Paul Banks (American musician)

Paul Julian Banks (born 3 May 1978) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and DJ. He is best known as the lead vocalist, lyricist, and guitarist of the rock band Interpol. He released a solo album called Julian Plenti is... Skyscraper in 2009 under the name Julian Plenti, though his solo material is now recorded under his real name. As a singer, his voice lies in the baritone range.[1]

Paul Banks
Banks performing with Interpol in 2018
Banks performing with Interpol in 2018
Background information
Birth namePaul Julian Banks
Also known as
  • Julian Plenti
  • DJ Fancypants
Born (1978-05-03) 3 May 1978 (age 42)
Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, England
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • DJ
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • bass
  • piano
  • drums
Years active1997–present
Associated acts

Early lifeEdit

Banks was born in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, on 3 May 1978.[2] His family left England when Banks was three years old and moved to Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.[2] They then moved to Spain when he was around 12, and it was here that he studied at the American School of Madrid in Pozuelo de Alarcón before the family moved back to the U.S. to settle in New Jersey.[3][4] His father was later transferred to Mexico, where Banks finished high school at the American School Foundation in Mexico City.[5]

Banks was involved in stage productions during his time at the American School Foundation, playing the lead role in the musical South Pacific.[citation needed] As a result of his time in Mexico, he is fluent in Spanish and speaks the language with an accurately Mexican accent.[6][7] He later attended New York University, where he studied English and comparative literature,[8] and he worked at magazines such as Gotham[citation needed] and Interview after graduating.[9] He later took a data entry job at the Scholastic Corporation[10][11] and worked in a café[12] in order to devote more of his time to music and rehearsals.[13] He was inspired to become a musician by Nirvana.[14]


In the summer of 1997, Banks ran into fellow NYU undergrad Daniel Kessler, whom he had met previously on a study abroad program in Paris.[15] Kessler then asked Paul Banks to join the band he had started with drummer Greg Drudy and bass guitarist Carlos Dengler. Banks was initially not inclined to join a band as he had been writing songs as a solo artist, but eventually joined Interpol as a guitarist and vocalist after listening to the type of music they were writing and playing.[16][11]

Banks' voice, singing style, and lyrics have been strongly compared to, most notably, Ian Curtis of Joy Division.[15] Banks has said that he does not try to emulate his greatest influences because he thinks he cannot live up to them, saying "I would never try to sing like Frank Black or Kurt Cobain because you just can't do it."[17]

Beginning with the recording Interpol's fifth album, El Pintor, Banks has assumed bass duties.[18] In the music video for the album's lead single "All the Rage Back Home", Banks can be seen playing a Fender Precision Bass.

Solo projectEdit

Banks claims to have multiple solo projects under various monikers. On 4 August 2009 Banks released solo album Julian Plenti Is... Skyscraper under the name Julian Plenti, followed by a five-song EP Julian Plenti Lives... on 26 June 2012.[19][20]

On 6 August 2012 Banks announced his second full-length studio album, self-titled Banks,[21][22] which was released on 22 October 2012. In 2013 he released his own mixtape[23] Everybody on My Dick Like They Supposed to Be, which included contributions by Talib Kweli, El-P, High Prizm and Mike G.[24]

Other projectsEdit

In June 2016, Paul Banks and RZA announced a joint album Anything But Words as "Banks and Steelz",[25] with guest appearances by Kool Keith, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, Masta Killa and Florence Welch.[25] Two singles were planned: "Love + War" and "Giant".[25]

On 5 March 2020, Banks announced that he was forming a new band, Muzz, with Matt Barrick (of the Walkmen and Fleet Foxes) and Josh Kaufman of Bonny Light Horseman. The band also released their first single, "Bad Feeling."[26]


Banks using a black Les Paul Custom guitar during an Interpol concert

During Interpol's early years, Banks typically played a black Les Paul Custom guitar.[27] He then started using a Fender Jaguar (primarily due to the use of the tremolo in songs such as "Pioneer to the Falls") and a Gibson Flying V (which, for a time, had the word "breasts" spelled out in white tape on it)[28][29] for songs from Our Love to Admire, and used his Les Paul for songs from Antics and Turn on the Bright Lights, although some songs like "Obstacle 1" were played with the Jaguar because of the impracticality of switching. Songs like "Mammoth" were recorded using his Les Paul for this same reason.

Banks used his Jaguar as his primary guitar for the end leg of the Our Love to Admire tour, and was also seen using a Gibson ES-135 for songs such as "Not Even Jail", but since the 2010 tour leg he has not been since using the Jaguar or ES-135 and has only been seen using his traditional black Les Paul in live settings. His Flying V, with the white tape now removed, can be seen in the music video for "Barricade". His ES-135 was his primary guitar during his live performances as alter ego Julian Plenti. In the 2010s, during live performances of his solo work, he began playing a Dave Murray signature Fender Stratocaster with two humbucker pickups and a middle position single coil, possibly to avoid having to change guitars between songs for the diverse sounds on his solo records. In terms of bass guitars, he has been seen using a black Fender Precision Bass with a maple fretboard.

According to one source,[27] Banks has used effects pedals such as the BOSS TU-2, Z.Vex Super Duper 2 in 1, EHX Micro POG, MXR Micro Amp, MXR Bass Octave Deluxe, Way Huge Swollen Pickle, Ibanez TS9DX, BOSS DN-2, and 2 MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay (one set at higher repeats). His pedalboard on the Julian Plenti tour consisted of a BOSS TU-2, Way Huge Aqua-Puss, BOSS DN-2, EHX POG 2, Blackstar HT Dual Tube Distortion, and an MXR Carbon Copy. Since 2004, he has used two Fender Pro Reverb amplifiers.

Personal lifeEdit

In contrast to Interpol's melancholic indie rock sound, Banks has been a fan of hip hop since he was a child and has worked as a hip hop DJ under the pseudonym DJ Fancypants.[30]

In October 2012, Danish supermodel Helena Christensen referred to Banks as her boyfriend.[31] In July 2018, Banks confirmed that they had split up after a long-term relationship.[32]


Solo releasesEdit

Studio albumsEdit

List of studio albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions

US Indie



Julian Plenti is... Skyscraper (as Julian Plenti)
  • Released: August 4, 2009
  • Label: Matador
103 1 16 70 81 81 171 18
  • Released: October 22, 2012
  • Label: Matador
175 7 41 75 38 75 103 17
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


Title EP details Peak chart positions

Julian Plenti Lives...
  • Released: June 26, 2012[42]
  • Label: Matador


Title Year Peak chart positions Album
"Fun That We Have"[44] 2009 Julian Plenti is... Skyscraper
"Only If You Run"[45]
"Games For Days"[46] 14
"The Base"[47] 2012 43 Banks
"Young Again"[48]
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


Banks & SteelzEdit



  1. ^ "Interpol | New Music And Songs". MTV. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  2. ^ a b Harrington, Richard (5 November 2004). "Interpol, Dressed for Success". The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  3. ^ Kuipers, Dean (25 September 2003). "Interpol calling". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  4. ^ FaceCulture (2 November 2012), Paul Banks interview (part 1)
  5. ^ Magallanes, María José (2009). "A Picture of Success". Focus. American School Foundation. p. 35. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  6. ^ "Interpol Eye Up The Indie Crown". ShortList. 8 December 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  7. ^ "INTERPOL / Paul Banks - Entrevista Rolling Stone". YouTube. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  8. ^ "Julian Plenti - Julian Plenti Is...Skyscraper - Album review - Time Out Chicago". Time Out. 13 August 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  9. ^ Murphy, Tom (27 November 2012). "Paul Banks on the joys of getting "Logic-ed up" in his hotel room instead of liquored up on tour". Westword. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  10. ^ " Exclusive: Interpol". MTV. 31 July 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  11. ^ a b Goodman, Lizzy (1 August 2017). Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001–2011. Faber & Faber. ISBN 9780571337996.
  12. ^ "FILE UNDER...NEXT BIG THING". Entertainment Weekly. 14 June 2002. Retrieved 24 August 2009.
  13. ^ Johnson, Neala (27 February 2008). "Interpol singer Paul Banks talks about fame and music". Herald Sun.
  14. ^ "Paul Banks (Interpol): "Os Nirvana são a razão que me levou a ser músico"". Blitz. 12 November 2010. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  15. ^ a b "Interpol: Princes of Darkness". Rolling Stone. 14 October 2004.
  16. ^ LLC, SPIN Media (April 2005). SPIN. p. 67.
  17. ^ Umbrella TV (22 July 2005). "Interview with Interpol's Paul Banks". Google Videos.
  18. ^ Foster, Matthew (15 July 2014). "No Hidden Agenda: The Return Of Interpol". The Quietus.
  19. ^ Alex Knott. "Interpol's Paul Banks covers Sinatra on new EP". Frost Magazine.
  20. ^ "Julian Plenti Lives... EP". Julian Plenti. Archived from the original on 10 May 2012.
  21. ^ "Paul Banks lamenta no haber grabado concierto de Interpol en México".
  22. ^ "Julian Plenti Lives...EP". Matador Records. Archived from the original on 1 July 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  23. ^ "Paul Banks: Everybody on My Dick Like They Supposed to Be Album Review". Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  24. ^ "Mixtape featuring El-P, High Prizm, Mike G and Talib Kweli". Archived from the original on 20 April 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  25. ^ a b c Lilah, Rose (9 June 2016). "RZA and Paul Banks Team up". Hotnewhiphop. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  26. ^ "Interpol's Paul Banks Forms New Band Muzz, Shares New Song". Pitchfork. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  27. ^ a b "Rig tour: Interpol". MusicRadar.
  28. ^ "Stylish and shy, Interpol left a lasting mark". 31 July 2007. Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  29. ^ "Interpol at the Orbit Room, Grand Rapids, MI, July 27, 2007". 2 August 2007. Archived from the original on 1 March 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  30. ^ Pitchfork Media (6 August 2007). "Interpol's Paul Banks Interviews with Pitchfork". Pitchfork.
  31. ^ "Helena Christensen, Queen of the Runway". Wall Street Journal.
  32. ^ Smyth, David (6 July 2018). "Interpol interview: 'We've never made a record that didn't have some strange things on there'". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  33. ^ "Paul Banks – Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  34. ^ a b "Paul Banks – Chart History: Heatseekers Albums". Billboard. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  35. ^ "Paul Banks – Chart History: Independent Albums". Billboard. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  36. ^ "Paul Banks chart history". Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  37. ^ "Paul Banks albums (Flanders)". Ultratop. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  38. ^ "Paul Banks albums (Walloon)". Ultratop. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  39. ^ " - Discographie Paul Banks" (in German). germancharts. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  40. ^ Peak chart positions for albums in the United Kingdom:
  41. ^ Peak chart positions on the UK Independent Albums Chart:
  42. ^ "Julian Plenti Lives... - EP by Paul Banks on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  43. ^ "Paul Banks – Chart History: Mexico Ingles Airplay". Billboard. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  44. ^ "Fun That We Have by Julian Plenti on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  45. ^ "Only If You Run by Julian Plenti on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  46. ^ "Games for Days by Julian Plenti on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  47. ^ "The Base - Single by Paul Banks on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  48. ^ "Young Again by Paul Banks on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved 15 June 2020.

External linksEdit