NME Track by Track by the band December 2005
The Strokes have given the NME an exclusive track-by-track guide to their third album ‘First Impressions of Earth’. “It’s a little different,” warns guitarist Nick Valensi. “But I think people will still be able to tell it’s The Strokes – they just sound a little bit more mature.”
‘You Only Live Once‘ – Foot-stamping opener
Fab: “I remember Julian playing this on the piano and me thinking that it was fucking awesome! I felt like I knew this song already.”
‘Juicebox‘ – Ballsy, gonzo-rock-sized first single
Albert: “We heard the riff and it was like, ‘Dude, that’s it, let’s get in the studio!”
Julian: “No, when I first played that riff a lot of people thought I was joking.
Was it influenced by a cop show’s theme?
(Rest of band start singing cop tune themes.)
‘Heart In A Cage‘ – A younger, edgy cousin of Iggy Pop’s ‘The Passenger’
Fab: “This song was going to be on the last record – ‘Private Dick’, it was once called – but it was too late. It was a blessing in disguise, really, because had it been recorded back then, I don’t think it would have worked out as well.”
‘Razorblade‘ – Sounds a bit like Barry Manilow’s ‘Mandy’ – remarkably, this is actually a good thing
Fab: “Razorblade was one of the first songs we sat down and played together. Oh, and it was the first trans-computer gigs we’ve ever done!”
Rest of band: “Er?”
Julian: “Trans-comp…? Oh, I emailed it to you…”
‘On The Other Side‘ – A slow, choppy ode to the spirit realm?
Fab: “I remember when Julian first played it for us he had a cold and he sounded like a fucking bullfrog. Like Johnny Cash one testosterone steroids!”
‘Vision of Division‘ – An angry sounding mix of throat-shredding vocals and bad-ass guitar lines
Fab: “I heard this over at Albert’s house and the guys played it for me and it was completely different.”
Julian: “No, that was ‘Ize of the World’. He’s getting it confused because sometimes our songs swap.”
‘Ask Me Anything‘ – The Strokes totally stripped, just synth-strings and Julian’s bare vocals
The lyrics are fairly morose. What kind of mood were you in when you wrote it, Julian?
Julian: “Suicidal! No, I’m usually in a fairly neutral mood when I’m writing. It just comes from other times and things sinking in, it’s very subconscious.
So who actually plays on the track then?
Fab: “Billy Joel. Yeah, we got him in to play the mellotron.” [It was actually Nick Valensi]
‘Electricityscape‘ – Big chorus, static-fried vocals and clipped guitars. A Strokes classic?
Albert: “I remember falling asleep when a few of you guys were working on this one.
Fab: “Ha! Yeah! Albert fell asleep face-down on his guitar!”
‘Killing Lies‘ – Rhythm-led pounder that oscillates between euphoria and introspection
Fab: ‘Killing Lies’ was first arranged and brought to life at the studio of the Dandy Warhols. They invited us to dinner, they’re great guys. Sorry, great guys and a girl.”
‘Fear of Sleep’ – Slow-building monster. Boasts some of Julian’s best lung-busting singing
Fab: “This was one of the most difficult songs on the record. To arrange, I mean. It just never seemed right at some points and then it did.”
‘15 Minutes’ – A badly behaved drinking anthem. Surprisingly reminiscent of Shane Macgowan
Nick: “We had two different ways to play it. A very Pogues-y version, and a punk-rock version. Then they became one and the same.”
‘Ize of the World‘ – A hip-swinging little tune which sees The Strokes take aim at modern alienation
What are the Ize Of The World?
Albert: “Isn’t it what every word ends with? Modernize, computerize…(Julian shakes head) Or am I wrong? I’m wrong.”
Julian: “Once you hear the lyrics to the song, it’s pretty clear what it means.”
‘Evening Sun‘ – Stoic yet determined, possibly the most ‘classic Strokes’ sounding song here
Fab: “Julian first did this and we found it on Gordon [Raphael, producer]’s computer. We went up to Julian and said, ‘Why didn’t you play us this song?’. It’s become one of my favourites. Oh, and he and I both played the drums.”
Julian: “Oh, please don’t print that.”
Fab: “Are you going to deny that? If you listen to the end you hear that there are two drummers.”
‘Red Light‘ – A sprightly and dexterous closer
Julian: “OK, I have a story about this one, but I’m not sure I should tell it.”
Fab: “Dude, it’s the last one. Tell it or I will hit you!”
Julian: “All over my body? OK…somebody got me tickets for Mozart’s ‘Requiem’, I was just really stoned, so afterwards I thought it would be cool to write something inspired by opera. I went back, got this really strong melody together and there it was….’Red Light’!”
(The band applaud the story.)