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COPS OF THE WORLD

What’s a better holiday present to yourself than a pre-Thanksgiving show from one of New York’s most beloved bands, Interpol? This year has been big for a band credited with redefining NYC’s rock sound in the early millennium. They returned to the festival scene, playing the likes of Gov Ball and Lollapalooza, and brought back their big hits like “New York,” “Slow Hands,” and “Evil” in time to support their new yet true-to-form El Pintor. Some time off did the band plenty of good, seeing as the response to their post-Carlos Dengler career has been nothing short of overwhelmingly positive. In concert, Interpol are sure to bring plenty of nostalgia for the New York of their prime, until we’re reminded that that time wasn’t too long ago.

Nov. 24-26, 8 p.m., 2014

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Getting Hi-Fi Love on Hi-Fi

The digital jukebox is a modern-bar mainstay, a strangely sterile presence in a sticky, moldy, and otherwise downtrodden place. It’s a weird little robot, benevolently aglow even when it’s without company, pushing its own buttons and eagerly awaiting the swipe of a drunk kid’s credit card before it dispenses the same two songs from Exile on Main Street in a whiskey-lubricated moment or delivers the latest Rihanna track. It overwhelms with its many choices, thousands upon thousands of singles available just beyond the sensitive surface of its touch screen. It’s a familiar and predictable presence, and the rate at which it has replaced the wax and ebony organs of its candy-hued, rusting ancestors is unfortunate.

Mike Stuto’s digital jukebox isn’t like that. It hasn’t been since 2002, when the indie-rock club booker quit the business and closed Brownies, his 200-capacity venue on Avenue A, which gave Bright Eyes, Spoon, The Strokes, Death Cab For Cutie, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, The National, and a three-volume list of other genre-defining indie musicians a stage in their early days. Brownies is where the New Pornographers played their first New York gig; Ryan Adams worked out the verses and progressions of Rock N Roll in the modest basement studio beneath Brownies’ floorboards before he laid its tracks down elsewhere. The space has reopened as Hi-Fi, the physical embodiment of Stuto’s relationship with rock ‘n’ roll. When The Hold Steady needed a place to watch their late-night musical guest debut on The Late Show with David Letterman, they invited a ton of friends to Hi-Fi to watch the prerecorded performance. Galen Polivka, The Hold Steady’s bassist, still tends bar at Hi-Fi when he isn’t on the road.

Stuto basically condensed his carefully curated record collection and the list of favorite bands he had amassed through booking Brownies and uploaded it to a rudimentary PC, and all of the aforementioned bands can be found on Hi-Fi’s jukebox, which sits immediately to the right of the door when you walk in. Unlike the new, Internet-assisted jukes, his doesn’t have everything, and he’s proud of that. Top 40 doesn’t really have a place here. Hell, the Hi-Fi jukebox can’t even pick up WiFi.

“I developed software and turned a regular home PC into a jukebox at a time when iTunes was still Mac only,” Stuto says.

It’s Saturday night before the bar fills up and the DJ arrives, and Stuto is taking a minute in the newly renovated back room, where he recently started booking acoustic sessions again. “I loaded about 1,800 albums’ worth of music on it, and it now has over 4,000 records, full albums. At the time, it was definitely unique and forward-thinking, the whole idea of having a jukebox with no Top 40 on it, and tons of indie records, with 20 classic Dylan records and 30 from the Stones. It was pretty exciting. In 2014? Not so much. A well-curated record collection doesn’t really seem to have the allure it did after Spotify and all the other abilities to find stuff to listen to came up. But even from the beginning, the bar was supposed to be a music-centric, music-snob kind of a place.”

Hi-Fi expanded beyond the rudimentary “stage, soundboard, and a couple of benches” setup of Brownies, though the establishment’s past life haunts the place: Patrons from another life squint while trying to figure out what happened to its previously ramshackle decor, and they try to pinpoint when the bar became plastered with record covers.

