Interpol are gearing up to release their sixth album Marauder, via Matador, on August 24. This album finds the band leaning in a more experimental, overdriven direction, with help from star rock producer Dave Fridmann. The new album rollout kicked off with the release of first single “The Rover” in June via press conference, followed by “Number 10” a month later. The band have also debuted a third song, “Now You See Me At Work,” in concert.
Marauder follows up last year’s Turn On the Bright Lights anniversary celebration
Interpol spent a good chunk of last year touring in celebration of the 15th anniversary of their debut record, Turn on the Bright Lights, which we loved when they visited Forest Hills Stadium. Continuing this reminiscence, current members contributed Meet Me in the Bathroom, Lizzy Goodman’s history of the first decade of indie rock in New York City. Speaking about the experience to Rolling Stone‘s Music Now podcast, Banks said it was helpful in writing a new record to go back and “revisit work you did a long time ago … almost like a palette cleanse and also a weirdly motivating thing.” Post-anniversary, the group sought to bring that live energy into the studio, working in a small practice room—the press release for Matador features anecdotes like the cops being called on Interpol (ha!) and drummer Sam Fogarino breaking his bass drum.
And it’s Interpol’s most “concept-y” record
On the Music Now podcast, Banks admitted the record ended up being “concept-y, but not all that intentionally concept-y”—it was just that the “Marauder is a character that emerges in a few of the songs, I feel like he emerges by name in one song then when I look at it as a totality, I realize like, Okay, that is also the sort of narrator of this one or that one, or this song refers to that character, and it’s really just the kind of unmitigated id, the portion of your personality that isn’t really concerned with accountability and just kind of does.”
Lead single “The Rover” comes with an odd video
Fascinated by cults of personality, Banks decided to write about a character who “is basically preaching a doomsday message, but also he’s just a very sort of charismatic magnetic figure.” He adds that it “sort of became fun wavering back and forth between his doomsday prophesying and his… manipulative word choice.” The video for “The Rover,” directed by Gerardo Naranjo of Narcos and The Walking Dead, reveals the origin story for the character (Ebon Moss-Bachrach): The Rover is thrown out of Interpol’s van and rescued by the street gang “Los Locos”—no word on whether that’s a Short Circuit 2 reference—then has a series of revelations that lead him to become a cult leader.
As Banks puts it in a press statement: “The events that take place in Mexico City, be it a bump on the head, a visit to a shaman, or the influence of his rescuers… trigger the birth—the eruption—of this new figure.” The video culminates in a moment where the Rover stands face-to-face with its creator Paul Banks, aiming to “exact his revenge on the band.” That climactic scene happened in one take during the band’s real-life Mexico City press conference.
Interpol recruited Dave Fridmann in search of a more intense sound
Fridmann is known for his psychedelic and overdriven style, perfected with Mercury Rev and the Flaming Lips and utilized on records for Sleater-Kinney (The Woods) and Spoon (They Want My Soul, Hot Thoughts). Drummer Sam Fogarino had been a fan since Fridmann was in Mercury Rev, while Banks cited Fridmann’s work with Mogwai and MGMT as influences on the Music Now podcast. Interpol worked on Marauder at Fridmann’s Tarbox Studios from December 2017 to April 2018, as documented by Fridmann on his website. He encouraged the band to record to old-fashioned two-inch magnetic tape rather than ProTools, leaving less space for individual overdubs.
According to Paul Banks’ interview with Music Now, “[Fridmann] was really a part of the whole process… since before we got into the studio,” letting him “get his hands dirty” with the band as opposed to the “co-productions” with Rich Costey on Admire and Peter Katis on Turn On the Bright Lights and Antics.
The remainder of the album seems no less intriguing, including follow-up “Number 10.”
While not as toned-down as Banks suggested when he called “The Rover” the most upbeat song on the album, second single “Number 10” is still somewhat unique territory for the band, with a solo guitar opening leading into lyrics that sound like references to the first album’s “Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down.”
Anyone heading into an Interpol record should expect some, um, unique lyricism from Banks—“Her love’s a pony, my love’s subliminal,” “I watch the pole dance of the stars,” “If I met a waitress could she turn me on”—and Marauder looks to be no exception. Choice lyrics revealed in recent interviews include these, from “Party’s Over”: “Rock ‘n’ roll bitch / I’m into it” (confirmed by Stereogum) and “Baby cheetahs the Himalayas / What’s got you startled umbilical” (per Uproxx). Based on its live debut, “Now You See Me at Work” sounds nothing like Prince, but opens with a reference to him anyway: “Like Prince sang in Tennessee / I wanna drive with you down there / To alphabet street.”
Despite the surface-level similarities to their past work, the band is clearly trying different things this time around. As Banks told the Evening Standard, “[Interpol] have never made a record that didn’t have some strange things on there.” If these lyrics and interviews are any indication, Marauder will have more strange things than any other Interpol album to date.