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Paul Julian Banks (born 3 May 1978) is an English-American musician best known as the lead singer, lyricist and guitarist of the band Interpol. He is also a solo artist under the name Julian Plenti. As a singer, Banks' voice lies in the baritone range.

Early life

Banks was born in Clacton-on-Seamarker, Essex, Englandmarker. His family left England when he was three years old, moving to Bloomfield Hills, Michiganmarker, and then to Spainmarker where he attended the American School of Madrid. His father was later transferred to Mexicomarker, where Banks finished secondary school. There he attended the American School Foundation, where he was involved in theatre productions, and played the lead role in the musical South Pacific. He speaks fluent and almost perfect Spanish with a Castilian and Mexican accent.

After high school, Banks attended New York Universitymarker where he studied English and Comparative Literature, and after graduating, he worked at magazines such as Gotham and Interview. Banks later took a job in data entry, and then in a café, in order to devote more of his time to music.

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


Banks joined the band in 1998 when he ran into Daniel Kessler, whom he had met on a study abroad program in Parismarker. When first asked to join Interpol, Banks initially refused, but after listening to the type of music they were writing, Banks joined.

Banks' voice, singing style and lyrics have been strongly compared to, most notably, Ian Curtis of Joy Division. A journalist from NME magazine even staged a joke at one of Interpol's concerts, trying to summon the spirit of Ian Curtis with a ouija board and make him say that Banks owed him. Many have also drawn similarities to Richard Butler, lead singer of The Psychedelic Furs, and Patrick Fitzgerald from Kitchens of Distinction. But Banks protests that the comparison merely forces influences onto the band in an effort to describe their music style. He has also stated that he does not try to emulate his greatest influences because he thinks he can't stand up to them ("I would never try to sing like Frank Black or Kurt Cobain because you just can't do it").

Solo project

In May 2009, it had been confirmed that Banks would release a solo album under the name Julian Plenti. The album is named Julian Plenti is... Skyscraper and was released on August 4.


During Interpol's early years Banks typically played a black Les Paul Custom guitar. He currently plays a Fender Jaguar and a Gibson Flying V (for a time with the word "breasts" spelled out in white tape on it) 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" are now played with Banks' Fender Jaguar because of the impracticality of switching. Paul Banks now uses his Fender Jaguar as his primary guitar and he has also been seen using a Gibson ES-135 for songs such as "Not Even Jail". His Gibson ES-135 is also his primary guitar during his live performances as his alter-ego Julian Plenti.

His pedalboard includes:
  • Tube Works Real Tube Overdrive
  • Pro Co RAT
  • BOSS GE-7
  • MXR Micro Amp
  • BOSS CS-3
  • BOSS DD-5
  • BOSS TU-2
  • BOSS MT-2

Along with fellow bandmate Daniel Kessler, he uses a Fender Twin amplifier.

Since Antics (2004) he uses a Fender Pro Tube Pro Reverb amplifier.

Personal life

Banks was in a long-term relationship with Vice magazine photographer Abbey Drucker since his days in NYU. The couple split sometime before the recording of Interpol's third album, Our Love to Admire. He then started dating Danish model Helena Christensen. The couple have since split up.


External links

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