“Brownies has been closed for 11 years, and so people who didn’t really go to it very much but kind of know a bit of the legend or heard the stories about it [and] went to one show — those people [still] working in the business with any kind of influence, they’re the people who champion the bar,” Stuto says. “We’ve actually kind of had a bit of a resurgence just because it’s, like, ‘That guy’s still there!’ “

A look at the walls, staff, and clientele confirms this, especially on weeknights, when the late-night shows that were taped earlier that afternoon are finally broadcast, and the musical guests can down a pint while watching themselves on a TV outside of their hotel room or the apartment they’re crashing in while they’re in town.

Polivka is frequently working during these impromptu celebrations. “I’m glad it’s become a thing for bands to do there,” he says of the whole late-night viewing-party thing. “I’ve worked a bunch of them and met some very cool people. It’s surreal to see yourself on national television, especially surrounded by friends who can be very genuinely and touchingly excited for you.”

Hi-Fi has become a hamlet for labels, bands, publicists, and music fans who want to acknowledge the gravitas in the comfort of a home-away-from-home with the built-in audience to match. It’s especially rad that the guy behind the bar knows exactly how they feel and can pour accordingly.

“I didn’t go around to a bunch of bars that were successful, figure out what they were doing and copy it,” Stuto says of the Brownies/Hi-Fi transformation. “If I had an 1,800-square-foot living room, and I was able to have a lot of people hanging out in it, what would I do?”

The vinyl sleeves (which are empty) are culled from what’s left of Stuto’s collection — he sold most of it, and prefers to keep his music on an iPod — with sentimental picks mounted next to revered hits. “I thought it would just be cool to decorate my bar with pieces of my life,” he says, making a beeline for the front wall, which is explicitly reserved for Dylan and Rolling Stones titles. “There’s a Rush record I bought when I was 11. There was the first Kiss record my brother and I ever bought through the Columbia Record Club. My father got 12 for a penny and he let us pick one.”

It all comes together — the jukebox and its soundtrack, the records on the wall, the mix of old friends — and Hi-Fi’s been a bit of a muse for Stuto, in that it has revived a love of music for him that had flagged under the stress and responsibilities that came with booking a venue like Brownies.

“When I had a bar, it took me a while to realize that I could just be a fan again,” he says. “I got to the point [with Brownies] where I didn’t like music anymore, or I didn’t know how to like music anymore. If it’s something you love and you have to monetize it, it does fuck with it. Anything like that, you go through periods, especially if you see music as an emotional thing or connect to it on an emotional level. I definitely rediscovered my love for music and kind of became a college kid again with how I listened. I didn’t listen with an agenda anymore. I listened because I just liked music. I went through a period a year after Hi-Fi opened, where I was just in love with rock again. It wasn’t about telling bands you thought they were great because they brought a crowd and you wanted them to come back. There was definitely a difference in being a venue operator and [running] a bar. When I told people I was closing down Brownies and opening a bar, a lot of people were, like, ‘You’re not really a nice guy. You realize that people who run taverns like people.’ I was, like, yeah, that’s an interesting thought. But that changed my outward personality pretty quickly. I was happier.”

And the killer jukebox doesn’t hurt, either.

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’ELLO, GOV’NOR

What could possibly draw a crowd to this year’s Governors Ball after the rainy, muddy mess that was last year’s fest? Maybe it’s masochism, but most likely it’s the line­up, which is arguably one of the best this season. Featuring headliners OutKast, Jack White, festival darlings Vampire Weekend, and local heroes The Strokes, the shortlist doesn’t sound too diverse, but read deeper and you’ll find an array of excellent up-­and­-comers performing alongside festival vets over the course of the hopefully sunny weekend. We’re talking Grimes, Janelle Monáe, Lucius, La Roux, Tyler, the Creator, Skrillex, and Interpol, among others. Grab your cutest waterproof poncho and your sturdiest pair of boots, because even a little rain won’t stop this three-day party.

