It's been more than five years since the critical frenzy began over Interpol, the New York City band that emerged from the same post-post-punk cauldron as the Liars and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
If fellow Big Apple denizens Radio 4 and The Rapture joined the Gang of Four, then Interpol marched in lockstep with Joy Division, with a side of Bauhaus and early Cure. The simple but meaty basslines, tinny guitar shards and dark keyboards all hearken back to that classic era in '79, and hardly anyone in rock sounds more like the dearly departed Ian Curtis than vocalist Paul Banks. But for every aging punk-era boomer who declared Interpol a blasphemous rehash, there were 10 Gen-Yers saying, "Joy who? Is that the 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' dude? Whatever."
By sticking with Matador Records for both 2002's acclaimed Turn on the Bright Lights and 2003's steady climber Antics, Interpol retained the indie cred that instant radio whores like The Killers and The Bravery never possessed, despite all the dramatic posing and coy '80s stylishness. Antics became the best-selling album on Matador in a coon's age, landing three top-40 hits in the U.K., and the band spent 18 months on the road promoting it (without ever stopping in our fair city).
Something else happened in those five years. Though his musical role was minimal compared to guitarist Daniel Kessler, bassist Carlos Dengler became the band's heartthrob, with his German/Latin looks and remarkable resemblance to Crispin Glover. Wearing boots, suspenders and a gun holster on stage (sans piece), "Carlos D." conformed more to the Joy Division aesthetic than anyone else in the band. Figuring his own notoriety was enough, Dengler has played solo DJ gigs without the "from Interpol" tag, and has kept in the public eye with his decidedly epicurean lifestyle.
But even Dengler would love to ascend to the same arena heights as Coldplay, U2 or Pearl Jam (all of whom the band has opened for in Europe). And with the new album Our Love to Desire moving in a more atmospheric direction, it seems possible. When Banks sings, "I don't want a piece of history ... I don't want a taste of victory" on the single "The Heinrich Maneuver," I doubt it means he wants to be dropped by the band's new major label, Capitol.
At least Interpol are no longer avoiding Pittsburgh. And Carlos D. should be happy to know he'll be playing the very stage where admirers overwhelmed Morrissey 22 years ago. Will history repeat itself?
Interpol with Calla. 8 p.m. Tue., July 24. Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $36. All ages. 412-456-6666