We snagged a few moments on the phone with the Interpol guitarist before his band's show in Indy tonight at Old National Centre. You can expect Kessler and bandmates to find a choice spot to dine somewhere in the Circle City tonight before the show — the man loves good food. He co-owns well-reviewed small plates joint Bergen Hill in Brooklyn, and has a vested interested in several other hip NYC bars. Yes, we did talk about his band's new album El Pintor (similarly well-reviewed), but, perhaps because it was right around lunch, we got in lots of talk about food as well.
On being obsessed with food:
"I don't know what's wrong with me. I'm a little bit obsessed with food and stuff like that. I have some bars that I'm a partner in, that ar more in the cocktail side of stuff. The food one is that I have a restaurant called Bergen Hill in Brooklyn. That was something me and my partner conceived from scratch, from nothing, from the concept to the food. From the glass, all that kind of stuff. That's definitely a labor of love. ... For me, I don't know what happened. As a kid I was definitely afraid of food. I had a real phobia like, 'What's going to happen to me if I eat that green vegetable? Am I going to explode?' A real, real fear. In the last ten years, it seems like I went an entirely different direction."
On why he loves chefs:
"I was just back in Europe just for a handful of days last week. Most people I hung out with are in the restaurant industry or are a chef. I don't think that's by design; I think sometimes you go to different spots in your life. I have so many friends that are musicians, dear, dear friends. But it's nice to venture into new roads and new discoveries. I feel like when I'm having nice conversations with friends of mine who are chefs, we'll talk about each others' businesses, and what we do, but a lot of times we'll talk about other stuff in life. Maybe it's a pace or a temperament that is applicable, at least with me and people that I've encountered, where you have a similar sort of connection. I'm not sure. I don't even think of them as being chefs at that moment, or being in that trade, as much as these are just friends. ... I think it's also just the explosion of food culture in general, and restaurant culture. There's a radio blog show I did when I was out in LA called Food Is The New Rock. There's probably a little bit something to that in this day and age, right?"
On the music that's played in his restaurant:
"I started by doing a playlist, and so forth. I thought about it. It's a really small place, and we don't have a real kitchen. We have a chef present it. It's all seafood, and the chef presents it. He makes everything in front of you, almost like a sushi restaurant. He's cooking everything; we do have a handful of cooked dishes that he [finishes]. He's a pretty incredible chef. They're really creative with their limited space. But ultimately, I created this thing that I thought was a little bit more what I thought would work well in the space and not be too intrusive in conversation, but be a nice backdrop. But I think I definitely lost that one. It lived for a little bit, but you know, the chefs are the ones that are there, all day long. It means a lot to them to play what they want to play when they're working and so forth.
"Our chefs have pretty great personalities. They're characters. That's part of the fun of the restaurant, that they interact with the customers right in front of them. ... I listen to them. You can hear their heart behind it. Each one of their [dishes] is the first time. Ultimately, the [music] is a part of their personalities. So the music that they play sometimes, I'll think, 'Oh, really? Are we really playing "Sweet Child of Mine?" Really? Is that really what's happening right now? Can't we just play something else?' But I lose that one out. ... Stuff that I did not put on there that they do [play] that works really well that I would have loved to have done is old doo-wop stuff sounds great, R&B sounds great, even hip-hop sounds great in the space. I think music should be secondary; it should really be in the backdrop and should not interfer in the conversations and rival the conversations."
On El Pintor track "My Blue Supreme":
"I remember it was one of the songs that I was still working on the actual arrangement — usually I would get something in order, a tentative arrangement before presenting it to the dudes — and I was actually still working on the chord pattern and where it was going to go. And Paul was like, 'Hey, play that again!" I wasn't actually ready, but I [did]. All of a sudden Sam jumps in, and it took it's own [path] from there. It was part of how we were able to venture into this cosmic-ish, spacey vibe of the track. It's very atmospheric. I feel like maybe that first day or maybe second day with Paul sort of singing in that manner. It was pretty unique. I don't think we've ever done anything like that before. ... That song definitely has a special place in my heart."
On previous shows in Indianapolis:
"I remember we flew in that day from, I guess from Europe. Maybe that's where we started the tour. I remember we flew in that day, and it was a really beautiful day. I remember the venue being cool. I don't think it was the Egyptian Room, that's where we're playing next. ... I remember it being a really good vibe, and nice interactions between the audience and [us].