Fridays-Sundays, 11 a.m. Starts: June 6. Continues through June 8, 2014

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Paul Banks

It took Interpol frontman Paul Banks three years and his band’s indefinite hiatus for him to start recording under his own name instead of his Julian Plenti alter ego. He has said that the reason for the pseudonym was to distinguish the music he wrote before he was in Interpol from his recent works, but the truth is that his strident voice will always be the connecting thread. His latest, Banks, sounds like a more densely textured and ornamented variation on his usual themes. After all, that sort of subtle change is the one thing you can rely on from him, no matter what moniker he uses.

Fri., Dec. 14, 7 p.m., 2012

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Papa M

Dave Pajo was last seen around these parts holding down Carlos D’s old bass-player spot in Interpol. But now the former Slint/Tortoise/Zwan polymath is touring as Papa M, the solo guise under which he made some beautiful late-’90s/early-’00s post-rock records. Live from a Shark Cage is especially lovely; ask nicely for its “Roadrunner” tonight.

Sun., Sept. 9, 10 p.m., 2012

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WEMP’s Discovery Mission

My column last week lamented in part the loss of radio stations with playlists emphasizing new music of the non–Top 40 variety. Almost immediately after it went to press, one of the stations that I called out for flipping to a talk-heavy format—101.9, the former WRXP rebranded as the news station WEMP last summer—went back to a music-heavy playlist, calling itself “New Rock 101.9” and running promos apologizing for the short-lived foray into headlines, traffic, and weather.

In its first week, the station has taken an aggressive stance toward the “new” in its name. At the end of WRXP’s run last year, its playlists were becoming confused, with a fair amount of classic-rock fodder mixed in among the seemingly fewer-by-the-hour new tracks. WEMP, on the other hand, claims to be all about discovery; the back-announcing of tracks is accompanied by the electronic glitch that accompanies an answer from the iPhone’s virtual assistant, Siri (the female voice supplying the track’s names is a bit more human-sounding than its companion). This doesn’t mean that whoever’s programming the station is plumbing the stacks at Other Music for the latest acts that are big on the blogs—perhaps that’ll come later, with a Sunday-morning program hosted by one of this city’s many self-styled online tastemakers. But it does allow for some genuine surprises to pop up, even for professional music enthusiasts like myself.

And even for this jaded listener, that serendipity has restored a sense of whimsy to music, at least. Yes, songs like Gotye’s melancholy breakup track “Somebody That I Used to Know” and fun.’s still-anthemic “We Are Young” are in heavy rotation, just as they are elsewhere on the dial. (It wouldn’t be too surprising if the station’s parent company revealed that the crossover success of those two songs helped fuel this particular flip.) M83’s “Midnight City,” which finished fourth in the Voice‘s most recent Pazz & Jop poll, was by far the most-played song during the hours (and hours!) that I tuned in. Brand-new tracks by Green Day (the stomping “Oh Love,” which sounds less plodding with each listen) and the Killers (“Runaways,” in which the over-the-top Las Vegas act continues to straddle the line between Elton John pomp and shrinking-violet twee) were, as well, in heavy rotation. But a few other songs stood out:

fun., “Some Nights.” “We Are Young” remains a rallying cry for late-summer nights, but the title track from one of my favorite albums of the year has singer Nate Ruess showing off his formidable pipes—seeing them live at Terminal 5 earlier this summer was a joyous experience in large part because of the way he stuck the landing on each one of his vocal acrobatics—over a backdrop that balances Queen’s grandeur with herky-jerky percussion. The standout track on Some Nights is undoubtedly “Carry On,” a sing-along-ready anthem that’s equal parts emo lament, robust inspirational speech, and Irish drinking song. It should be a single, though probably in the fall, when melancholia is more likely to take over.

