Thursday, January 14, 2016

On Carlos D and Interpol

Written enroute to Utah:

I grew up listening to Interpol. My first interpol concert was when I was 16, at St. Andrews in the D with my brother Feraz. I felt like Paul Banks was looking right at me at times, typical fan I was.

Turn On the Bright Lights is such a good, classic album. A rare album where every song is a gem. What a force. What a statement. It will always be one of my faves, and "Obstacle 1" just gets me moving and emotional every single time I hear it. Every single time.

The follow-up album Antics was good as well, but didn't have the same impact. I saw Interpol live two more times in college. Interpol and MIA are the only acts I've seen live, 3x each, both during my college years in MI.

I was so infatuated with Interpol, that in the summer of 2006, when I was doing summer internships in New York, and thus, living in the city for the first time, this happened: I was broke, yet again. I was passing out flyers for some Anglophile party, funny enough. It was July, night time, hot, I had been listening to Interpol once again for weeks on end; everyday Paul Banks's voice feeding my mind. That night, on that corner in the Lower East Side, Paul Banks walked right in front of me. Right in front of me. He was wearing all black, and a black hat, of course, in the middle of summer. Stunned, I grabbed his shirt as he passed by me. Hahahaha.

Stupidly: "Are you Paul from Interpol?" I knew that he was, I just, that just blurted out. Hey, I was genuinely starstruck!
I think he either nodded or said "Yes." He looked quite amused. Maybe its the only time a hijabi girl has grabbed his shirt.
I told him how much I loved his band and his music. How much I really, really loved Interpol.
He asked me my name and I answered. Then he shook my hand and went on his way. Despite being broke as a joke and not having a great time in New York in those days, that chance moment made my summer.

I've encountered celebrities since then, but that interaction is the most memorable and meaningful for me.

Of course, the other band members were so interesting too. Sam's drumming, is like no other on those albums. Daniel Kessler with the crazy feet during the live shows. The guys would frequently smoke cigarettes as they performed their killer songs, which seems very impossible, including Paul, the singer! But they pulled it off.

And then of course, Carlos D. Oh…Carlos D. What a man, what a look, what talent. What stage presence. He just looked awesome in those days, purely amazing. His bass-playing is I think what made me first fall in love with bass so much, and I still think its the instrument with the sexiest sound, and the one I've always wanted to learn. Carlos has a lot to do with that. His work on those albums is just excellently phenomenal. Yes, he deserves all these words.

sexy Carlos D back in the day, doing his thing
And to think, he didn't even wanna become a musician. As revealed in this rare and revealing interview below which I somehow stumbled upon a few weeks ago.

Interpol's third album had bad reviews. I think I have it somewhere, or I might not. I gave it a listen and was done. That happens with me a lot, when it comes to music. I can really dig a band's first album or two, but then when the third album comes and the bad reviews hit, I stop paying attention, and I only listen to their earlier work that I love. Even if later albums are said to be good, I just can't be bothered to check it out. Interpol. the Strokes, MIA, the Stills, I'm sure there's several others, that I've done this to.

Though, I've heard Interpol's last album really deserves to be checked out, so I will.

Anyway, back to Carlos. Here are some really interesting passages. Carlos ditched the band 6 years ago and hasn't looked back since. He's now an actor. He's a completely different person! So much love and respect to Carlos :-) I love you man and your work! Please don't hate me coz I'm a fan from your Interpol days.

"At some point in time, I think the moment for me, and it’s funny to think that this is the occasion for it, but when Coldplay— our old manager was Coldplay’s manager— when they played Saturday Night Live, he offered us tickets. And when I felt so much titillation and excitement over all the skits— Jon Hamm was the host— and looking at how they were being performed. And then when Coldplay came on, I felt bored, quite frankly. I knew then that there was something going on with me, some kind of identity shift, really. It really troubled me."
- I think its funny what he says here about Coldplay. I also stopped liking Coldplay around this time, after I went to one of their concerts I think in 2005. I just couldn't handle all the sappiness. I've been done with Coldplay since then.

