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Equally inspired by classic tunesmiths like Buddy Holly and John Lennon and the street-smart attitude and angular riffs of fellow New Yorkers Television and the Velvet Underground, the Strokes were also equally blessed and cursed with an enormous amount of hype -- particularly from the U.K. music press, whose adulation for the group rivaled their fervor for Oasis in the early '90s. Barely in their twenties by the time their debut album, Is This It, arrived in 2001, singer/songwriter Julian Casablancas, guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond, Jr., bassist Nikolai Fraiture, and drummer Fabrizio Moretti's success wasn't quite of the overnight variety, but it still arrived pretty swiftly.
Casablancas (the son of Elite Model Agency Group kingpin John Casablancas), Moretti (who began playing drums at age five), and Valensi started playing together in 1998 while they attended the Dwight School, a private prep school in Manhattan. Soon thereafter they met Fraiture, who attended the Upper East Side's Lycee Français, and added him to their ranks. Hammond (the son of singer/songwriter Albert Hammond, whose songs include "It Never Rains in Southern California," "When I Need You," and "To All the Girls I've Loved Before") came from Los Angeles to attend film school at NYU and was invited into the band by Casablancas; the two met at L'Institut le Rosey in Switzerland when they were kids.
Casablancas officially christened the quintet the Strokes in 1999, and the group spent most of that year writing and rehearsing material in New York City's Music Building. They made their live debut that fall at the Spiral, and word of mouth about the Strokes' incendiary live show propelled them to gigs at venues like Under the Acme and Lower East Side clubs such as Arlene Grocery, Baby Jupiter, and Luna. The Strokes' December 2000 dates at the Mercury Lounge and the Bowery Ballroom not only gained them a manager (Ryan Gentles, who booked them at those clubs), but also helped Strokes mania reach critical mass in New York. Rough Trade released the group's three-song demo as The Modern Age EP in January 2001, which sparked a bidding war from which RCA emerged as the victors.
Meanwhile, the Strokes' acclaim reached the U.K. and grew to massive proportions over the course of the year. NME quickly became their champions, profiling them several times that spring and summer as the Strokes' live act and singles like Hard to Explain (which debuted at number 16 in the U.K. charts) won them a rabid British following. That spring, the band also completed its first U.S. tour as the opening act for the Doves and proceeded to play dates with Guided by Voices and ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead in the U.S. and the U.K. The group's popularity continued to snowball in the U.K., with a side-stage slot at the NME Carling Weekender changed to a main-stage performance for fear of people trampling each other to see the band.
In late summer of that year, Rough Trade released Is This It with an album cover featuring a sexy, Helmut Newton-esque photo of a woman's nude behind and hip with a leather-gloved hand resting on it; the U.K. chains Woolworth's and HMV objected to its controversial nature. The U.S. version of Is This It was released in October and featured a few changes from the U.K. edition. The Strokes opted for an abstract pattern on the cover and removed the song "New York City Cops," feeling the song was inappropriate in the wake of the terrorist attacks that struck New York prior to the album's release; the planned B-side, "When It Started," took its place. The group closed out the fall with an extended tour of the U.S., culminating with a Halloween gig at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom.
The remainder of 2001 and 2002 saw the group's profile continue to rise. Is This It and the Strokes were lauded in many ways, ranging from This Isn't It, an EP of instrumental versions of some of the album's songs performed by a mystery band called the Diff'rent Strokes (Pulp's Jarvis Cocker was rumored to be a member) to 2001 NME Carling Awards for Best New Act, Band of the Year, and Album of the Year. The band toured extensively throughout 2002, including a series of dates that summer in New York and Detroit with the White Stripes, summer festivals at Reading and Leeds, and a string of gigs supporting Weezer, some of which were canceled due to a leg injury Casablancas suffered. During these shows, their fall tour, and their dates opening for the Rolling Stones, the Strokes debuted some new songs, including "Meet Me in the Bathroom," "You Talk Way Too Much," and "The Way It Is."
