On "PDA," the reverb-heavy signature track from Interpol's debut album, the band sang about having "two hundred couches where you can sleep tonight." The good news is that they now have another one for you. The bad news is that it's the one vacated by founding member Carlos Dengler.
Dengler, whose bass and keyboards have been integral to Interpol's sound since Pitchfork named Turn on the Bright Lights its No. 1 album of 2002, left the band shortly after finishing recording sessions for the outfit's self-titled fourth album, which was released on Matador in early September. On the current tour, Dengler's role is being filled by two musicians: former Slint bassist David Pajo and Secret Machines keyboardist Brandon Curtis.
In subsequent interviews, frontman Paul Banks has been describing the split as altogether amicable, going so far as to say that "everything you hear in terms of orchestration, which is a lot, plus the bass lines, was him."
But talk to Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino and you get a much different impression of how things played out. He says Banks' vocals and guitar parts informed these new songs every bit as much as Dengler's keyboard and bass parts. And when asked what Dengler is up to now, he says, "Your guess is as good as mine. I haven't spoken to him in a year," likening that period to distancing oneself from a romantic relationship breakup. And rather than offering gracious accolades and making nice for the public, he's pretty blunt about feeling as if he's "basking in the sunshine" these days, sans burden.
"There was a sense of relief [when Carlos left]," he says. "Mainly because we weren't carrying dead weight anymore. To define that: it's someone who doesn't want to be there, who doesn't want to go on to the next phase."
Dengler's primary reason for leaving, according to Fogarino, was that he no longer wanted to play live anymore, preferring to instead concentrate on film and television scoring projects.
"But that's a vacuum to me," he says. "We need to be on stage ... that's the whole point of holing up in a dank studio for eight months and recording a record. There needs to be a release."
Prior to this album and tour, Fogarino let off some steam by recording and touring with Swervedriver frontman Adam Franklin in their Magnetic Morning side-project. Banks, meanwhile, released a synth-heavy but otherwise Interpol-esque solo effort under the name Julian Plenti.
In many ways, Fogarino sees Interpol's new album as a complement to its first: "The process felt just as good as it did with the naïvety of writing the first record, except there was no naïvety," he says. "We finally found a way to take these sounds and subvert them a little bit."
By comparison, he says the group's third album, Our Love to Admire, makes him shriek now, with the keys not sitting well in the mix.
"You love the current work that you're doing more than anything in the world — until it's released, and then you hate it," he adds.
So does he hate the new album yet?
"No, I don't. I really like it. But give me six months ..."