Paul Banks understands the profound influence of listening. “The reason I play the guitar is ‘Dream On’ by Aerosmith. I listened to a lot of music before that and that was at pre adolescence, but that was the song that triggered the spark to where – oh shit now I’m obsessed with music.” Banks was raised on the radio and his father’s favorite albums, and Saturday, September 1st he came to the Sonos Studio to share moments from a lifetime of listening.
Banks first talked Saturday’s intimate audience through the covers included in his new EP – Julian Plenti Lives – from Sinatra’s “I’m a Fool to Love You” to the lesser-known Running Man theme song, “Perimeter Deactivated.” Also included in the EP was a cover of “Mythisizer” by Banks’ beloved hip-hop producer, J-Dilla. Said Banks, “I tried to reconstruct some of what he did and in doing so gained a greater appreciation of what he did.” That seemed to be a theme throughout Banks’ recent effort: imitation as the finest form of flattery. In the second half of his “Dream On” anecdote, Banks tells “And I would listen to that song every day on the way to school, on a loop, and like every free moment I would listen to fuckin’ ‘Dream On.’ My pops used to play guitar so I had a guitar around, and I went and grabbed one of his and tried to learn that song and ultimately he had to show me how to play it. But that was kind of why I became a musician was because I was so into that song that I had to get closer to it somehow other than just listening to it until the tape broke. The next level of getting close to that material was to try and play it on guitar.”
Banks’ appearance was part of the third cycle of the Sonos Studio series Fidelity. He stands as a man who has managed to steer his love of listening from something perhaps most parents fear as a gateway to the terribly untoward. He’s been rewarded richly through rock and roll. And although he’s taken on many forms throughout his many musical lives, on Saturday, Banks was himself. When asked about the future of the Julian Plenti alter-ego, Banks had this to say, “The idea of the [Julian Plenti Lives] EP was to let people know in advance of doing a record under my own name that Julian Plenti lives. The alter ego thing was a way that I had to do my first record, and during the second record, I no longer had that need…so yeah I have no idea what will happen with the alter ego.” After a brief listening session and Q&A, the band joined him onstage and played through tunes from both Julian Plenti albums.
Sonos is on a path to redefine the new normal for music listeners and lovers everywhere. Banks certainly sees the light, saying about the Sonos Studio, “As a way to market speakers this is a super clever thing to do, to get real music guests to come in and play. Definitely a good thing.” As part of the Paul Banks Sonos Studio performance, we’ve included the listening session playlist he created for the event here, available through Rdio.
Watch this intimate portrayal of Paul Banks as he prepares for his first solo shows since Interpol and talks about how he got started playing music at the Sonos Studio: