs is a Dallas-based writer who has published two books, Post: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore 1985-2007 and When We Were the Kids. His writing has been featured in Punk Planet, Popdose, Fort Worth Weekly, The Dentonite and LA Weekly. He supports Manchester City and will never root for Manchester United.
Contact: Eric Grubbs