Interpol's Sam Fogarino: "Miami Is Where I Learned How to Do What I Do"

Before Sam Forgarino provided the beat for Interpol, one of the biggest (and best) indie-rock bands of the past decade, he was a fixture of our city's punk scene.

As a member of one of the area's most underrated bands ever, the Holy Terrors, Fogarino has deep musical roots in Miami. His local experiences were transformative, and the man credits some specific South Florida relationships for his success.

We here at Crossfade spoke with the drummer and songwriter about how the Holy Terrors' Rob Elba, Rat Bastard, Churchill's Pub, and Miami "showed me the way."

See also: Interpol's Sam Fogarino on El Pintor, Recording at Electric Lady Studios, and "Spontaneity"

Crossfade: Is coming back home to play Miami still as big a deal for you as when Interpol first took off?

Sam Fogarino: Yeah, it has been ever since I started doing it over 12 years ago. Miami is where I learned how to do what I do, you know? So, yeah, it's always a big deal.

You gave an interview for the Little Haiti Rock City documentary on Churchill's Pub. I find myself frequently having to explain why that place is so special and important to the uninitiated.

Yeah! It's just such a weird oasis. I think that only makes it more unique, considering where it is -- where it's situated. It's so bizarre for that kind of place to exist in that kind of neighborhood. Things don't last that long anymore. You can kind of compare it to what CBGBs used to be, in a way. It kind of had that same vibe to it, where you should be afraid to walk in, you know? But when you do walk in, you're wrapped in empathy. To quote myself, it was the forum for things way to the left. Like Rat Bastard! I mean, what the fuck!?

See also: Churchill's Pub: An Oral History

It's almost more difficult to explain the reality of Rat Bastard than the reality of Churchill's.

Totally. Yeah, he's hyperreal. It's crazy. I kind of owe him my career. Between him and Rob Elba, my old bandmate from the Holy Terrors, I wouldn't have a clue. Those guys kind of showed me the way.

South Florida's bands all evolve on their own terms and do not care if anyone else, particularly the national scene, is paying attention. Was it that way when you were a part of this scene too?

No, they don't. And they never did. That's kind of self-inspired in a way. Every band that takes themselves seriously wants to get the hell out of there. But at the same time, it's kind of too hard to leave, and not just geographically -- it yields such a surreal lifestyle. It's almost like you had David Lynch write the script.

I couldn't wait to go, and then I kind of nailed New York, and I realized, "Man, this ain't subversive. There isn't anything here that can come close." That's where the freaks are, in the best possible way -- they're back at Churchill's!

Even under the new ownership, the freaks remain.

Yeah, it's painful. But Dave deserved a break, you know? Pure and simple, man. He need not explain himself. It was decades of living in the back, living where you work -- nobody can say that! He deserves everything good that might be coming to him.

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Interpol. With Hundred Waters. Saturday, November 8. Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets cost $32.50 plus fees via All ages. Call 305-673-7300, or visit

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David Von Bader