Tracks

Interpol: "Song Seven"

(2005)

By Amir Nezar | 9 January 2008

So, you’ve like, heard all this shit ‘bout how Interpol has this “secret weapon” and how that so-called secret weapon may involve two guys called “Sam Fogarino” and “Carlos D” a.k.a. Carlos Denglar, and you’re probably wondering what is up with all this “rhythm section” nonsense, and you may have heard one jackass mention seeing Interpol at their “fathomless heights among the stars,” and been like “what the shit” is fathomless heights, and what does it have to do with this secret weapon, and what is anyone trying to say anyway? Are we talking about a band here?

The rhythm section of this band – the combination of bassist Carlos D and Sam F – is ridiculawesome, because of something that they understand that like, almost nobody else understands, and that is that the bass guitar is historically meant to support the drums of a group. Hence the label “rhythm section,” because, you guessed it, a bass guitar is meant to be an element in rhythm, not some jack-off guitar-riff remora, whatever that means. But what “supporting the drums” means is that a bass line can serve a number of rhythm-enhancement purposes – mostly by creating pace between beats, or fleshing out the beats by adding a melodic coat to them.

But so anyway, this “Song Seven,” retardedly-named though it may be, is like a free lesson to newbies who want to figure out what a bass line and a drumkit can do together. It also gives a glimpse into why Interpol’s bass work and drumkit combined are called their “secret weapon”; the song opens with chiming melodic guitar plucks, fronting the band’s bread-and-butter haunting atmospherics, but finds its real drive when both kick-drum and bass guitar give it rhythmic backbone. Listen, though, to that bass and drum interaction: when Sam Fogarino gives the tempo a momentary pause, Carlos D. lets his bass-note linger, kicking his plucks back in when the beat resumes its hungry push. When Fogarino lets his hi-hats do a little sixteenth-note hot dance, D picks up his fretwork and throws down the bass acrobatics that make him one of the best going.

It’s not just interesting to see these two playing off of one another so skillfully. It’s a matter of contrasting dynamics; by giving their rhythm solid melodic bass strength, they can create an arresting, layered melodic rush with their guitars and vocal lines, which build upon that essential rhythmic play. Which is why Fogarino and D are the band’s “secret weapon.” Of course, Kessler and Banks throw in the solid vocal lines and guitar work to make the whole thing superb; but what “Song Seven” showcases so well is the perfect alignment of the band’s bass and drums to drive their work.

If all that’s too boring, well then, I’ll put it simply: the song is fantastic.