By March 2003, the band was ready to start recording its new album, but instead of working with Is This It producer Gordon Raphael as previously reported, the Strokes began recording with Nigel Godrich of Radiohead and Beck fame. That May, however, the Strokes' sessions with Godrich came to an end, and they returned to Raphael to finish the album. The single "12:51" introduced the more meticulous, new wave-inspired sound of Room on Fire, which arrived in fall 2003. Just before the album's release, the Strokes hit the road once again, taking Kings of Leon with them. Early in 2006, they returned with the even poppier and more polished First Impressions of Earth.
The band took a hiatus after the tour for that album, with each member working on other projects. Albert Hammond, Jr. was the first to venture into the solo fray with Yours to Keep, which was released in late 2006 in the U.K. and in early 2007 in the U.S.; he followed it with 2008's Como Te Llama? Fabrizio Moretti played with the indie pop band Little Joy, whose self-titled album arrived in late 2008. Nikolai Fraiture embarked on the folky solo project Nickel Eye, and released the debut Time of the Assassins in early 2009. Although the Strokes headed back into the studio that same year, progress was slow as Julian Casablancas briefly shifted his attention to a solo album, Phrazes for the Young, which arrived that fall. After playing a headlining slot at Lollapalooza in 2010, the Strokes returned to the studio with renewed focus, eventually emerging with 2011's Angles. Given the gap between their two previous albums, it was something of a surprise when the band returned in early 2013 with Comedown Machine, a more streamlined, subdued affair that reunited the Strokes with Angles producer Gus Oberg.
The Strokes are an American rock band formed in New York City in 1998, consisting of Julian Casablancas (lead vocals), Nick Valensi (guitar, backing vocals), Albert Hammond, Jr. (guitar, backing vocals), Nikolai Fraiture (bass guitar) and Fabrizio Moretti (drums, percussion).
Upon the release of their debut album Is This It in 2001, the group met wide critical acclaim. Since then, the band has maintained a fan base in New York City and elsewhere in the United States, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Ireland, Canada, France, Brazil and Australia. A number of members have embarked on a variety of side projects, though they regrouped for a fifth album, titled Comedown Machine, released on March 26, 2013. They have sold over 5 million albums.
They are one of the many indie rock bands to hail from the US at the dawn of the 21st century and helped augment the garage rock revival movement. Their debut album, Is This It, was ranked number 199 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, number 8 on Rolling Stone's 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time and number 2 on Rolling Stone's 100 Best Albums of the 2000s."The Strokes – They saved Indie!". Clash. Retrieved 16 March 2011. "The Decade in Indie". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2 May 2012. Lynskey, Dorian (January 16, 2012). "Indie rock's slow and painful death". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 April 2012. "Kesha freaked out over Strokes' collaboration". "The Strokes at". Infoplease.com. Retrieved 2011-10-22. "Pictures of 50 albums you need to hear in 2010". New Musical Express. Retrieved April 28, 2010. "US: THE STROKES SIGN PUBLISHING DEAL WITH BMG". BMG. Retrieved 2014-02-06. "The 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2013-06-17. "100 Best Albums of the 2000s: The Strokes, 'Is This It'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-07-11.
ContentsHistory1.1 Beginnings and The Modern Age EP (1998–2001)1.2 Is This It (2001–2002)1.3 Room on Fire (2002–2005)1.4 First Impressions of Earth and extensive break (2005–2008)1.5 Angles (2009–2011)1.6 Comedown Machine (2012–present)
Beginnings and The Modern Age EP (1998–2001)
Lead singer-songwriter Julian Casablancas, guitarist Nick Valensi, and drummer Fab Moretti started playing together while attending Dwight School in Manhattan. Bassist Nikolai Fraiture had been friends with Casablancas and was attending the Lycée Français de New York. At age 13, Casablancas was sent to Le Rosey, a boarding school in Switzerland to improve his academic performance. In Switzerland, Casablancas met guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr.
