Red Light Management

Paul Banks Tours His Bright East Village Apartment

October 4, 2018

Age 40

Occupation Musician; lead vocalist of the rock band Interpol

Location Manhattan’s East Village

His Favorite Room: When he’s not at his beach house in Panama, Mr. Banks lives in a one-bedroom apartment in a converted textile factory, with 10-foot-high iron-frame windows you’d expect to find in an artist’s loft (indeed, he also paints). Even though Mr. Banks briefly lived in Jersey City, he said, “what I found is that I wind up in this neighborhood every day of my life.”

A rare Fender guitar bought in Panama, where Mr. Banks has a beach house. CreditDevin Yalkin for The New York Times

Interpol recently released a new album, “Marauder.” Did you write the songs here?

As Interpol, we write in rehearsals. But I definitely can make music here. I have a neat little device that allows me to plug a guitar and microphones into my laptop. My homework is lyrics, and to be honest, I do more of that on the beach.


What’s the story behind that Fender guitar?

This I found in a shop in Panama that sold air-conditioners and lint filters and had two guitars for sale. It’s a rare model. I had to have it. It’s got a triple humbucker, which is crazy.


Mr. Banks also paints, though his subject interest is limited: “All I paint is faces.” CreditDevin Yalkin for The New York Times

So much of modern art is abstract. I like that you paint and collect portraiture.

All I paint is faces. I have my easel here by the window. I mostly paint character actors from B movies in the ’80s and ’90s. My favorite painting is of the last guy that Sylvester Stallone arm wrestles in “Over the Top.” I like the dramatic lighting and I like what character actors exude with their expressions.

As a teenager listening to your favorite bands, what was your image of a rock star’s house?

I really didn’t have one. My dream as a teenager was a desk by an open window overlooking the ocean. I was on a trip in Spain, and there was just this cheap hotel that me and my friends were staying in. There was a desk by a window that overlooked the sea. I was just, like, well, this is it. I never thought about city life, tour buses, travel. Just a desk by the ocean.


Vintage audio equipment, along with a turntable Mr. Banks received as a 40th birthday gift. CreditDevin Yalkin for The New York Times

Some artists believe they need the energy of a city like New York.

I don’t need the chaos of the city to feed inspiration. I feel very inspired by sunlight and waves. I’m secretly a beach bum. If I were to live anywhere other than a beach, though, it would be New York. I’m not trying to trash my hometown.

Steven Kurutz joined The Times in 2011 and wrote for the City and Home sections before joining Style. He was previously a reporter at The Wall Street Journal and Details. @skurutz