The Royal Concept, “Gimme Twice.” “Post-Phoenix” is sort of a funny concept to wrap one’s mind around, given that the more-sangfroid-than-thou French act only released its first album in 2000. But this single from an up-and-coming Swedish act possesses all of the hallmarks of that band—fizzy guitars, a jaunty beat, and lighter-than-air vocals that have just enough grit to avoid being called “fey.”

AWOLNATION, “Not Your Fault.” That this band is signed to the record-label imprint of the energy drink Red Bull didn’t surprise me after I heard their first single, the blustering “Sail.” Its marriage of storming electronics and Rock Dude Yelp (that specific brand of singing in which the vocalist sounds like his larynx was treated with acid immediately before heading into the studio) is the pop-song equivalent of a particularly nasty come down from that particular beverage. “Not Your Fault” is a peppier take on that formula, with a synth line that bounces alongside the lyrics’ postromantic-blowout apologia; lead singer Aaron Bruno’s voice still sounds like he has been gargling with pebbles on the chorus, but that relentless yelling is matched by a falsetto that’s almost touching.

Not all the new tracks hit the mark. Iceland’s Of Monsters and Men combine the hoedown stomp of Mumford & Sons with the synchronous triumphant yelling of the Arcade Fire in a way that sounds self-consciously in debt to those Grammy-winning acts, or at least to their accolades. And while the recurrents have provided me with a fair amount of glee (“Lump”!), some of the old tracks stick out like an oversucked thumb; that the noxious reggae-punk outfit Sublime is still getting played anywhere is a tragedy, with songs like the wearyingly “political” “April 29, 1992” immediately extinguishing any mood elevation offered by the selections it brackets. There are not many women in rotation, making the occasional appearance of Paramore even more of a delight. (Also, if you’re going to play the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “By the Way,” which pays, ahem, strong homage to the morosely muscular New York act Interpol at its outset before turning into fumbling funk-punk, you might as well stick a couple of classic tracks by the hometown boys into the rotation. “Obstacle 1,” maybe?)

New Rock 101.9 might not have very long to prove itself: The station’s parent company Merlin Media flipped its Chicago outlet, which had also been a former haven for “alternative” music before its switch to news, to a format with the soft-underbelly name “Adult Hits.” Meanwhile, up in Boston last week, the longtime alt-rock stalwart WFNX had its final broadcasts with its longtime staff after being sold by the Boston Phoenix to the radio megamonolith Clear Channel. And the station’s innovative spirit might seem like a lot of same-old same-old in six months, or even six weeks, should focus group outreach discover that, well, people don’t really want to hear that much new music after all. But for now, something new, or at least somewhat new to New York, is happening.

mjohnston@villagevoice.com

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The Secret History Sing Their Life

Michael Grace Jr. and his partner Andrea Vaughn had been making cassette tapes since they were teenagers, but their band My Favorite really started getting serious in 1999. By 2002, they had built enough of a following to headline a CMJ showcase at departed indie haven Brownies. Supporting them on the bill were two bands called Interpol and the Walkmen.

“They probably started six months prior. I went downstairs, and they had a hairdresser, a makeup guy, someone carrying their amps, and no one had ever heard of them,” Grace Jr. says, “and I said: ‘Aw, fuck. This is how you do it.’” Eight months later, Interpol were indie huge, and Grace was just “sitting there, reading Nine Stories or something.”

Once the Walkmen and Interpol broke, managers and record-industry hangers-on came out of the woodwork to convince My Favorite that if they tried hard enough, they just might become the next Stellastarr*. Grace Jr. was into this idea—to a point. “It didn’t feel natural at the time, but sure,” he says over pie at the Brooklyn dinner Jimmy’s. “You get to that point where you don’t think there’s anything left to do but try.”

But with the way they blended John Hughes pulse of the Rough Trade catalog with the articulated longing of the Magnetic Fields and Belle & Sebastian, My Favorite had a tendency to be a little “too” for their times. Too post-punk when the indiepop world was on the ’60s-revival tip; too wistful and cardigan-clad when New York post-punk bands were suddenly in fashion—the right sound in the right place at the wrong time.