Later, when Hammond came to New York to attend New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, he shared an apartment with Casablancas. They started a band which first performed at The Spiral and then Luna Lounge on the Lower East Side of New York, and at Manhattan's popular Mercury Lounge. Ryan Gentles, the Mercury Lounge's booker, quit his job to become the band's manager.
The band began rehearsing a fourteen song set which included "Alone, Together", "Barely Legal", "Last Nite", "The Modern Age", "New York City Cops", "Soma", "Someday", "Take It or Leave It" and "This Life" (an early version of "Trying Your Luck"). Most of these songs now feature different lyrics. A demo sent to the newly reformed Rough Trade Records in the UK sparked interest there, leading to their first release via the website of the UK magazine NME who gave away a free mp3 download of "Last Nite" a week prior to the physical release as part of The Modern Age EP in 2001. The EP sparked a bidding war among record labels, the largest for a rock and roll band in years. In August 2001, The Strokes made their first appearance on the cover of the publication The FADER, in its 9th issue.
Is This It (2001–2002)
The Strokes released their debut album Is This It in the US in October 2001 on RCA after some delay due to changes made from the UK-released version (released August 27, 2001). The cover of the latter features a black-and-white photo of a gloved hand on a woman's naked backside, shown in semi-profile. The naked model on the cover was photographer Colin Lane's girlfriend at the time. The North American version replaces this with an image of particle collisions in the Big European Bubble Chamber and replaced the song "New York City Cops" with "When It Started". The replacement of "New York City Cops", which contains the refrain "New York City Cops, they ain't too smart", was made in good faith following the September 11 attacks. "New York City Cops" was listed as No. 12 on New York Magazine's "Ultimate New York Playlist" on March 1, 2010.
The melodic garage rock sound of Is This It received universal acclaim from both mainstream and independent publications, including 4 stars from Rolling Stone, and a 9.1 from Pitchfork Media; it made many critics' top 10 lists, and was named the best album of the year by Entertainment Weekly and TIME. NME, in an article previewing summer concerts, urged readers to attend their shows, claiming that the band was touring on the strength of some of the "best pop songs ever". The influence of 1970s CBGB stalwarts Television was noted by many reviewers, although Casablancas and bandmates claimed to have never heard the band, and instead cited the Velvet Underground as a reference point.
After the release of Is This It, the band toured around the world, featuring dates in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and North America opening for the Rolling Stones. The self-made mini-documentary "In Transit" was filmed during the summer tour of Europe. First it was available exclusively for members of the now-defunct fan-club "Alone, Together", now it's available on the band's official website for all to see.
In August 2002, the band headlined UK's Carling Weekend festivals in 2002 for the second time, and then played at New York's Radio City Music Hall on a bill with The White Stripes. Jack White joined the Strokes on stage to perform the guitar solo on "New York City Cops". During that period, the band also appeared as musical guests on numerous late-night talk shows. Is This It yielded several singles and music videos, all of which were directed by Roman Coppola.
In 2009, NME named Is This It as the greatest album of the decade (2000s). The album placed second on a similar list compiled by Rolling Stone. The same issue featured a list of the '100 Best Songs of the 00's', in which songs "Hard to Explain" and "Last Nite" charted at No. 59 and No. 16, respectively. In January 2011, Rolling Stone conducted a survey among their Facebook fans to determine the top ten debut albums of all time. Is This It came in at number ten and was also the most recent behind Pearl Jam's 1991 debut.
As of 2010, Is This It has sold over 3.5 million copies worldwide.
Room on Fire (2002–2005)
The group began recording their follow-up in 2002 with producer Nigel Godrich (best known for his work with Radiohead), but later split with him in favor of Gordon Raphael, the producer of Is This It. Recordings with Godrich were never revealed. In August 2003, the band toured Japan, playing a couple of the upcoming songs: "Reptilia", "Meet Me In The Bathroom", "The Way It Is", "Between Love & Hate" (formerly known as "Ze Newie") and "12:51" (formerly known as "Supernova"). The band also played Paul Anka's "My Way" with Japanese lyrics.
