Banks and Steelz

In a pairing few could say they saw coming, Interpol’s moody lead singer Paul Banks has collaborated with the Shaolin master himself, Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, for a new musical project they’ve dubbed Banks and Steelz. Apparently sounding like an arms manufacturer didn’t bother them when it came to deciding their name.

Banks and RZA first began working together way back in 2011, and started recording in earnest in 2013 on their debut album, Anything But Words, which is finally set for release on Friday. While they may come from disparate musical worlds, it makes sense in a way that that the two artists have found a kindred spirit in each other.

Both Interpol and Wu-Tang celebrated the gritty, after-dark urban feel of the place they call home — New York City. Banks sang longingly about the city’s subways being a porno and the pavements being a mess, and RZA once rapped that his rhymes were as a good as the city’s crack product.

The duo’s latest single, “Giant,” interestingly enough, doesn’t really reflect that broken-streetlight version of NYC. RZA’s delivery is a little menacing, but the beat is buoyant and urgent, recalling Outkast’s “B.O.B.” and Banks opts to ditch his monotone, Ian Curtis-like vocals for a more affected, appealing pitch. It’s an intriguing effort and bodes well for the future for a group that many will consider a one-off deal.

Although artists hate the term “side project,” you do get the feeling that Banks and Steelz won’t have the longest shelf life, which is as good excuse as any to see these guys while you can. They’ll be playing at The Independent on Saturday night (think of that—the dudes from Interpol and Wu-Tang playing in a small club.) It’d be wise not to waste the opportunity to catch this unlikely combination perform live.

Banks and Steelz, White Sea
The Independent
August 27, 2016
9pm, $25 (21+)