Paul Banks (musician, born 1978)

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This article is about the lead singer of U.S. band Interpol. For the Shed Seven guitarist, see Paul Banks (musician, born 1973).
Paul Banks
Interpol - Rock am Ring 2015-9006.jpg
Banks in 2015
Background information
Birth name Paul Julian Banks
Also known as
  • Julian Plenti
  • DJ Fancypants
Born (1978-05-03) 3 May 1978 (age 38)
Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, England
Origin Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, United States
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • DJ
Years active 1997–present
Associated acts
Notable instruments

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

Early life[edit]

Banks was born in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex.[2] His family left England when he was three years old, moving to Bloomfield Hills, Michigan,[2] and then to Spain.[citation needed] His father was later transferred to Mexico, where Banks finished high school at the American School Foundation,[3] where he was involved in theatre productions, and played the lead role in the musical South Pacific.[citation needed] He speaks Spanish fluently.

After high school, Banks attended New York University where he studied English and Comparative Literature,[4] and after graduating, he worked at magazines such as Gotham and Interview.[citation needed] Banks later took a job in data entry,[5] and then in a café,[6] in order to devote more of his time to music. Banks was inspired to become a musician by Nirvana.[7]


Banks joined the band in the summer of 1997 when he ran into Daniel Kessler, whom he had met on a study abroad program in Paris. When asked to join Interpol, Banks initially refused, but after listening to the type of music they were writing, he joined.

Banks' voice, singing style, and lyrics have been strongly compared to, most notably, Ian Curtis of Joy Division. 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".[8]

Since the recording of the newest Interpol album, El Pintor, Banks has assumed bass duties; in the new music video for the song "All The Rage Back Home" Banks can be seen playing a Fender Precision Bass.

Solo project[edit]

Banks released a solo album under the name Julian Plenti on 4 August 2009 entitled Julian Plenti Is... Skyscraper. Banks claims to have multiple solo projects and monikers in mind. He released a five song EP entitled Julian Plenti Lives... on 26 June 2012.[9][10] His second full-length studio album, Banks was announced on 6 August 2012[11][12] and was released on 22 October 2012.

In addition to the full-length albums, Banks self-released a mixtape[13] entitled Everybody on My Dick Like They Supposed to Be in 2013, which included contributions by Talib Kweli, El-P, High Prizm and Mike G[14]

Other projects[edit]

In June 2016, Paul Banks and RZA announced a joint album Anything But Words as "Banks and Steelz",[15] with guest appearances by Kool Keith, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, Masta Killa and Florence Welch.[15] Two singles were planned: "Love + War" and "Giant".[15]


During Interpol's early years, Banks typically played a black Les Paul Custom guitar. He then started using a Fender Jaguar and a Gibson Flying V (for a time with the word "breasts" spelled out in white tape on it)[16][17] for songs from Our Love to Admire and his Les Paul for songs from Antics and Turn on the Bright Lights, although some songs like "Obstacle 1" were played with Banks' Fender Jaguar because of the impracticality of switching and songs like "Mammoth" were recorded using his Les Paul for the same reason.

Banks did use his Fender 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 Gibson ES-135 and has only been since using his traditional Les Paul, though the Flying V can be seen in the music video for "Barricade" with the tape no longer present. His Gibson ES-135 was his primary guitar during his live performances as his alter ego Julian Plenti. Recently, during live shows of his solo work, he has been playing a Fender Stratocaster with two humbucker pickups and a middle position single coil possibly so he doesn't have to change guitars between songs for the diverse sounds on his solo records. In the studio, Banks has been seen using a black Fender Precision Bass with a maple fretboard.

His pedalboard includes:

  • 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
  • 2 MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay (one set at higher repeats)

His pedalboard on the Julian Plenti tour:

  • BOSS TU-2
  • Way Huge Aqua-Puss
  • BOSS DN-2
  • EHX POG 2
  • Blackstar HT Dual Tube Distortion
  • MXR Carbon Copy

Since Antics (2004) he uses two Fender Pro Reverb amplifiers.

Personal life[edit]

In contrast to Interpol's smooth and melancholic sound, Banks has been a fan of hip hop music since he was in seventh grade.[18] He has worked as a hip-hop DJ under the pseudonym DJ Fancypants.[18]

In an October 2012 interview, former supermodel Helena Christensen described Banks as her boyfriend.[19]


  1. ^ "Interpol | New Music And Songs". MTV. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  2. ^ a b Harrington, Richard (2004-11-05). "Interpol, Dressed for Success". The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 December 2013. 
  3. ^ Magallanes, María José (2009). "A Picture of Success". Focus. American School Foundation. p. 35. Retrieved 24 June 2015. 
  4. ^ "Julian Plenti - Julian Plenti Is...Skyscraper - Album review - Time Out Chicago". Time Out. 13 August 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2009. 
  5. ^ " Exclusive: Interpol". MTV. 31 July 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2009. 
  6. ^ "FILE UNDER...NEXT BIG THING". Entertainment Weekly. 14 June 2002. Retrieved 24 August 2009. 
  7. ^ "Paul Banks (Interpol): "Os Nirvana são a razão que me levou a ser músico"". Blitz. 12 November 2010. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  8. ^ Umbrella TV (22 July 2005). "Interview with Interpol's Paul Banks". Google Videos. 
  9. ^ Alex Knott. "Interpol's Paul Banks covers Sinatra on new EP". Frost Magazine. 
  10. ^ "Julian Plenti Lives... EP". Julian Plenti. 
  11. ^ "Paul Banks lamenta no haber grabado concierto de Interpol en México". 
  12. ^ "Julian Plenti Lives...EP". Matador Records. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  13. ^ "Paul Banks: Everybody on My Dick Like They Supposed to Be Album Review". Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  14. ^ "Mixtape featuring El-P, High Prizm, Mike G and Talib Kweli". Retrieved 2014-04-19. 
  15. ^ a b c Lilah, Rose (June 9, 2016). "RZA and Paul Banks Team up". Hotnewhiphop. Retrieved June 9, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Stylish and shy, Interpol left a lasting mark". 31 July 2007. Retrieved 18 July 2009. 
  17. ^ "Interpol at the Orbit Room, Grand Rapids, MI, July 27, 2007". 2 August 2007. Archived from the original on 2012-03-01. Retrieved 18 July 2009. 
  18. ^ a b Pitchfork Media (6 August 2007). "Interpol's Paul Banks Interviews with Pitchfork". Pitchfork. 
  19. ^ "Helena Christensen, Queen of the Runway". Wall Street Journal. 

External links[edit]