Lazy-i Interview: Interpol’s Sam Fogarino tames some tigers; Bright Eyes slated for Westfair 6/4…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:55 pm February 8, 2011
Interpol's Sam Fogarino

Interpol's Sam Fogarino

by Tim McMahan,

Here’s some extra credit that didn’t make it into last week’s Interpol feature.

So where exactly was Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino when I spoke to him a few weeks ago over the phone?

“I’m in my studio in Athens, Georgia. I’ve been working with a band called Twin Tigers that hails from Athens as well. We took them on tour with us this past summer, and I’ve been helping them track and mix their new EP.”

Twin Tigers started in 2007 when Matthew Rain and Aimee Morris were working at Grit, Michael Stipe’s restaurant in Athens. Athens must be a small, small town because everyone there seems to have run into Stipe at some point in their lives (Six Degrees of Michael Stipe?). Anyway, the band has released its previous material on Old Flame Records; and I remember seeing them at SXSW last year at the temporary tent club known as Emo’s Annex (across from Emo’s, of course). The four-piece all wore white T shirts and sounded like soaring indie rock, with an undercurrent of shoegaze and an extra helping of Jesus and Mary Chain.

“Twin Tigers were friends first,” Fogarino said of their relationship. “My wife discovered them on Myspace and turned me onto them.” It was only a matter of time before Fogarino ran into the band. “Athens is the size of a dime. I met them just before we decided to take them on the road (with Interpol). Matthew (Rain) approached me outside of a record store. He had a copy of The Cars’ Candy-O under his arm that he was buying for a friend.”

After the tour, Twin Tigers were invited into Fogarino’s private studio that he shares with a business partner. “The challenge is to capture their live essence on recording when there’s really nothing live about about the recording process,” Fogarino said. “I thought I could tap into that energy and abandon, and bring a sense of empathy to the process.”

Plus he wanted to help out the starving artists. “They’re a young band and they don’t have a budget to record,” Fogarino said. “They’re friends and we have respect on a musical level. So the proverbial clock isn’t ticking during these sessions; they don’t have to worry because they only have an hour left.”

But that said, Fogarino doesn’t want to turn the sessions into a “My Bloody Valentine-type thing. It’s a four-song EP. We’ll get back from touring at the same time and spend a week together and get it done.”

So how does working on a project like Twin Tigers translate to Interpol? Fogarino, who has also played with Swervedriver frontman Adam Franklin in the band Magnetic Morning, said it’s impossible to not bring something back to the table. “There’s always a new recording technique or just an observation on how something is done,” he said. “It kind of makes going back home, let’s say, a lot more refreshing. You got a chance to stray for a little while and then return when you’re comfortable.”

With Twin Tigers “they don’t feel that I’m being this bigshot that’s telling them how it is,” Fogarino said, adding that his role as a sort of mentor involves passing along anecdotes about his early days with Interpol. “Interpol has a great sense of integrity in terms of how we handled our success, so to speak” he said. “But every now and again you find yourself bitching about superficial shit and I think back to Twin Tigers, working in a vegetarian restaurant and having to find someone to cover their shift. It provides an interesting sense of reality.”

I don’t need to tell you that Interpol’s show tomorrow night at The Slowdown has been sold out for weeks. It’s worth it to try to scrounge up some tickets if you have a chance. They’ll be bringing their arena show to one of the smallest venues they’ll be playing on this tour, and it’s bound to be spectacular.

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Bright Eyes announced that it’s playing at WestFair Amphitheater in Council Bluffs June 4 with Jenny and Johnny. The $25 tickets go on sale this Saturday. I thought for sure Bright Eyes was going to be the MAHA Music Festival headliner, but not anymore… Now what, MAHA?

Speaking of Bright Eyes, the new issue of Rolling Stone arrived at my doorstep today, and The People’s Key is the featured CD review. The 3-1/2 star review by Jon Dolan concludes with: “He manages to be everything at once: folkie and punk, old soul and eternal boy, high-plains drifter and hipster heartthrob. He’s busy being born again every time he strums a chord.” Read the whole thing online here.

So far the album has received a rating of “90” from review-site aggregator Album of the Year (here).

My review of The People’s Key goes online tomorrow.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


The Lazy-i Interview: Interpol’s Sam Fogarino talks Carlos D. and the new line-up…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:33 pm February 2, 2011

Interpol circa 2010. Photo by Jelle Wagenaar.

Fashionably Gone

Interpol returns with a new face on bass.

by Tim McMahan,

When Interpol makes its triumphant return to Omaha after an eight-year absence, they’ll be one man down and two men up.

Iconic bass player and fashion plate Carlos Dengler, a.k.a. Carlos D, no longer is a member of Interpol, having left just after the recording sessions wrapped up for the band’s new, self-titled album. The announcement came as a surprise to long-time Interpol fans who credit Carlos D for, among other things, the band’s impeccable sense of style. But the fans weren’t the only ones surprised by Dengler’s defection.

“It’s kind of weird,” said Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino from his home in Athens, Georgia, just prior to leaving on the tour that brings Interpol to Omaha Feb. 9. “It’s a weird sensation when you realize you’re in a band with such a whimsical person who you’d never thought would pull a 180.”

