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 pianoo 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?

Julian: “No”

(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.)