With the cover story in this week's Time Out New York, indie rock band Interpol is about to release their sophomore album, Antics, and embark upon a world tour. During that tour the band is guaranteed to reap a slew of publicity in magazines, newspapers, and trade press.
The major law of indie rock, however, is that the larger a band gets, the less its previously ardent fan base stays devoted. To try to counter that trend and keep those Interpol fans, its label, Matador Records, is renting small storefronts (dubbed "Space") in five major cities, where fans can listen to the new album, order exclusive singles -- and reclaim the band.
Interpol broke out in 2002 with Turn On The Bright Lights, which many adopted as a 4am paean to the insomniac, jittery New York City scene.
As radio embraced the band and friends hooked other friends on them, it went to a staggering (for a small label) 500,000 copies sold. The secret was out.
The Space location in New York, on the corner of Kenmore and Lafayette near the Lower East Side, will be open until the end of the CMJ Music Festival in mid-October.
Additional Space locations will be in Los Angeles, London, Paris, and Berlin.
Space came about when the label brainstormed potential marketing opportunities.
"We thought, 'What can we do to create some kind of excitement and cater directly to the fans?' said Nils Bernstein, artist liaison and director of publicity at Matador.
He adds: "Being an indie label, we were able to come up with a unique idea and see it through."
The result, as championed by label head Chris Lombardi, was Space, which Bernstein describes as "part gallery/part store/part advertisement." Bernstein said that the location confuses many people, and some are disappointed when they expect to be able to buy tickets or traditional merchandise.
Instead, fans get to hear the record before it comes out and listen to a music playlist created by the band, as well as have access to exclusive material, including CD singles featuring artwork from an artist the band selected.
"It's been going amazing well," Bernstein says. "Some people go in and hang out daily."
In New York, the space is somewhat covert, with only INTERPOLANTICS written on the bottom of the glass front. Adding to the mystique, the posters Matador has put up around NYC have a tiny map where the store's location is marked, but not identified.
"It's a secret, hip thing for people who go through the effort to find it," Bernstein said, adding that the label strove to keep it that way.
Outside of reenergizing the fan base, Bernstein said this sort of strategy was a good way to reconnect the public with the band in an age of digital detachment.
"People are so distant from the records and it's so quick and instant to download an album that every band is identical on iTunes," Bernstein said.
The Space location harkens back to the day when consumers sought out records and paid attention to the songs, he said.