Paul Banks on the joys of getting "Logic-ed up" in his hotel room instead of liquored up on tour
You've played a number of guitars over the years. Why did you switch over to playing a Jaguar or a Flying V there for a while?
The Flying V because I've always wanted to because it's the coolest looking of all guitars. The Jaguars are, I think, because of Kurt Cobain and John Frusciante as a child. I happened upon my Les Paul, which also suited me because I'm a big Neil Young fan. But that came about from a trade, or I got it for a song, from a good friend of mine in high school. But it wasn't a guitar that I had gone to a store and picked. It's that I saw it and said, "Fuck, will you sell me that please?"
Alongside that has always been an inclination to play a Jaguar, basically, because, as I mentioned, Frusciante and Kurt; whether or not those guys used Mustangs, I don't care. I love the Jaguar. On another side, I've always been sort of a strummy, primarily rhythm guitar player. I'm only a rhythm guitar player. There's a reason why the Rapture uses thin-stringed kind of Fender guitars with that sound, that kind of funk, disco sound. It's made for a Fender, and a beefier, moody sound, I think, is made with a Les Paul.
A lot of the kind of guitar playing I do is rhythm oriented, so I like, once in a while, going over to the Fender side because the neck is thinner, and it's like a less percussive, more rhythmic thing. Also, I feel like the Les Paul suits Interpol. The Jaguar actually came about specifically within Interpol because I had written a part in which I wanted whammy, and I don't like Les Pauls with Bigsbys. I had just got a guitar that had a whammy bar.
These days, with your solo music, do you play more a Strat or a Gibson?
Right now, it's a...that dude from Iron Maiden, Dave Murray maybe? It's his signature edition Stratocaster that I found in a guitar shop, and it's just got humbuckers. So it's got a super distorted, or some kind of really hot humbuckers at the neck and the bridge, so it's just thicker and beefier and warmer than a regular Strat.
What is it about that that appeals to you for what you're doing now?
It's more the playability. I actually fell in love with a Yamaha knock-off Start, like a two hundred dollar Yamaha Pacifica. I fell in love with it, and I liked so much how it played, I tried to use that, and I do use that on stage. That Yamaha happens to have a humbucker at the bridge, so the Fender was an attempt to get a slightly better sound but have the same feel as the Yamaha. The Yamaha I happened upon just because I was somewhere that did sell any good guitars. So I just bought a shitty guitar, and fell in love with it.
You've lived in many places in the world, and on tour and otherwise, you've been to many more. As we're speaking today, you're in Panama. What draws you there?
The ocean. It's remote. Everything is better for me. It's where I'm happiest.
Is it true you've been doing some surfing there as well?
What got you into surfing, and what do you find relaxing and interesting about it?
Since I was a kid, I had body surfed. It's something I got into kind of in high school. On some sort of big wave beaches I was doing it at that point where it's a bit of an extreme sport and it's kind of dangerous. I found a place in Central America with great waves, Panama. The next step for me loving music was picking up the guitar, and the next step for me loving the ocean was in trying out a surf board. The reason surfers act like and are surfers is because it sort of is the best thing ever. It satisfies you on primeval levels, as well as every conscious level a person might understand.
Having lived in different parts of the world across the course of your lifetime, what do you think that experience has engendered in your perspective as an adult?
I think I don't suffer from any provincial mentalities. I sort of think, "Oh, this place is unique and really cool. So is the next place." So I don't ever prioritize one culture, and I don't hold any place up above any other place. I am very open-minded to [the fact that] places that I don't understand can reveal themselves to be wonderful for me. Whereas I think that if you don't travel a lot, you can close yourself off to that possibility.
But at the same time, having traveled a bit, there's totally places that don't speak to me, that I don't want to go to. There are parts of the world that I don't really give a shit if I ever see them. Whereas most other people are like, "At one point, I've really got to go there." I actually traveled there with my family. I'm not the kind of guy that loves the idea of traveling to exotic locations. I would rather find one and stay there.