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Paul Banks

There’s definitely something socially inept, bordering on super-fan-stalker-dom, about meeting the person you’re interviewing before you actually interview them.
I’m supposed to meet Interpol frontman Paul Banks at a Glasgow hotel before his sold-out show at King Tuts but he’s not in his room, the receptionist tells me.
After a short while, emerging from the blustery street, a hooded Paul Banks appears from the cold, and I grab him before he heads into the lift and introduce myself and tell him about the interview – if, of course, he wants to do it.
He politely tells me he has to go to his room and that he’ll be down shortly.
There’s a moment of panic after he’s submerged by the lift doors – have I blown this? Will he come back down to the lobby? He really doesn’t have to after the queer exchange.
Thankfully he does, and that’s why this isn’t an odd tale about scaring Paul Banks in a hotel and never seeing him again.

Unbelievably, the last time Paul Banks played King Tuts was almost twelve years ago, when Interpol opened the show for a few local bands in 2001.
Now embarking on his second solo outing, Banks admits that it doesn’t feel that odd being without Interpol on the road.
“My first time out being solo after Interpol was odd and frightening and it was very much a learning experience. This time out it feels so much more easy because I’ve done it all before. 
“I don’t worry about ticket sales, I don’t worry about anything on tour any more and I’m a lot more confident now that I have two records that I can pick and choose from, and your set is that bit stronger.”

The new record Banks saw Paul move away from the Julian Plenti moniker; a move that was met with some confusion by fans and media, but as Paul says, this was a very natural process for him.
“Julian Plenti was my first ever identity as an artist before Interpol – I never intended on being a public performer under my real name, so I used to play shows under Julian Plenti when I was in college. 
“When I joined Interpol I wanted to remain as Julian Plenti within Interpol, but because everyone was using their real names, they said that they’d rather I used mine too. So I said ‘fuck it I’ll be Paul Banks from Interpol’ and keep the Julian Plenti name for myself.
“Then years went by and I hadn’t done anything with the work I’d done prior to Interpol, so I made a promise to myself when I committed to the band that I would revisit my solo work. 
“So when I did eventually revisit Julian Plenti many years later, it was important to me to do it as I had originally envisioned it. I always knew I’d move on from Julian Plenti though, I just had to un-burden myself from the original concept.”

As the interview progresses, the elephant in the room came up rather naturally.
So I had to ask – will there be another Interpol record?
Banks doesn’t hesitate to answer in his reply: “Yeah. Daniel has been writing. He has a lot of songs ready to go; what Daniel’s done just has to go through the filter of me and Sam now, and then we’ll figure out what to do with them.
“Daniel introduces all of the songs in Interpol, so we’ll just take it from there.”

Two days after Paul leaves Glasgow in his wake, he releases a free mixtape entitled “Everybody on my Dick like they Supposed to be”, which features Talib Kweli, Odd Future’s Mike G and El-P.
The mixtape is predominantly hip-hop, a salute to Paul’s love for the genre and djing under the name DJ Fancypants. Other cuts also include demos for a few tracks off of Banks.
Before the Glasgow show, Banks spoke of his love for hip-hop at the moment, likening Drake’s ascendency to that of Kurt Cobain’s in rock.
“I really like commercial hip-hop. A lot of the stuff that’s in the charts is great too. 
“I’m a big Drake fan. When he first came about, I really wanted to write an essay about how I thought he was the first guy to introduce ennui to hip hop.
“His [Drake] stance was what Kurt Cobain was to rock, with this idea of the ‘reluctant star’. He has this quality of world weariness, which was very foreign to hip-hop. 
“Hip-hop is very much a social commentary on an intellectual spectrum, but Drake just seemed so disenchanted and bored with life and I thought that was a really interesting, new voice in hip-hop to have a personality like his.”

Paul Banks seems very fond of his Scottish tour manager, Stevie, a man who was, and still is, very strict when it comes to who entered the Interpol dressing room.
“When Interpol played Radio City Music Hall and we had Stevie with us who’s really a dick about people coming into the dressing room – he turns into a bouncer the second someone comes to door and he doesn’t know them. He’s very polite but very intimidating. 
“I remember the dressing room door opening five minutes before show time so his body language is immediately very annoyed. We then saw him back away from the door on this particular night though and very slowly and in walks David Bowie. 
“It was funny to see our tour manager get in bull mode and very quickly back down. It was also a little daunting knowing that we were playing a show with David Bowie in the audience but that was special too.”
 
Banks is available now. And you can download the aforementioned Paul Banks mixtape.

Image: David P Scott, from the review of that night’s gig