Interpol Drummer Talks Photos, Stipe, Interscope

Synergy: it's a beautiful thing. When sights and sounds collide in that most magical of ways, kids wax giddy, angels get their wings, and even curmudgeons manage a smirk. Cue Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino and photographer Christy Bush, who will strive for just that sort of whole-greater-than-sum goodness next month when the photo exhibit "Soundtrack to Nothing" opens at New York's Bespoke Gallery.

The month-long show kicks off April 27 and features candid, Bush-snapped photos of concertgoers from across the U.S. and Europe. Sam's contribution? A seven-track, 30-minute accompanying soundtrack, composed with songwriter Dagon James and special guests under the collective moniker The Last Night. Pitchfork phoned up Mr. Fogarino to chat about the delicate process of photo-scoring, collaborating with idols, and the latest rumblings from the Interpol camp.

"The marriage was perfect," Sam enthused about the pairing of Bush's photographs and The Last Night's music. "It made it worthwhile. I don't think I would have done it otherwise".

The Last Night sprung to life after Fogarino mixed some tracks by James. "We established a really nice rapport and all of a sudden started writing music together," Sam recalled. That music will greet visitors at the Bespoke as they peruse Bush's photographs next month, but don't bother bringing your DAT recorders. Carry a few bucks instead, as a book collecting Bush's photographs will be released in conjunction with the gallery opening, bundled with a copy of The Last Night's debut EP/soundtrack.

Scoring pictures at an exhibition wasn't all gravy, said Sam. "We tried to [compose]...pop songs that created a similar mood to the photographs without trying to emulate [them]. What I mean by that is, a lot of the photographs are of teenagers [at] a rock show of some sorts, and so I could very easily create these songs that you thought these kids would be listening to".

"[That] would be way too obvious. Instead [we were] just sonically observing these kids, essentially creating an atmosphere outside of what they're doing".

This atmosphere is primarily "guitar-based", and features both Foggy and James donning "a couple hats". Vocal duties rest largely on James' shoulders, however Sam assured that "there's always room for a surprise".

Fogarino culled together quite a crop of his own influences to guest on these recordings, including Swervedriver/Toshack Highway lead Adam Franklin, Mercury Rev's Grasshopper, and a relatively-popular gentleman by the name of Michael Stipe.

The Franklin and Grasshopper collaborations came about routinely enough. The former contributes a guitar melody, vocals, and lyrics to a track, while ol' Grassy dropped by to "do something really brilliantly melodious or squawk like the no-waver he is," laughed Fogarino.

Sam treaded lightly when approaching Stipe, however: "I thought about asking him to sing this one song in particular...[but] I didn't want him to feel like I was exploiting him".

The response from Michael was positive, and interesting, to say the least. "He delivered [his ideas] to me on a cassette tape. Inside his own little cassette deck...It's amazing, he's probably been working this way since the inception of R.E.M.. I'm kinda wondering, what songs were written on this little cassette deck?"

Granted, Stipe doesn't actually sing on the Last Night EP, but he did contribute a vocal melody and lyrics to the song "What She Wore". And Sam's mighty jazzed about his little cassette deck: "he's never getting it back. I'm going to run away to L.A. now and sell it and buy a big house".

The Interpol kitman appreciates having The Last Night as an alternate creative outlet and hopes to keep the train running. "Maybe even just to create an excuse to work with [James, Franklin, Grasshopper, and Stipe] again, it would be worth it for The Last Night to continue," he decided. "If I find the right muse and the right excuse to do it, then while I'm not doing stuff with my main squeeze-- that sexy girl that is Interpol-- I'll do it".

"Soundtrack to Nothing" runs through May 27; The Last Night's shoegaze-esque EP tracklist runs something like this:

01 What She Wore
02 Run
03 Maybe...
04 News of Space
05 No Mother Knows
06 Nothing
07 Sometimes

As for Fogarino's main squeeze, well, a lot of murmers have been spreading across the internet about her recently. So, Sam, is it true: have Interpol signed to Interscope?

"Blatant rumor," Fogarino said. With Interpol's contract with Matador "officially up", the band do plan to shop around their latest wares when the time is right. They've begun writing the follow-up to Antics, and Fogarino reports that the process is "moving right along where I think it should...we're all pretty much on fire about it". For now, however, the major-label-leap rumors milling about are just that, and Sam playfully entreats aspiring gossip-mongers to invent some of their own.

"Let's think up [a label] that doesn't exist anymore," he joked. "Casablanca. They put out the Village People back in the day...and they love Interpol. They're coming back, just for us".

Sorry to break the news to you, Sam, but Casablanca still exists. They put out Lindsay Lohan's records. So Interpol would be in good company.

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