Interpol’s Daniel Kessler Gathers Some Characters

The band's guitarist/vocalist spins a stormy, playful playlist

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The band Interpol formed in the late ’90s, while the members were students together at NYU. Their dark, minimalist sound made their debut “Turn On the Bright Lights” one of the defining rock albums of the early 21st century, and they haven’t faded since. Now they’ve released their fifth LP, “El Pintor.” Daniel Kessler, guitarist and vocalist for the band, took a break from their ongoing tour to spin us this dinner party playlist.


Daniel Kessler: Hey, this is Daniel from Interpol, and I’m here to host a dinner party tonight.

Link Wray, “Rumble”

I think a good one to launch a dinner party would be Link Wray’s “Rumble.”  A personal favorite song of mine, and it just kind of sets the tone for… many things in life. It could start a night out at like a club or at a bar, but I figured it sounds good just off your home stereo — like on a nice hot summer day or something like that. The windows are cracked open, and you’re kind of still cooking a little bit, and you’re pouring yourself a cocktail and getting things going. I feel like it’s setting the table.

And it just has this sort of really menacing feel to it, like something stormy just walked through the door. Even the name, ‘Link Wray’… I’ve always been kind of fascinated by the name ‘Link Wray.’ It’s beyond human in a way. It just feels like, “Link Wray — what is that?”

Tappa Zukie, “Pick Up the Dub”

I guess the second track… it’s very, very difficult to figure out which ones are going [on this playlist], and I’m not really doing this as a ‘perfect mix’ as much as… you know, I would like these characters be a part of my dinner party.  And I’m a big dub fan — big dub music fan. And one person I really fell for is Tappa Zukie. I think the name of the record is “Pick Up the Dub.”

Again, mostly instrumental, this song. It’s about atmosphere and vibe and playfulness in terms of production, and it just kind of lightens and brightens up the room.

I would say dub is a relative of reggae, but it’s a bit more about the production. There’s usually a bit of manipulation. There’s a lot of reverb, or delay. The sound almost has a little bit of an “elastic” feel to it. I also find it to be one of the most relaxed forms of music to listen to — it’s great for travelling when you’re on the road. But I also find it’s a mood-setter, either really late night, or going from dusk to nighttime.

Sly and the Family Stone, “If You Want Me to Stay”

This was a very hard choice, figuring out what the third one was gonna be. For a second I was gonna do a Miles Davis track off of “Sketches of Spain,” because I just really love that record… that’s a tangent to say I’m not gonna play that song!  I wanted to get that in there so you know I was thinking about it, but then it would have been three instrumental tracks, and maybe that’s one too many.

So, the wildcard I think I’m gonna do is Sly and the Family Stone’s “If You Want Me to Stay”.

You know, this song I feel has just got levity in a different way. I fell in love with this track when I was in high school, and for the most part in high school I listened to super underground hardcore stuff that’s really the opposite of this. But this song, really I just fell in love with it.  And you know I heard it actually not that long ago, and I was just like “Oh man — this song still sounds great!”

The actual music itself I think is just kind of very steady. It’s not about making a gigantic shift to a chorus — it’s just the whole song is catchy.  And in some ways I think it had a bit of an influence:  I’ve always been sort of fascinated by songs that I love, but then upon closer inspection you’re like, “Oh, man — there’s really not many changes!” They’re giving you a sense of — an illusion of —  change.

Interpol, “Same Town, New Story”

As far as our music for a dinner party… I think I’m gonna go with a song a song called “Same Town, New Story.”

This song, we had the structure, but we were missing a vocal line and the bass line.  And for a while I thought, “Well maybe it’ll be an instrumental, maybe it’ll be a B-side, and that’s totally cool.” And then Paul wrote a really great bass line and the vocal line. The next morning I listened to what he had done, and I was sort of floored. The groove of the whole song, the bounce of it, it’s kind of a good way to sort of tie up the whole dinner party.