"You had this very distinct style of dressing back when you were in Interpol, and you look very different now. Everything has shifted. I don’t think I would have even recognized you had I not known. Have you had an identity shift like this before?
Yes. That’s another thing. I’ve been a chameleon from day one. As soon as I got skillful at that sort of image making, I started to feel that image as a constricting suit of armor and I’d have to change it immediately."
- Funny, I'm going through a change as well I think, in my look. Not as major as his, but its a shift.

"Sure, I love telling myself that I should have continued along with my scholarly pursuits and that was the plan, then it got derailed by Interpol. This is a very attractive story to me. But that’s not really the story. And most people don’t really give a shit about me, they care more about the music that has changed their lives, or the music that has affected them to some extent. That’s the story that they’re emotionally tied to. So my own kind of, “You need to know I was on my way to being a scholar,” it’s peripheral. And I try to remind myself of that when I get too caught up in what I want to do and what I want to get done."
- Sorry Carlos! I'm probably one of those people.

Here's the full read:

Here's his website:

And turns out he just wrote about Bowie for Pitchfork:
Carlos Dengler, now

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Row your boat

The new David Bowie release got me thinking about streaming this past week.  I was discussing the album, and how certain reviewers make me feel  like just going out and buying albums before I've even heard a single track.  The same thing was happening with the Bowie album:  All the chatter about it, and the positive press, got me considering just going and getting it and listening to it afterwards.  Something good may have come of that decision as I may have given it more attention if I'd went through with a proper purchase -- I was looking forward to going to the record shop, picking it up, listening in the car, and so on.  But instead I decided to listen to whatever tracks were up on youtube and ended up finding the whole album there.  So then I just streamed it, and it was OK, but, for now at least, I lost the urge to buy it.  I think that streaming cheapens music too much in that regard -- with streaming I literally invest nothing in the music, so I can just take it or leave it, not really pay it a whole lot of attention.  I think some very good work probably gets short-changed that way.

As for the Bowie, Petridis says it's proper jazz, not just a band with some horns.  He also thinks the music is quite avante garde.  This is another possible problem with reviews, they can really send your expectations in a certain direction.  Thankfully, in this case I think Petridis overstates the case a bit -- to me this sounds exactly like a good but normal band trying a little too hard to be "different" -- or maybe the spectrum of pop music is so wide now that something like this album ends up sounding quite normal, in a good way.

I may have issues with streaming, but I'd say modern changes to the way I consume music have overall made things better.  I heard this BC Camplight track on 6 music via my phone, and then found it on Soundcloud  for this blog.  Because of that I heard the rather nice track by Amason, who I'd never heard of otherwise.

Speaking of 6 music, the Chemical Brothers were on that over Christmas for a three hour show.  It was good, just a nice show with chatting and music and mixes.  The Chemical Brothers came across as very current, which is kind of remarkable for a 20 year old dance music act.  But even though they talked about things from the past, to me they didn't seem like one of those  nostalgia acts that are around.  They seemed like a relevant act who happen to have been around for a long time.  It was good, made me happy for them.  The show's worth checking out for some of the mixes and remixes, especially the Tom Rowlands remix of Doves' Kingdom of Rust.  Six years in the making apparently!   That mix is the last half hour of the show, or you can hear it by itself here.   The old tracks have held up very well -- I'd love to see these guys live again.  Fun fact: I ended up buying Q tip's solo album after listening to the show; you'll have to listen to the show to find out why though.

Lastly, earlier today my wife and I were discussing the lack of diversity amongst Islamic scholars, the best known of whom are basically all men.  We agreed that there must be well qualified women out there who just aren't being given the opportunities that men are, which is very problematic, for multiple reasons.  I think when someone like my wife identities a problem like this, they have to act.  Which, of course, brings to mind the Streets: