BACKSTAGE WITH BONO
If he’s actively trying to cross off entries on his rock star life plan then ‘supermodel girlfriend’ has been joined by ‘enormous arena tour’. Interpol are fresh from opening for U2 on the US-leg of their colossal 360 Degree Tour, playing to the sort of packed aircraft hangar arenas reserved for rock’s elite.
It’s an express lift into the upper echelon of rock royalty that coincided with what could have been a fatal blow; the departure of founding member and visionary bassist Carlos Dengler who left to pursue solo work, a defection Banks compares to a team losing its star player. “He is a real icon of rock,” says Banks with some regret. “I think we’re a different band but we’re an energised band.” So the career-making tour with U2 couldn’t have come at a better time and although it was a great experience it wasn’t without its problems.
“One night it rained all through the set-up of our gear and my guitar sounded all wrong. It sounded like I was playing a rubber band between two sticks,” says Banks, audibly wincing at the memory. “So I’m in front of 80,000 people who are waiting to watch U2 with what feels like a wet noodle in my hand. I had to laugh it off because it’s such a rare torture that very few people are ever going to experience how uncomfortable it is.”
And do you call him Bono or Paul? “You call him Bono,” laughs Banks. “And you call The Edge, The Edge. Or maybe Edge because it’s easier. It is strange, I’d be like, ‘Hey, Edge!’ For all I know, people in his inner circle don’t call him that, but I do.” Banks is also quick to debunk Bono’s image as a media punchbag and humourless rock philanthropist.
“He’s incredibly self-aware, very, very smart and very funny,” explains Banks. “He’s become an easy target but he’s not f*cking around with the political stuff and I think he does impact change and make some sh*t happen.”
Don’t expect to hear any politicised songs on the next Interpol record though, the prospect of Sarah Palin making a possible run for the White House has him thoroughly depressed. “I’m reeling from Obama’s experience because I remember when Bush was in office there were a lot of snarky jokes about Bush from my kind of people where we were sort of like, ‘Look, he’s an idiot,’” says Banks. “And now that Obama’s in [office] the right-wing media are being so horrible in a completely disgusting and groundless way by kind of doing the same thing we did to Bush. If Palin’s elected it’ll just be more of the same and I’m completely disillusioned by it.”
Lively political opinions? Jokes about The Edge? Self-deprecating stories about on-stage disasters? As the end of our time approaches we can’t help but mention that Banks belies the gloomy image evident in his band’s atmospheric music and fondness for funereal stage garb.
“As an artist it’s not like I’m Marilyn Manson, it’s not all one large performance and the sentiments in my music aren’t indicative of my entire personality,” says Banks. “When I meet people I’m just me. But I don’t think I could make as much of an impact if I wrote some goofy song.” That may well be the case, but with a breakout album in the shops he may find it hard to drum up that artfully miserable music.
Interpol's new single 'Summer Well' is out now and the band return to the UK in March 2011 to tour.