“Michael created worlds, cohesive and fantastic in ways that made you want to live in his songs. Very few bands can do this, but he really put forth a series of images and ideas through his lyrics that felt related from song to song, almost like a collection of short stories set in the same town. Joan of Arc, ghosts, saints, suburbia, record fetishism, loneliness, and an enduring faith that there was a way out, however unlikely, created this enveloping sense in me that I wanted to be in that world, to live in his dreams,” says the Pains of Being Pure At Heart’s Kip Berman, who’s on record as calling My Favorite’s 2003 album, The Happiest Days of Our Lives, one of his favorite records of the decade. “There is something daring and endearing in the way he wrote songs that took risks and stood apart—they captured an emphatic sense that this music was not made for everyone, but explicitly for people who felt there was nothing more important than three-minute pop songs that perfectly evoked the desperate, emphatic yearning they felt for a life beyond their bedroom, their self-doubt, or their imperfect bodies.”

My Favorite ended in 2005, when Grace Jr. and Vaughn’s relationship ended. “It really short-circuited the band at the height of its potential on some level,” he says. “But on another level, it’s sort of like James Dean dying while still handsome and dangerous—y’know, it didn’t stick around and become something that maybe I wouldn’t be happy about.”

He was already well into the next My Favorite album when the split happened. By that point, he had spent more than a decade in a well-liked—if never exactly popular—band, writing about beautiful losers and people who love music harder and longer than what some would say is healthy. When asked if he ever thought that the break would have been a logical opportunity to get a regular job, he chuckles. “Have you been talking to my mother?” he asks. “I always thought I wanted to do another band. My heroes were always novelists and painters and people like that never stop because they weren’t 20 anymore, y’know?”

Most of the musicians from My Favorite stuck around after the breakup, and Grace Jr. found a new foil in these pages. “I halfheartedly began perusing The Village Voice classified section for bands looking for a singer,” says Lisa Ronson, daughter of David Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson. “Michael’s ad came with the title ‘Tragic Female Singer,’ and when I saw the list of influences included David Bowie, Mott the Hoople, Bob Dylan, the Smiths—all people my dad had worked with—I thought: ‘This is it. This has to be the one!’”

The Secret History’s 2010 debut, The World That Never Was (Le Grand Magistery), was a tight collection of Smiths-’n’-Sebastian pop. They’re finishing a resolutely immodest followup titled Americans Singing in the Dark; the characters are based on different people Grace Jr. met in New York, with each song’s aesthetic—from aggro-punk to smooth Sade soul—being informed by the music that character would have enjoyed. Grace Jr. says he pictures all of the album’s characters playing its songs on a bar jukebox. “I do think that if all of the aesthetically adventurous bands stop caring about telling stories and all the bands that tell stories only sound good on NPR, we’re in trouble,” he says. “So I’d like to kind of find some third way.”

Some of the songs are about close friends (he had to talk one into letting him use his nickname in a song by arguing for the importance of art); some are people he played one show with then watched cry into their hands backstage; others are composites. “I was quoting Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan when one of the characters gets called out for lying about this person he met, and they say, ‘They’re just a composite, like in The New Yorker.’ Quoting Whit Stillman movies probably underlines the ceiling of our band’s potential success,” he notes wryly.

All the characters, though, have one thing in common: struggle.

“I realized how much struggling my friends and people from my generation, even some of the younger people that we had met playing shows. . . . There was always kind of a longing that was being unfulfilled,” he says. “And I really thought that these guys really do tell a certain story about America, and I’ve always been a guy that had a lot of European influences in terms of the music that I listen to. So I liked the idea of writing about America, even if some of the bands I like are not like that. I wanted to make an album about America because I felt like America was kind of in a crisis, but a lot of indie music wasn’t about that.”