Fogarino said Carlos D’s announcement came out of the blue. “He decided essentially that he’s done with making music in a rock band,” Fogarino said. “He got tired of the paradigm and lost his affinity for playing four strings and wanted to concentrate on classical composition and/or scoring for motion pictures. We all really wish him well.”

But as the interview went on, it was obvious that the loss of Carlos still stings like a betrayal. “We all have outside interests with music or art forms,” Fogarino said. “We’re in this for life. It’s something we all wanted to do since childhood. How many bands are out there whose body of work will never see the light of day? Talent has nothing to do with it. This person was in a great band and had creative freedom, and he up and walked away. It’s truly bizarre to me. After the confusion and anger of the whole situation, you say ‘I hope you don’t keep doing that in life, because life doesn’t tolerate it.’ I would love to be many different things, and if I answered to those whims it would be ridiculous, I wouldn’t get anywhere.”

Interpol, self-titled (Matador, 2011)

Interpol, self-titled (Matador, 2011)

But Fogarino quickly added, “That’s not to say (Dengler) hasn’t found his true calling. This could be his stepping-stone, whereas this band is my end point.

“It’s one thing to be the flavor-of-the-minute, the whole Andy Warhol thing,” Fogarino continued, “it’s another thing to be accepted and to hit a level of establishment and not be taken lightly, and to be able to tour every record and have your fan base keep growing and returning. For someone like me, (guitarist vocalist) Daniel (Kessler) and (guitarist vocalist) Paul (Banks), it’s the be all and end all. You work toward it and keep a close eye on the integrity of the band and try to expand without making a fool of yourself and watering down what got you to this position to begin with.”

That’s exactly what Interpol has managed to do throughout its 13-year career. After recording several EPs, Interpol released its debut full-length, 2002’s Turn on the Bright Lights, on Matador Records — an album that immedately established them on a national level as the arbiters of a stylish, distinctive post-punk sound that paid homage to predecessors like Joy Division and Gang of Four. Those early comparisons slowly faded into the background as 2004’s Antics and 2007’s Our Love to Admire galvanized their intense, foreboding style in the minds of their ever-growing fan base.

The band’s recently released self-titled album carries on the tradition — it sounds like an Interpol album, but with a nod toward its early days, thanks to producer Alan Moulder, whose body of work includes albums with My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Swervedriver, Jesus and Mary Chain and Nine Inch Nails.

“Alan signed on and for the first time, there was a great level of comfort to let the mixer mix the record,” Fogarino said.  “We had nothing to fret over.”

But they still had to worry about who would handle the bass chores when the band hit the stage. “In contrast to how Carlos felt about playing bass in Interpol, it’s probably the most complicated, intricate and most chops-driven part of our sound,” Fogarino said. “He danced in between the rhythm. He was really good at writing creative bass lines. Who was going to be the man?”

It was the band’s long-time sound man, Harley Zinker, who had the answer. “Harley had been out with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and said get David Pajo,” Fogarino said. Best known as the guitarist in legendary math rock band Slint, Pajo had played in a handful of bands since Slint’s break-up, including Tortoise, Stereolab, Zwan and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

“We had two rehearsals with David to get his feet wet, and he knew the songs better than I did, especially material we hadn’t played in ages,” Fogarino said. “He’s kind of a mockingbird, except that he doesn’t just replicate, he really can feel the song and the part and how it should be played, he doesn’t just hit the notes. As soon as he played some shows, I knew everything was going to be fine.”

In fact, not only was there no backlash from Carlos D fans, Fogarino said people were screaming Pajo’s name. But he wasn’t the only addition. Interpol also added School of Seven Bells’ keyboardist/vocalist Brandon Curtis to the line-up, supporting Banks on backing vocals and playing keyboard for what would usually be handled with a sequencer. “That was a real thrill to have live keyboards,” Fogarino said. “The dynamic has changed for the better.”

But he added, the real question is how the new players will fit in when it comes time to write new material. “If we can take anything away from the live experience, we’ll be fine.”

Fogarino fondly remembered the last time Interpol played Omaha, during a blizzard at Sokol Underground in January 2003. “Back then, we were still loading our own gear, and we were loading out in a foot of snow,” he said. “I remember I snagged a really cool, screen-printed Low poster.”

Fogarino said there’s a chance you might hear some songs from that ’03 show at Slowdown Feb. 9. “The set list is constantly growing and we’re digging deeper to material we haven’t played in years,” he said. “We’ll be going from a 7,000-capacity venue one night to 650-capacity venue the next. For us to hit such a small stage, we’ll be on fire.”

Interpol plays with School of Seven Bells, Wednesday, Feb. 9, at Slowdown, 729 No. 14th St. Showtime is 9 p.m. This show is sold out. For more information, visit

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There was so much more with Sam Fogarino that I’ll be posting a “Pt. 2” of this story next week that covers his work with Athens, Georgia band Twin Tigers.

And since we’ve been talking so much about Carlos D., you might as well read this 2003 Lazy-i interview with Carlos, online here.

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Tomorrow, a look inside 89.7 The River’s New Day Rising.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.