New York’s finest, The Strokes stop by on their worldwind worldwide club tour to shoot the proverbial with CDUK!
You played your first UK gig for this album at University of London Union a few weeks back. How do you feel it went?
Fabrizio Moretti (drums): It was fun, a little nerve-wracking you know. It’s always difficult to present new material. You try to establish a very symbiotic relationship for shows and it’s very difficult to take from the crowd when they don’t know the song. But it was fun; they was a lively bunch.
Nick Valensi (guitar): I thought it was great, we played nearly all the songs off our new record and a bunch of old stuff too. The crowd was sort of pensive and you know, very attentive while we were playing the new stuff and then everyone had a gay old time, so to speak, once we played the hits.
Franz Ferdinand, Razorlight, Jarvis Cocker and the Stereophonics were all in attendence. Were there any other bands in the audience? Did you invite them personally?
Fab: No, they just wanted to come which was nice. They made it that much more nerve-wracking.
Nick: When there are musicians in the audience, you feel like you’re really under scrutiny, but its fun you know. It’s nice that those people are fans.
You came on stage late. What was up with that?
Fab: We were late on stage? How late were we on stage?
We were told you were gonna be on stage at quarter past nine and you came on at 10!
Fab: You’re kidding!
Nick: I was watching The Simpsons backstage, I had to wait for the episode to end, that’s why. Sorry!
Fab: I’m sorry first of all that we were late to anyone that was pissed off.
Nick: The band has a bit of a tardiness issue.
Fab: But its not because were selfish or anything. Like two hours three hours before the show we were trying to gear ourselves up and getting all nervous and puke-y and shit. So its not like we’re these jaded guys who are like, ‘Yeah I’ll go on stage whenever the fuckk I want,’ you know what I mean. I heard Axel Rose once went on stage like two hours late because he was watching an American football game.
Nick: Not once, he would routinely not go on stage until Monday night football was over and it would end. And I think it starts at like 9 o’clock.
Fab: Eight o’clock, yeah.
Nick: And end at like 11:30 and if the game went into overtime or whatever they would pay fines.
Fab: Like million dollar fines.
Nick: In America they have Monday night football and whenever they did a gig on a Monday night he would not go on stage till the game was over.
But you’d never do anything like that
Nick: I didn’t realise we were going on stage late last night. Sometimes there’s things that just happen and it takes a little while to like set-up the stage properly and I know they were having sound issues with the PA yesterday when we were sound checking so.
Fab: We all just wait like guinea pigs backstage.
Nick: We just wait back there you know.
Do you have any pre-gig rituals?
Fab: There’s one specific one, I mean me personally, I have about 160 rituals you know.
Nick: Do you?
Fab: You know me, with the tape for the thing. I have to cut the piece of tape and put it where it was.
Nick: Right yeah, that’s a little OCD dude!
Fab: Well I was raised superstitious. Nah, I wasn’t.
Nick: You are quite superstitious though, aren’t you?
Fab: I know it’s weird.
What’s the one really big thing you have to do then?
Fab: Probably this tape business. I used to have like this kinda shitty in-ear monitor system that would always get caught when I moved my head back and forth.
Nick: ‘Cos you know there’s like a wire behind your head when you have these things in your ear. Like a little wire that starts to get stuck on the poor guy’s shirt.
Fab: So I would give myself slack and then tape it down to my shirt so then it would never go up and down.
Nick: So he was free to head bang you know.
Fab: But then I got a better pair. But I still have to do it and tape it and this is like all an explanation for a very specific thing. Matt, my drum tech and one of my best friends, has to bring down a piece of black gaffer tape and put it on a specific like wall of the room. But it has to dangle so I could take it down, cut a square off it and put the square back on the same place where it was then tape myself!
You played to 800 people at ULU. Why did you decide to play such a small venue to showcase this album?
Fab: Because this isn’t really like a full on Strokes shows. It’s kind of a showcase for our friends and friends that we haven’t met yet.
Nick: Like fans
Fab: Yeah, that’s what I mean by friends.
Nick: So it’s sort of like a special thing for the most hardcore fans.
Fab: That’s what I meant by friends we hadn’t met yet.
Nick: Excuse me.
Fab: You know like kids who like really want to hear us go seek it out. By making it like a smaller venue you kind of force the really strong believers in you to come, you know what I mean? That way you can have a little soiree and you can show them the new stuff and then come back.
Nick: It would be way too intimidating to have all this new material that we’re not 100% comfortable with and be thrown out in front of 15,000 people. That would be scary.
Fab: Can we play in front of like 15,000 people? Do you think?