The band’s members are hashing out as much as possible in their home studios, then recording as much as possible during day-long sessions at New Pornographer producer Josh Clark’s studio, then sifting through the sessions to make sense of it all. Because everyone in the band has jobs, they have limited ability to tour, so they’ve had to fund the making of this album with their own savings and sales of their recent single “Sergio,” which Grace calls a “hazy class-warfare anthem.” The band used the crowdsourced-funding platform Kickstarter to help out with touring costs last time, but that pin hasn’t been pulled yet.

What label releases the record is also up in the air. “The amount of money that labels are going to give you is a lot less than it used to be,” Grace notes, “because they can only actually sell, I don’t know, 20 percent of the times people are actually getting their music? You know, the idea of artists bartending and waiting tables to write books or make films is nothing new, so we don’t mind working and scraping and putting it together.

“Has it slowed down the progress of making the record? Absolutely. But you kind of have to have some inner peace about that.”

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‘Shortcuts’ w/ El-P+Despot

One of the original architects behind the noisy, confrontational hip-hop records espoused by the likes of Odd Future, Company Flow rapper and producer El-P also deserves credit for putting on some of the most engaging hip-hop concerts. Maybe it’s his enthusiasm, maybe it’s the sonic bass booms that rattle him across the stage, or maybe it’s just the way he’s always in motion, but El-P has a certain intangible quality that makes him a born MC. Tonight, he’s celebrating the release of his third proper, uh, LP, Cancer for Cure, which boasts guest spots by members of Interpol and Islands, as well as tonight’s opener, rapper Despot.

Mon., May 21, 8 p.m., 2012

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RED-LIGHT DISTRICT

If you’re in a band, and David Lynch agrees to collaborate with you, the first rule is that you don’t ask questions. In the case of Interpol, who hoped Lynch would create some visuals for their Coachella show last April, Lynch offered up a sketch of a funny-looking long-nosed creature hitting a red button. He called his creation “I Touch a Red Button Man.” Wisely, the band went with it, and the bizarre lo-fi animated short to accompany their song “Lights” was born. At IFC’s Movie Night With Interpol, drummer Sam Fogarino introduces the video, which is certainly the envy of all other bands, as well as a screening of Lynch’s 1990 Cannes-winning Wild at Heart, starring Laura Dern and Nicolas Cage as young lovers on the lam. A Q&A with Fogarino will follow.

Thu., April 5, 8 p.m., 2012

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Fall Guide: Interpol Return With Their First Record in Three Years

A number of things have changed in Camp Interpol since we last heard from these local gloom-rock dudes: In May, the band posted a note on its website announcing that fashion-plate bassist Carlos D had split in order to “follow another path, and to pursue new goals.” And after a brief stint in the major-label world, Interpol are back with Matador Records, the New York mega-indie that released the group’s first two albums. Interpol, the tellingly titled follow-up to 2007’s Our Love to Admire, is out this week.

“We’re not starting over again, but it’s like we’re coming in from the left this time,” figures drummer Sam Fogarino. “We sort of cleared the slate, and now we’re a bit refreshed.”

Even so, a number of other things haven’t changed so much. “I do get the feeling,” frontman Paul Banks says, “that unless you really, really listen to our music, you probably have the wrong idea about what kind of person I am.” What do all those shallow listeners think? “That I’m depressive, jaded, cynical, bitter, and pretty angry a lot of the time.” Ah, yes—that. “I’m really not this brooding, sad guy,” Banks continues. “But whatever. If people have this totally one-dimensional view, that’s fine. It’d probably bother me more if I weren’t so confident in our music.”

The singer comes by that confidence honestly: On Interpol, he and his bandmates manage the seemingly unmanageable task of finding new wrinkles in a tightly defined sound, one that’s been theirs for nearly a decade. Tunes like “Lights” and “Always Malaise (The Man I Am)”—um, Paul?—offer up minor-key melodies and mosquito-buzz guitars but take all kinds of weird structural detours that feel more downtown art song than Williamsburg indie rock. Banks says his goal was to give his vocals an immediacy that would allow listeners to navigate the “beautiful, mysterious” music Carlos and guitarist Daniel Kessler demoed and brought to him and Fogarino in early 2009.

