Paul Banks

Full Discography

  • Banks - OLE-979 - 2012-10-23
Singles & EPs
  • Julian Plenti Lives… EP - OLE-990 - 2012-06-26


Identity’s a tricky thing in the annals of rock music. Whether David Bowie’s chameleonic mindfucks in the ‘70s, Dylan going electric, or Lou Reed’s perpetual metamorphoses, rock thrives on persistent flux in self-presentation.

Where does Paul Banks fit into this equation? As Interpol’s frontman, he’s largely been a cipher. While certainly not lacking in charisma, albeit in a steely and often sardonic manner (his dry, wicked sense of humor is largely lost in interviews), he’s often polarized and confounded listeners and critics alike.

Banks’ first ostensibly solo album found him assuming the alter ego of Julian Plenti. He jettisoned the nom de plume for this semi-eponymous album, Banks, credited to Paul Banks (as was its preceding EP). And where 2009’s Julian Plenti Is…Skyscraper was culled largely from songs pre-dating Interpol (as far back as the mid-’90s), Banks – with all new material written in the past few years (with the exception of “Summertime Is Coming”) – is a vivid documentation of Banks in the here and now, and his most abjectly personal work to date.

“I suppose I wanted to simplify this time around,” he explains. “Julian Plenti was something that I had to do, but once it was done, I didn't need to hold on to it. I didn't want the burden of shtick for these songs. If anything, I'm trying to draw attention away from the notion of a persona this time. I'm just making music and hoping to let it speak for itself.”

But aside from the peripheral aspects germane to every artist, listening to Banks is a revelation, a catharsis. From the pulsating opener “The Base,” which finds Banks catatonically crooning, “Now and then I can see the truth above the lies/Now and then, oh, I feel those beauties this life belies.” It’s one of his most disarmingly direct lyrics to date, heartfelt in a barbed manner far removed from his often detached anomie with Interpol.

“I do think that in some sense there are more direct lyrics on this album, and there is some purging and venting happening,” says Banks. “I suppose it was therapeutic. ‘Over My Shoulder’ has earnest intimations as well as some spiritual mumbo-jumbo. All of which comes from an honest place with no snark. I haven't made much of an effort to be clever here. Just to be honest about my mood and perhaps to confess a little.”

The quixotic, wistful “Young Again” is a standout, a gorgeous number that kicks off with a delicate, deceptively simple yet transfixing guitar figure, before blooming into a dense, orchestrated chorus that finds Banks ambivalently bellowing, “Because I’m young again/Thanks a lot/I feel young again/Rah Rah.”

He explains, “The feeling there is one more of elation than melancholy. The lyrics depict an adolescent mind-set. Crazy absolutes that I used to feel when I was a teenager — ‘jobs are disgraceful’ — and as the lyrics came to me, I was reveling in feeling that headspace again. And in another way, it was perhaps a kind of epiphany, a sort of, ‘Wait a second, right now I truly give zero fucks what anyone has to say about me. I'm like Bender from The Breakfast Club’ which was how I felt when I was 18. That headspace doesn't last. But it felt good for those ten minutes when I was writing the song...and when I sing it, it always feels good.”

The two instrumental numbers are crucial ingredients to this gestalt puzzle. The elegiac “Lisbon,” which sounds like Mogwai in subdued mode, is a welcome come-down from the invective gravitas of “Young Again,” while “Another Chance” is a schizophrenic, near chamber-pop ditty, with a contrite monologue from Banks’ friend Sebastian Ischer’s film Black Out, as the protagonist pleads, “There’s something wrong with my brain” as if it’s simultaneously a plea for forgiveness and a scathing personal indictment.

This affinity for found sounds and borrowed dialogue is evident throughout Banks. He says, “I use found sounds in all my recordings. Inspired from hip hop. Using audio snippets from disparate sources instantly gives a song an eerie depth, transcendence. I can't sum it up, and I can't get enough.”