Nick: Yes, we have and we will again, I feel. I hope, knock on wood.
Fans slept on the street in order to get tickets for this gig. Do you feel a bit guilty about that?
Fab: Yeah kind of. I mean it’s quite a compliment on one hand, but on the other I wish they didn’t have to. I wish I was there with them, like lying down with them. ‘Don’t worry about it. You’ll get in. I promise, night, night’.
We’re sure the fans would’ve loved that! Which bands would you have slept on the street to get tickets to see when you were kids?
Nick: I never slept on the street. One time I woke up really early to get Pearl Jam tickets when I was about 14. They went on sale at 10am and I was in line at like 6 or 6:30am and I got my tickets, but I never camped out.
Fab: If the Beatles got back together especially now, I’d be like, ‘Whaaat ghosts are gonna be there!’
You’re releasing your third album First Impressions Of Earth in January. Do you think it’s heavier than the last two records?
Nick: I don’t think it’s heavier. The single is probably the heaviest thing on the record, but its more diverse. There’s a lot of mellower stuff; it’s mellower than anything we’ve ever done. So it pushes both directions a lot more.
Can you take us through some of the tracks on the album?
Fab: I think a fun song to play live is ‘Vision of Division’ because it’s so trying on us. It’s very specific and so it has to sound very tight for it to come across right. It’s probably one of the most difficult songs that we have on our roster. I think it’s my favourite song on the record right now, although it switches. Actually to be honest with you, I can’t listen to that record any more because we’ve been working on it so much. But I guess if I were to pick a favourite song, it would be ‘Ize Of The World’. Just because the lyrics are pretty good and the song is just fun and interesting. Very dynamic.
Have you decided on a second single yet?
Fab: Yeah, a song called ‘Heart In A Cage’.
Nick: I suppose it’s a harder song, not as hard as ‘Juicebox’. It sounds a little bit like Iggy Pop but more focused.
What have been doing since arriving in London, where are your favorite places to visit in the UK?
Nick: The Dorchester!
Fab: I heard you have to mortgage your house to have tea at the Dorchester, so I try to stay away from that.
Nick: We’ve been really busy.
Fab: Then again I just spent like 30 bucks on a fucking pizza here, which is crazy.
Nick: Yeah this hotel is really expensive. My breakfast this morning cost like £80. What kinda shit is that man!
Fab: For two people, dude that’s like $160 for breakfast.
Nick: It’s ridiculous, it’s unfair! But its nothing compared to Tokyo. When we were in Tokyo man we stayed there for like 4 nights and I paid my bill at the end of the stay and it was like $4000 for like random stuff. It was ridiculous it’s very expensive out there!
What do you think of the UK music scene?
Fab: And what a scene it is and seen!
Who are you fans of?
Nick: Are The Magic Numbers British? I thought they were American
Fab: Dude, I just saw that Coldplay video, ‘Fix You’. We’ve been talking about it for a while now.
Nick: That came out like six months ago dude!
Fab: Yeah I know, but I just saw it for the first time! I just saw it and it was pretty good!
Nick: Yeah its good man, the video’s great though. The first time I saw it he was just like running all over the place.
Fab: Yeah, but you told me about it, you described it me so I had clues. Like I mean I knew what was going on. And there’s like little clues you pick up on as he’s walking like there’s real fast shot’s of him spinning the light.
Have you seen them live?
Nick: Yeah Coldplay are good. I like Franz Ferdinand and I really like Muse.
How would you deal with the British tabloid press? Would you move away, like Pete Doherty is rumored to be doing with Kate Moss?
Fab: I tell you, the best couple that ever was: Kermit The Frog and Miss Piggy and that’s it and that’s that!
Nick: They were huge, what a power couple!
Fab: Man they lived the surreal life man it was crazy! The drugs and the booze!
Nick: The surreal life man, staying at the Dorchester.
But are they still together?
Fab: I don’t know if they ever were really together. I think Kermit was a little naive really.
Nick: Kermit, he definitely had some commitment issues I think. And Miss Piggy she was tough to please. She intimidated Kermit really.
Fab: She was high maintenance.
Nick: Definitely high maintenance. She just has such an extravagant lifestyle know you. How was Kermit supposed to keep up with that, it was tough. It’s what they call a high conflict relationship.
Fab: Yeah, but he wrote some fucking stellar songs.
Nick: Did he write his stuff or did he just…
Fab: Yeah Kermit wrote it. Why are their so many songs about rainbows? Gut wrenching. Not gut wrenching but, somehow sad but beautiful.