When lead singers go on solo jaunts, it usually is a cause for alarm. But not in the case of Interpol lead singer Paul Banks. Having culled material before he joined the New York post-punk outfit, Banks, who had released songs under the nom de plume Julian Plenti, is touring behind a collection of material he'd been working on without the band. He explains to us ahead of his show Friday night at The Observatory, why there's no reason to think he's leaving Interpol and why he decided to drop the Julian Plenti moniker.
OC Weekly (Daniel Kohn): How much of the material on your solo album was older stuff that you'd been working on versus new compositions?
Paul Banks: Some of the things were kicked around in 2006, like “Young Again” was an instrumental I wrote back then. I pretty much molded this record in the past two years, with the exception of “Summertime Is Coming,” which was one of my earlier Julian Plenti songs.
Speaking of Julian Plenti, why did you decide to use that alias instead of your real name and why did you decide to drop it for this album?
Even before Interpol put out a real record, I was never going to use my real name as a performer. It felt more natural for me to have a stage name, so my original stage name was Julian Plenti and that's how I was going to do it and then we as Interpol decided we'd use our real names, so I said “Okay, cool, I'll come back to this Julian Plenti thing.” Fast forward nine years and I came back to Julian Plenti and offloaded that early material that I'd written as Julian Plenti. Now I've pretty much put out all of the work from that period of my life and moving forward, that doesn't really apply anymore. Instead of using an alter ego, I decided I'd keep it simple.
How is the live show different solo than playing with Interpol?
It's so different because in Interpol I'm like a piece of the puzzle. I'm a collaborator with everyone writing it. It's also very similar in that once the song is there, you just want to play it and it's fun playing the music with great musicians. It's a similar feeling, but the music is generated differently. Performing live, I still get that adrenaline and enjoyment out of listening to the other players. That is applied in both cases.
Do you play any Interpol songs or just solo material?
You're not the first to ask and it seems strange to me, and it would be a weird thing to do. I don't have a sense of ownership over that material since it was written in collaboration with these guys and it's based off a progression that Daniel (guitarist Daniel Kessler) brought in. It would feel inappropriate and isn't anything I'd consider for a second. Daniel's compositions are very special and I don't think anyone else could even play it the right way. His guitar playing has incredible feeling and I feel like if you hear one of those songs, you have to hear Daniel do it. Add to that that Interpol exists and we'll play those songs when we go on tour that I don't need to do them.
Does either project take precedent over the other?
They're both very important; I don't favor one over the other. I kind of envisioned alternating them because I don't expect that I won't stop wanting to be a part of Interpol and I don't expect stop writing songs. They're both very important things to me since the band writes songs one-way and I write them another.