Perhaps the most visceral, invective and immediate song on Banks is “Paid for That,” with a sinewy guitar line recalling Folk Implosion’s “Natural One,” who are actually name-checked in the lyrics (“Changed by Folk Implosion/When I was 17”) until it metamorphoses into a full-blown cacophonous chorus redolent of Nirvana circa In Utero, as Banks biliously wails, “I paid for that/And now you’ll pay me back.”

“I referenced Folk Implosion because it's honest,” says Banks. “One song by the Boo Radleys, ‘Upon 9th and Fairchild,’ influenced me more than any band or genre that is ever mentioned in relation to my work. Shit, so did ‘Babe I'm Gonna Leave You’ or ‘Nights in White Satin’ or ‘Riders on the Storm.’ But I'm tired of caring what people think I actually consider an influence. And ‘Paid For That’ is my rage song, kinda my way of getting past all the frustration. I almost took that name-check out because of fear of people harping on it. But I left it in for the kids growing up today, and for the kid in me.”


From 1998 to 2003, Julian Plenti performed in and around Manhattan as an acoustic solo artist. Venues that played host include Tobacco Road, Pete's Candy Store, The Knitting Factory, The Living Room, and "Lach's Antihoot" at Sidewalk Cafe.

In 2006 Plenti began to demo a selection of his music using Logic Pro. That selection took shape as "Skyscraper."

In the Fall of 2008 Mr. Plenti took the demoed album to the Seaside
Lounge in Brooklyn to be re-recorded with live instrumentation.

He hired session performers to play the string and horn arrangements, and also enlisted some friends. Mike Stroud of Ratatat and Charles Burst of The Occasion guest on "Skyscraper;"
Sam Fogarino of Interpol plays drums on "Games For Days;" and Striker Manley of Stiff Jesus appears on "No Chance Survival" and "Fun That We Have."

Plenti will be playing select shows in support of Julian Plenti is Skyscraper.

News From The Matablog

Paul Banks Drops Mixtape featuring El-P, High Prizm, Mike G and Talib

Just in from the department of unexpectedness.... Banks (no, not Lloyd) has upped a mixtape and it's called EVERYBODY ON MY DICK LIKE THEY SUPPOSED TO BE.

Actually, we kinda knew this was happening.  Paul sent over a rough mixtape about 9 months ago of his beats and production and it was genius. And what, with all the Kendricks and the A$APs and whatever, we thought a mixtape would take Banks to new heights if we got it out months before release. But the long-standing issues with Matador and the rap game quickly blew up our pre-release hype strategy.  Long story short, we have earned a certain "cash-only" rep in the hip hop world requiring us to either send briefcases handcuffed to interns to studios deep in Flatbush or.... call in favors which takes time. In this case, Paul called in a some mega-favors and got features from El-P, Talib, Mike G, and... hold up, HIGH PRIZM (né High Priest).

(Programming note, I've spent the entire morning doing things to all sorts of websites that we aren't ever allowed to do.  I AM DARKTOOB. And I feel like Dean Bein.)

Listen to the whole thing over on Soundcloud: The El-P cut entitled "Quite Enough" has been excerpted for those needing "an entry point". And you can download it at all Datpiff:  

Paul Banks reschedules New York show for December 14

Paul Banks is rescheduling his New York show at Webster Hall, originally set for November 13, to December 14. Paul's statement is below.

Hello to all,

Regrettably, we are going to postpone the Nov 13th Webster Hall show. 
The show will be rescheduled for December 14th.
Tickets that have already been purchased are of course valid, or refundable. 

Needless to say, we were VERY excited about rocking out for our hometown crowd. But it will just have to wait.

Basically, Sandy managed to disrupt the preparations that are necessary to put on a good concert.

Again, I apologize for any inconvenience this causes any of you.

But I hope to see you ALL in December. You bring your cherubic faces, and I will bring the rock.

Paul Banks

For tickets, check this link:


Tonight : Paul Banks On CBS' "Late Show WIth David Letterman"

photo : Losanjealous 

Pending apocalypse or not, Paul Banks will be performing tonight on CBS's "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:30 pm, eastern US, 10:30 central). Dave's other guests are Denzel Washington and Pauley Perrette.  The former is unlikely to be asked any questions about "Heart Condition", but if that really bothers you so much, go start your own talk show.

