The Strokes Interview – A Luck back at 2001

Fed up with the hype? You and The Strokes both. Stroke’s guitarist Nick tells Crud there’s more to The Strokes than seventies reference points and Lou Reed. Crud offers a look back at the highs and lows of 2001 beginning with an interview with Stroke fret-man, Nick Valensi.

Strokes guitarist, Nick Valensi seems a bit fed up describing his music and explaining the concepts and reasoning behind the sound of The Strokes. “What bothers me is when people stick to one thing,” he says, “They stick to the 70’s thing when there are a bunch of other influences that are obviously there. I don’t mind when they mention 70’s bands but I do mind when that’s all they mention.”

The Strokes have been hailed by many as the second coming of The Velvet Underground and critics have called them a throw back to the 70’s alt rock era with a modern rock twist, but Valensi insists that the band is much more than simply that. “I don’t feel like we got a 70’s vibe. I like to think it’s a little more timeless than that. Our goal was to always be really, really good and always get better. I don’t know how the whole sound and style happened, things just sort of fell into place, I guess. It’s not like we all sat down and talked about the direction our sound was gonna go in.” Valensi explains, “I don’t mind comparisons, in a way I think it’s good, ya know. Being compared to the Velvet Underground is cool because we were influenced by them.”

Like The Velvet Underground, The Strokes are a New York based band who earned their bones within the gritty NY underground rock scene and rose to the surface due to word of mouth, reputation and buzz. Although it is a worthy and highly complementary comparison, it just irks Valensi every time he hears his band being compared to the 70’s genre. “If that’s what people genuinely think then that’s cool; if that’s what they hear then that’s cool. But, it’s not for real, it’s not true that’s all I’m saying.”

In 2000, The Strokes broke in England after their 3-song EP “The Modern Age” became a huge hit in the U.K. “Yeah, we’re popular over their, we’re big and lot’s of people come to our shows, but it’s not like fuckin’ Beatle-Mania.” Says the very modest Valensi with a cynical laugh in his voice; “Our popularity in New York City is pretty comparable to how popular we are all over England.”

Popularity aside, The Strokes are a band of young men who are more interested in being taken seriously than in record sales or MTV acceptance. In fact, their first video for “Last Night” is deliberately low budget and low-tech and on promo pics they blatantly expose their acne, messy hair and unshaven grills as a sort of testament to the punk rock mentality that soaks deep in their thick NY skin. Certainly mainstream TRLers will pass on their glossless personas as they quest for pretty faces and peachy attitudes and that is exactly what the Strokes intended.

The Strokes are a cross between the street wise Lou Reed with the slacker mentality of Beck, and their sound and attitude reflects both. Their major label debut, “Is This It” on RCA Records, is a energetic 11-track collection that flirts with the romance and passion of punk rock. Singer/songwriter, Julian Casablancas is a swaggering street-poet who spits out towering pop songs awash with love, hate, lust and the switchblade-agony of the misunderstood artist and it doesn’t get any more to the point than that. “What I really like about this album is that there’s no track that you skip over, there’s no favorite song or anything.” Valensi says, “We just like to find sounds that just mesh with each other and sound really cool with each other along with words that somehow fit the music but really can mean many different things.”

Powered with overridden vocals, smart guitar riffs, and captivating vocal phrasing along with tight bass lines, guitar rock mentality and addictive rhythms “Is This It” has been earning much praise from critics and fans alike. Their first single “Last Night” is already climbing the Billboard charts and getting plenty of play on rock radio nation wide.

The Strokes (Who also includes guitarist Albert Hammond, bassist Nikolai Fraiture and drummer Fab Moretti) all came together at age 13 when they were attending Manhattan’s private prep school called Dwight School and would ultimately build the kind of chemistry and camaraderie that most bands could never even fathom. These are best bud’s who made it from the garage to the big leagues sticking to the only formula they knew; stay real, have fun and play what they like. “I couldn’t imagine playing in a band with strangers. Like meeting through a newspaper add or something like that. To tell you the truth, I couldn’t image playing music with anyone but the four people I’m playing with right now.”

UK Tour Dates (2001)

The UK tour was previously scheduled to end in London on June 28, but as we all know this was going to be affected by the injury to Strokes drummer, Moretti. The rest of the tour went ahead place at:

Sheffield Leadmill (June 23)
Leeds Cockpit (24)
Birmingham Little Academy (26)
Colchester Arts Centre (27)
London Heaven (28)

US Tour Dates (2001)

The UK tour was previously scheduled to end in London on June 28, but as we all know this was going to be affected by the injury to Strokes drummer, Moretti. The rest of the tour went ahead place at:

July 31: The Casbah, San Diego, CA
August 3: The Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA
August 7: Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, CA
August 10: Roseland Grill, Portland
August11: Crocodile Cafe, Seattle, WA
August 12: The Starfish Room, Vancouver, BC

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