Caffeine, cinema fuel Interpol 

As a keen-eared composer, Interpol guitarist Daniel Kessler says many aesthetic ingredients went into his quartet’s self-titled new fourth set.

One was the 1960 anniversary-model Gretsch, hooked up to a vintage Princeton amp, he employed to sketch angular tracks like “Lights,” “Barricade” and “Safe Without.”

“At the time, I was living in a New York City apartment with really high ceilings,” he says. “It was a combination of the echoey loft space and this big, bellowing, bad-in-a-good-way guitar that put me in the right atmosphere and just really helped me write the songs.”

But Kessler — who brings Interpol to The City today — has two other tried-and-true methods for sparking creativity.

Every morning, his missus makes herself scarce while he switches on a classic mood-setting movie, then settles down with his ax to await inspiration, armed with the other trick of his trade — a cup of the richest possible coffee he can find.

“I am a coffee snob,” he says. “I just really appreciate the investment of good coffee and the way it makes you feel, versus a terrible cup of coffee that leaves you all jittery and incapacitated for a while.”

If Interpol’s last record, “Our Love to Admire,” played like sweeping Cinemascope, “Interpol” flickers past like grainy film noir.

Kessler can’t recall every last flick he studied to achieve such textural darkness — “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” is the only one he can pinpoint — but he never forgets the java.

“It’s something I take quite seriously,” he says. “And when we’re traveling, too, I like to find out where the good coffee spots are. Those are the little victories of touring, the little pleasures of experiencing some place new.”

The espresso fiend says his favorite roastery in San Francisco is Blue Bottle.

“I went to the one that’s just off Market Street, and it took me forever to find,” he says. “But it’s great, because individually brewed cups of coffee are the best, and that place was worth the wait. And it’s also in a great little spot, in a really beautiful building, so it’s a pleasure to just sit there, have a cup of coffee, and read the paper.”

Occasionally, Kessler has tampered with his formula, testing tentative Interpol-shadowy chords on his new piano, without TV. But once it’s on, he says, “I realize that there’s a reason why this has always worked — films provide just the right amount of inspiration, stimulation and distraction for me. And at the start of the day? I’m still all about that first brewed cup of coffee!”



Where: The Warfield, 982 Market St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. today
Tickets: $32.50 to $39.50
Contact: (800) 745-3000,

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Tom Lanham

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