(Carlos took part in recording the new album before leaving the band.) Says Fogarino: “This record is a slow burn—it gives back the more you listen to it.”

Our Love to Admire slipped by a lot of people,” says Matador founder Chris Lombardi. “But now there seems to be a genuine curiosity about what the band is up to. I think people care about Interpol again.”

In order to capitalize on that interest, the band is spending much of this fall on tour, including a November 5 headlining date at the United Palace Theatre and several European gigs opening for U2. Along for the ride in Carlos’s place are Brandon Curtis of Secret Machines (on keyboards) and bassist David Pajo, who, in addition to co-founding the semi-legendary post-rock outfit Slint, has played with Tortoise, Zwan, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, among other bands. “He was the only person we discussed,” says Banks of Pajo. “I listened to [Slint’s] Spiderland up the waz in high school.”

As for not having Carlos around, Fogarino admits that it’s been “kind of a relief not to have to deal” with what the drummer calls his former bandmate’s “self-cultivation as a persona.” (“I don’t want that to sound bitter,” he adds.) For his part, Pajo says his experience on the road so far has been “nothing but positive.” He’s especially impressed by the way his new pals have outlasted the cool-kid fervor that climaxed with their jump to the majors. “They sort of survived that hype bump, and that, to me, is where a band is set up for longevity,” he says. “They seem really liberated.”

Interpol, November 5, the United Palace Theatre, 4140 Broadway, ticketmaster.com

Fall Music Picks

The Damned Things
September 9
Bowery Ballroom

You may have heard that Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump is spending the emo band’s hiatus working on a soul-influenced solo album. And perhaps you’ve read about Black Cards, Pete Wentz’s new reggae-inspired outfit. Slightly lower-profile, though, is the other two Fall Out Boys’ side project, the Damned Things, in which guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley are joined by two dudes from Anthrax and two dudes from Every Time I Die. The tunes they’ve released online sound like late-’80s hair metal pumped up with late-’00s arena beats; an album is reportedly due before the end of the year.

Jay-Z + Eminem
September 13–14
Yankee Stadium

The two biggest rappers on earth are joining forces this fall for four concerts—a pair in Eminem’s hometown of Detroit and a pair here in New York. Though his dominion over his local subjects is not to be underestimated, Jay is advised to bring his A-game to the House Across the Street From the House That Ruth Built: Since its release in June, Em’s Recovery has been racking up the kind of superstar sales that just don’t happen anymore.

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Pavement

September 19

Williamsburg Waterfront

September 21

Central Park SummerStage

September 22–24
Rumsey Playfield

Is it just me, or does Pavement’s reunion feel like it’s been going on for ages? More than six months after they first got back in the saddle, the slacker kings of old-school indie rock are finally making their way to New York—and now that they’re here, they’re making sure fans get every opportunity to see what lovable rapscallions they remain. If you can’t decide which of these five gigs to catch, aim for the Williamsburg Waterfront, as Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis’s new band, Jenny and Johnny, is scheduled to open.

Atari Teenage Riot

September 23

Gramercy Theatre

“Music is a weapon,” CX KiDTRONiK announces at the top of “Activate!,” the first single from Atari Teenage Riot since 2000. So right away you know some things haven’t changed for this Berlin-based outfit, an early pioneer of what group mastermind Alec Empire rather descriptively dubbed “digital hardcore.” What has changed, though, is the context in which ATR operates: The band’s shows were once known for their random outbreaks of violence, but in an age of casual laptop-noise terrorism, can that reaction still be provoked?