Paul Banks on Sirius XMU this week

(photo by Helena Christensen)

Paul Banks lovers with subscriptions to the popular Sirius XM satellite radio platform have multiple chances this week to hear a very special live performance of songs from his just-released solo album, Banks. The session premieres tonight at 9:00PM EDT on Sirius XMU (channel 35), and re-airs at the following times on the following dates:

Thursday, 10/25 at 4:00PM EDT
Friday, 10/26 at 9:00AM EDT
Sunday, 10/28 at 12:00 noon EDT

Now that you have no excuse not to check out Paul on Sirius XMU, allow me to remind you that you have no excuse to miss Paul and his band if you live in one of the cities below.

Saturday 03 – Austin, TX – Fun Fun Fun Fest
Friday 09	- Washington, DC – The Howard Theater
Saturday 10 – Philadelphia, PA	- The Trocadero
Tuesday 13 – New York, NY – Studio @ Webster Hall
Thursday 29 – Las Vegas, NV – House Of Blues (Las Vegas)
Friday 30 – Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory

Saturday 01 – San Francisco, CA – Slim’s
Monday 03 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues San Diego
Wednesday 05 – Los Angeles, CA – The Fonda Theater


Paul Banks: album out now and "Young Again" video premiere

Interpol frontman Paul Banks' solo album Banks is finally out and available for purchase on vinyl, CD and internet web-file.

Also, the album's awesome first video, for "Young Again", premieres today. The video was directed by Sophia Peer (full video credits below):

Please also check out a terrific interview with Paul from our friends at SPIN.

Paul and band will hit David Letterman this coming Monday - set your DVRs.

Finally, Paul's upcoming US tour is a-brewing. Those who caught recent shows in LA and New York advise: do not miss this.

Saturday 03 - Austin, TX - Fun Fun Fun Fest
Friday 09	- Washington, DC - The Howard Theater
Saturday 10 - Philadelphia, PA	- The Trocadero
Tuesday 13 - New York, NY - Studio @ Webster Hall
Thursday 29 - Las Vegas, NV - House Of Blues (Las Vegas)
Friday 30 - Santa Ana, CA - The Observatory

Saturday 01 - San Francisco, CA - Slim's
Monday 03 - San Diego, CA - House of Blues San Diego
Wednesday 05 - Los Angeles, CA - The Fonda Theater

Video credits:
Aidan Zusin, Kalea Harriot, James Robbins, Alexa DeFilippis, Alexander Maximilian, Jayden Brown, Ben Gleidman, Abbe Schluties
SWEET TEACHER - Susie Simpson
MEAN TEACHER -  Roberta Kirschbaum

DIRECTOR - Sophia Peer
LINE PRODUCER - Natasha Giliberti
EDITOR - Isaac Royffe
1st AC (SHOOT) - Doug Durant
1st AC (CHECK-OUT) - Matt Manning
DIT - Chad Rupnarine
GAFFER - Graeme Dempsey
KEY GRIP - Garrett Cantrell
SWING - Ralph Milone
STYLIST - Kate Stein
HAIR & MAKEUP - Celina Santory
ART DIRECTOR - Lauren Nikrooz
ART ASSISTANT - Annie Sicherman
PRODUCTION ASSISTANTS - Jake Honig, David Miller, Adam F Johnson, Bryan Henshcel, Jinnie Lee
CHILD MINDER - Nicole Schreit
POST/VFX PRODUCER - Chavvah Stuart
SPECIAL THANKS - St. Francis De Sales School for the Deaf, Kayla Arroyo, Jess Cohen, Chavvah Stuart, Adam Levite, Ron Winter, Winston Holmes Case, Christopher Keyes, Gabe Spierer, Claire Taylor, Michelle Cameron, Alexis Powell, Yelena Dyment, Guy Harriot, Maureen Robbins, Allison Lucas April Gibson Cheryl Brown Diana Gleidman Jennifer Schulties


Maria Bartolillo

(click for high resolution)

Tour dates