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Dandies in the underworld
They're hardly typical festival fare, but Interpol know how to leave an impression. Sam Fogarino talks drugs, on the road insanity and being huge in Ireland and Mexico.
Peter Murphy, 11 Jul 2008
Interpol are an incongruous presence on the summer festival circuit. A band that looks like a bunch of Eastern Bloc revolutionaries fancy-dressed as 19th-century absinthe dandies, playing wintery, austere music in broad daylight to a sunburned crowd wearing outsized novelty hats and slurping lager from plastic cups. It doesn’t compute.
“I try not to look!” drummer Sam Fogarino laughs. “Yeah, the whole outdoors festival thing is very much in contrast to Interpol as a concept, but, y’know… whaddya gonna do?! As long as it’s at night, it’s okay.”
As we speak, it’s late June in New York, and Sam is fresh from rehearsals for an upcoming 26-day festival campaign that will take the quartet from Aarhus to British Columbia, with a stop-off at Oxegen in Punchestown on July 11.
“We went in four days straight, about five, six hours a day, and we’re done,” Sam says. “We’ve a few days off now, it’s good to do that, because I find that when you over-rehearse and then go right into it, there’s no time for your work to seep in, there’s no gestation period, and it almost takes away from the rehearsal.”
Consider the mundane predicament of a working musician on the eve of a tour, roughly analogous to that of a longshoreman on the last day of shore leave. Pay the rent in advance, set up the answering sevice, and, most importantly for a band as dapper as Interpol, get the laundry done.
“You’re right about the laundry,” Sam says. “I’ve been living in Athens, Georgia for about two months, and I’ve been back in New York for the last few days, and I leave this Sunday. I dropped off my cleaning yesterday.”
Those of us who file through the turnstiles tend to forget that the talent isn’t always magically beamed on stage for an hour and spirited away in a chopper afterwards. Itinerant musicians read ‘Travel Day’ on the tour itinerary and weep at the prospect of yet more interminable hours logged in airport lounges.
“Y’know, that is a good point my friend,” the drummer concedes. “When you’re away from home and you have a day off from the performance or whatever, you’re still working, because you’re not at home, and you’re still looking for your day off. What do you do in a place that is totally unfamiliar, or even if it is familiar, none of your comforts are in reach? It’s a little bit of a strain. When you say something like that, you kind of sound like you’re complaining, but it’s a bizarre feeling, it’s not a physical thing, it’s a very emotional and deeply mental thing, and a lot of people don’t understand what it’s like to be away from home for a long time.”