Bands who reunite, whether it's for one night or 100 more, are used to hearing a specific type of roar. For Interpol at FYF last month, that moment was the deafening squall that followed the tight opening notes of "Slowhands" at the very end of their set. The massive 2004 hit was many people's introduction to the band's mechanic, four-on-the-floor dance rock, and 10 years later, it proved to still be potent. Facing an ocean of sunburned festivalgoers, Paul Banks, Sam Fogarino and Dan Kessler manned their instruments as though they were sharp-dressed (in black shirts and suit jackets), unshakable robots. It was a true, fashionable return to form.
Along with fellow New Yorkers the Strokes, the National and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol helped to usher in the post-punk, indie-rock era of the early aughts. Their first two albums, Turn On the Bright Lights and Antics, propelled the band from a local favorite to a critical and commercial success.
Before the band toured behind their self-titled third album in 2010, longtime bassist Carlos Dengler (a.k.a. Carlos D.) left the group. Despite this, Interpol spent the better part of the next two years on the road, including opening the final legs of U2's 360 tour. After that, Interpol announced they were going on hiatus. Rumors of acrimony swirled around, but the group insisted that it was just a break, not a break up.
The downtime served the band well. Each member worked on his respective solo project, which, Kessler argues, made them collectively sharper and refocused.
"We played more than 200 shows, and we wanted to do our own thing for a while," Kessler says. "We knew we were going to get back together and do stuff, but we didn't want to force another album. We wanted there to be room for new experiences to come into play, and we wanted to get back together when we felt like we had something to say."
The writing and recording of the sparkly El Pintor, their fifth full-length, went smoothly, with Banks taking over for Dengler. Within three days of huddling up to work on material, the band's old magic swiftly returned.
After putting the finishing touches on the album, Interpol were ready to hit the road again. Since March, the band have zigzagged the globe, mixing multiple festival appearances with headlining shows. Unlike groups who either reluctantly or won't play songs from their catalog, Interpol are just as excited to play songs from the old albums as they are the new one. "When we play those songs, they don't feel old to me at all," Kessler says. "I really like playing them, and between everything we've done, it's hard to believe it's been over a decade since they were first written and recorded."
Even though Interpol's schedule is going to be busy for the next year, the guitarist maintains the band has no intention of breaking up, even if they do take another break after this tour cycle.
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"You can't treat this like a job, I never have and never want to," Kessler says. "I won't do this just to do this. When a band gets together [to make an album], it should be the reason why you got together in the first place. Making a record isn't something you have to do, it's something you want to do, and we're happy doing it."
Interpol perform at the Fox Theater Pomona, 301 S. Garey Ave., Pomona, (877) 283-6976; www.foxpomona.com. Mon., 8:30 p.m. $35-$45.