Interpol singer’s solo work lets him explore humorous side


Paul Banks wants to let you in on something: That tennis photo is a joke.

“There’s probably a lot of people that see this photo of me looking angry, playing tennis, and they think that I’m serious, or that it’s actually me doing a shot where I think I look cool,” says the Interpol singer, who is touring to promote his second album away from his band. “But I’m kind of a disciple of Andy Kaufman; I kind of like jokes that people don’t get.

“That one-in-10 people gets the fact that something is wrapped up in humor, it’s that much funnier to that person and that’s the person that’s on my wavelength,” he says.

Banks’ humor has historically gotten lost in the mix of a band whose music has thrived off a sense of cryptic disconnect and whose image has most often been projected with a cinematic sophistication. But he says when he is working with Interpol guitarist Daniel Kessler, there’s a different vibe than with his solo material.

“If Daniel presents this incredibly elegant piece of music that evokes certain sentiments and ideas in me, the thing I’m going to gravitate toward is not thinking some sportscaster is hot,” he says, “whereas when I’m working on my own things I can just be carried by any idea that comes to mind.”

Indeed. On his first non-Interpol album, 2009′s “Julian Plenti is … Skyscraper, ” Banks did record a song called “Girl on the Sporting News.” This latest album, simply entitled “Banks,” features  a few tracks that have similarly silly premises, but are presented in ways that casual listeners might take seriously. One track in particular sounds like an upbeat pop song, were it not for him singing, almost mechanically, “I’ll Sue You.”

“You might see that as somehow literal,” he says. “But that’s a song where I’m exploring the mindset of someone that I’m totally not. … That’s very much like that thing that actors say about how playing the villain is fun.”

Interpreting Interpol?

While Banks is quick to confirm that Interpol is very much still a band, he is also quick to quell expectations that you might hear any Interpol songs during his set. “That’s so far from being a possibility,” he says. “That’d be really weird, man. Those aren’t my songs. I’m [only] 25 percent creator and owner of those songs.”


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