Hype is usually short-lived but the Strokes, the NY’ers touted as the “next big thing”, seem to have come through it all with a sense of place in the world of rock’n’roll, not to mention a sense of humour…
Tell us about your first couple of gigs.
Julian: Well, there were like, four people there.
Albert: One of them was my grandmother.
Julian: And I think I puked before the show. But everyone who saw us seemed to like us and every time we played a show, 30% more people would be there. Everyone just telling their friends, ‘check out this cool fucking band’. Now here we are touring the world!
How do you explain why so many people are excited about your record Is This It?
Julian: I don’t know about you guys, but I think it’s because it’s a great fucking record and people tend to respond to that.
Albert: I think it’s because Nick is hot.
Nikolai: That’s it.
How do you deal with “hype”?
Albert: I masturbate to the magazine covers we’re on.
Julian: Yeah, and he jerks off to all our interviews.
The press have made a lot of comparisons with your music (eg Velvet Underground) but how would you describe your sound?
Julian: I would say it’s a touch of Faith No More and Aerosmith. We try to rub some funk on everything we do.
Albert: I don’t like to compare our music to other bands, but to describe it in words, I would say things like, beautiful aggression, tension with waves going up and down…
Julian: Actually we express all our emotions in charts and graphs.
The production on Is This It is rather stripped down and raw. How did you create that sound?
Julian: Our producer had to be naked at all times.
Albert: We ate a lot of raw meat, slept in caves for a couple weeks.
Julian: Yeah, it was primal, we’d drag girls back to our caves by the hair.
Nick: Julian, do you have a cigarette?
Albert: Well, that and some microphones.
Julian: And some knobs and shit.
Where did you record the album?
Albert: Transportoram in the east village.
Julian: No, in Germany. Yeah, we’re from Munich. No seriously, it’s where we recorded our first serious demo and our album… Albert are you touching my butt?
Albert: No way man, just getting your lighter!
You started your touring outside the U.S. despite being an American rock band. Why?
Julian: Because there was one fucking person in the music business who cared about what we were doing and his name is Geoff Travis, from Rough Trade Records in the UK. He said, come out to my hood and tour and get this shit together. We partied, then went to England and started touring. I think American labels are so interested in pop music, MTV, making money and not too interested in art. We were lucky enough to find a guy who noticed us. Then fans started reacting to it. That made American bozos say, like, yeah, I dig it too!
Albert: What we’re trying to say is THANK YOU GEOFF TRAVIS.
Julian: You’re the man!
Nick: Isn’t he the lead singer of Travis?
What have you been up to lately?
Albert: Sold out UK tour, went to Spain and Scandinavia.
Nick: Went to a great Japanese restaurant…
Nikolai: And Australia.
What’s it like on the road with The Strokes?
Julian: It’s a roller coaster ride. You go up up up and then WAAAH! you go all the way down. Then when it’s over your like, ‘shit that was awesome’. Then you’re in line and you get all nervous and do it all over again.
What are your plans for the future?
Julian: I think Albert and I are going to settle down and have kids.
Nick: How about opening up a little chapeau shop?
Are you looking forward to taking your international success back to the US?
Albert: Yeah, that’s our home, it’s always cool to have success where you’re from.
Julian: I can’t wait to tour the US, hang out with Americans again. I hope it goes well, that would be a dream come true. Even now, it’s a dream come true.