Two writers, the Riv, cryptic lyrics, and the tour that will never end

By Mara Stankiewicz

Yoshi: Every year in January, Voices writers and editors convene to name the top albums released in the previous year. We don’t compile a list democratically; instead, we allow each contributing writer to name his top five, or top 10, and state his case. This approach would seem to cover a greater variety of good music, and yet one band was curiously absent from our lists: Interpol.

These black-clad hipsters generated massive amounts of hype in 2002 and in turn massive amounts of backlash. In fact, the lists mentioned Turn on the Bright Lights only insofar as Pete criticized it. Don’t blame me. If I had been in the country, and I had heard the album by the time the article ran, then I would have given it a comfy spot between two obscure minimal electronic records.

Mara: Me too. If I had, in fact, been a real writer for the newspaper and not just some rookie whom Willa strong-armed into filling up the section, then I would have included Interpol. Sadly, it probably would have been the only album on my list, as my relationship with modern music was shaky at the time. Anyway, Interpol is good. I don’t care what Pete says. Then again, I like Joy Division. But still, the repetitive chord processions are not to be taken at face value. I mean, if they were, what the hell are the Strokes? Rather, Interpol’s music reveals a more intense, melodic symphony of music that, if you look closer, is definitely worth a listen or 1,500.

Y: To make a long story short, we went to the Interpol concert a couple Fridays ago at the Riviera, and I don’t think the afterglow’s worn off yet. For me, it’s the same story as the Strokes. I thought both of them were good bands before I saw them perform live, but afterwards they were elevated into “great” status.

M: While I had been listening to Interpol long before the concert, it somehow slipped my mind to find out more about the band. Therefore, I showed up at the Riv with no idea that my leopard-print purse would be perfectly appropriate attire. Besides the fact that these boys can dress, which pretty much means they put on as much black clothing as they can find, they can play like you wouldn’t believe. I didn’t expect them to be able to duplicate the amount of emotion that builds up in their songs on CD, but they certainly did just that.

Y: I’ll admit that hearing “NYC” live brought a tear to my eye. And I don’t even have any attachment to the city.

M: I’ll admit that “Stella…” tightened my heartstrings.

Y: Yeah, basically, the concert was awesome enough for me to forgive Interpol some of their most salient faults. Their lyrics, for instance.

M: She can read, she can read. She’s bad?

Y: Are you completely certain there’s nothing here to be into?

M: I was definitely not into the opening band. Sometimes I feel like bands purposely choose terrible openers so that, for instance, Interpol will take the stage and everybody will faint with pleasure.

Y: Well, if that was their strategy, then it worked. Their opening song, “Untitled,” set the mood for the rest of the show, whether it was Paul’s dispassionate passion, or Carlos’s fascist-chic swagger. If the bullshit about hip guys being too prissy to rock out wasn’t dead yet, then that put the nail in the coffin.

M: When Paul first came out, he seemed pretty nonchalant about the whole experience. Fortunately, he finally looked out into the crowd, found my eyes, felt the rhythm, and started to rock out like never before. I wish. Really, though, as soon as he felt the talons of the Chicago music scene dig into him, Paul’s disenchantment with the experience turned into full-fledged smiles and endearing communication between guitars and drums.

Y: I have some friends who’d seen them before, and said they were too affected or nonchalant, but I thought Paul was more genuine than that. Of course, when Mara says “the Chicago music scene,” she means me and like one other dude. There was this tall jock guy over to my right who was more exuberant than any 50 of the pretentious hipsters in the crowd. But luckily, Paul ignored the hair gel scene and focused on the “pumped dudes” scene. And that made the encore all the sweeter.

M: The encore reaffirmed all of my beliefs regarding Interpol’s live show. Their music brings people together, in a non-corny sort of way. While the crowd shouted for them to come out for an encore, at least three separate groups of people that surrounded me in the pit started up some form of conversation. And then they came out, and it was good.

Y: Well, it remains to be seen whether Interpol can keep up its momentum and record an excellent second album. They’ve been touring for a short eternity, which was good for us—but maybe they’re scared that their follow-up won’t be as brilliant and cohesive as Lights. Then again, maybe they’re soaking up the love.

M: I was definitely soaking up the love.