Alice in Chains + Deftones + Mastodon

September 24

Madison Square Garden

Dubbed the “BlackDiamondSkye” tour after its participants’ latest albums, this hard-rock triple bill teams Alice in Chains with a pair of heirs to its sludge-metal legacy. Not that Alice is ready to give up the crown: Last year’s Black Gives Way to Blue, the band’s first effort since the death of former frontman Layne Staley, surpassed all kinds of commercial and creative expectations. But Deftones (supporting this year’s Diamond Eyes) and Mastodon (2009’s Crack the Skye) are both well suited to keep the gloomy spirit of “Them Bones” and “Man in the Box” alive.

Soulive
October 2

Terminal 5

Following a series of stylistic experiments that didn’t necessarily trigger the kind of mainstream breakthrough the band’s members might’ve been after, Soulive is back to its instrumental-trio roots these days, a retrenchment that’s hard to find fault with on Rubber Soulive, a just-released set of tastefully funked-up Beatles covers. Especially nice: the local outfit’s take on “Eleanor Rigby,” which somehow splits the considerable difference between death metal and elevator jazz.

Mavis Staples

October 6
City Winery

The gospel-music veteran wooed well-meaning NPR types in 2007 with We’ll Never Turn Back, a deeply felt set of civil rights–themed material produced by Ry Cooder; this fall, she’s set to scoop up more of their Paste-reading brethren with You Are Not Alone, which she made in Chicago with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. Beyond the Tweedy-penned title track, the disc includes covers of tunes by Randy Newman, Allen Toussaint, and John Fogerty.

My Morning Jacket

October 18–23
Terminal 5

My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James got his side project on last year, releasing a solo EP of acoustic George Harrison covers (under the name Yim Yames) and touring with Monsters of Folk. So perhaps this five-night stand is meant to assure MMJ fans that James hasn’t retired from his day job. Each show will find the Kentucky psych-jam band tackling a complete studio album from its catalog.

Phoenix

October 20

Madison Square Garden

How the heck did Phoenix get so big? Eighteen months ago, these French disco-rock dudes were probably dreaming of scoring an iPod spot; now, they’re headlining Madison Square Garden just like the real rock stars they’ve resembled for years. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, the wonderfully titled 2009 disc that broke the band wide, certainly contains its share of effervescent delights: “Lisztomania,” for instance, still hasn’t worn out its welcome. But it’s still a song about Franz Liszt. That’s weird, right?

The Corin Tucker Band
October 26
Bowery Ballroom

The former (and perhaps future) Sleater-Kinney frontwoman spent the latter half of the ’00s concentrating on her family, but this fall, she’s returning to public life with 1,000 Years, an album of new tunes credited to the Corin Tucker Band, which also includes Sara Lund of Unwound and Seth Lorinczi of the Golden Bears. It’s a quieter disc than any of Sleater-Kinney’s, with none of the psych-guitar fury of that band’s 2005 swan song, The Woods. But Tucker remains a startlingly incisive songwriter, no matter her subject.

Blonde Redhead

November 3
Webster Hall

After working through their initial infatuation with Sonic Youth’s boy-girl art-guitar skronk, these internationally minded locals hit upon a unique indie-noir sound that’s been Blonde Redhead’s own since at least 2000’s Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons. Their new one, Penny Sparkle, is synth-ier and less discordant than the several that preceded it, but it still resembles the work of no one else. Live, the band physicalizes the sexual tension between singers Kazu Makino and Amedeo Pace in a way that’s as arresting as it is uncomfortable.

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The Levon Helm Band
November 26–27
Beacon Theatre

Here’s something worth giving thanks for this Turkey Day: The man who already sounded like an old soul in 1969, when he sang “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” with the Band, is still recording and performing—and the results are as lively as anything 70-year-old Levon Helm did as a youngster. Expect this pair of post-Thanksgiving gigs to draw from 2007’s Dirt Farmer and last year’s Electric Dirt, but also from the history of American music; Helm’s roots go deep, deep, deep.