The Strokes released their second album Room on Fire in October 2003. It received praise from critics but was less commercially successful, although it still went gold. The album's sound maintained the Strokes' familiar reference points, while also evoking groups such as The Cars, Bob Marley, and Blondie. In the process, they made the cover of Spin Magazine for the second time, with each member receiving his own cover. They also made the cover of Rolling Stone for the first time. Additional media coverage of the band came from the relationship between Moretti and actress Drew Barrymore, which ended in January 2007.
The first single taken from Room on Fire was the song "12:51", which used distinct keyboard-like sounds produced by Valensi's guitar. The video was also directed by Roman Coppola, and was inspired by the futuristic look of the 1980s film Tron. This consisted of a mainly black scene, with instances of glowing picton blue and riptide. In November 2003, The Strokes played on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, performing "Reptilia", "What Ever Happened", "Under Control" and "I Can't Win". During the 2003/2004 "Room on Fire Tour", the band played with Kings of Leon as support act and Regina Spektor. While on tour, Spektor and the Strokes recorded the song "Modern Girls & Old Fashion Men", released as a B-side on the "Reptilia" single. Also during the tour, the band included The Clash's "Clampdown" as a cover, which was released as the B-side for "The End Has No End".
In late 2004, The Strokes revealed plans to release a live album. The Live in London LP was planned for release in October 2004, but was abandoned, reportedly due to recording quality problems. The chosen gig was one held at the legendary Alexandra Palace in North London. In February 2005, Julian Casablancas wed long-time friend and assistant band manager Juliet Joslin. The Strokes had a three-concert South American tour in October 2005, with dates in Brazil, Chile, and Argentina.
First Impressions of Earth and extensive break (2005–2008)
In late September 2005, "Juicebox", the first single from The Strokes' then unreleased third album, was leaked online, forcing the single's release date to be advanced. The single was then released as an exclusive on online download services. "Juicebox" became The Strokes' second UK Top 10 hit, as well as their second US Modern Rock Top 10 success. During November and December 2005 the Strokes did a promotional tour for the still unreleased album, which involved doing one-off shows in major cities around the world.
Their third album, First Impressions of Earth, was released in January 2006 to mixed reviews and debuted at number four in the US and number one in the UK, a first for the band. In Japan it went gold within the first week of release. It was also the most downloaded album for two weeks on iTunes. Fraiture claimed that the album was "like a scientific breakthrough". In January 2006, the band then made their second appearance on Saturday Night Live playing "Juicebox" and "You Only Live Once".
The album was somewhat a departure from the band's two previous albums. One reason for this was a switch of producers from Gordon Raphael to David Kahne. Despite its initial strong sales, First Impressions of Earth received the worst reception, both commercially and critically, of all their albums.
In 2006, the band played 18 sold-out shows during their UK tour. In February 2006, The Strokes won "Best International Band" at the NME Awards. In March, the band returned to the US with their longest tour yet. The second single off First Impressions of Earth, "Heart in a Cage", was released in March 2006.
During the summer of 2006, The Strokes played several festival dates in Europe, including the Hultsfred Festival in Sweden, Roskilde Festival in Denmark, the Oxegen Festival in Ireland, the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, the FIB (Festival Internacional de Benicàssim), Fuji Rock Festival and headlined the Pentaport Rock Festival in South Korea. They then toured Australia and Mexico in late August and early September, followed by the second leg of the United States tour. While in the US, The Strokes opened for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers for five shows during their Highway Companion tour.
The Strokes went on to complete another US tour. During this final tour Casablancas stated to fans that the band would be taking an extensive break after it finished. An e-mail was sent out soon afterwards by Strokes manager Ryan Gentles, confirming that "much needed break". A new band website went online in May 2007 along with the release of an alternate video to their single "You Only Live Once" directed by Warren Fu. The video also featured a brief interlude with "Ize of the World", also from First Impressions of Earth. The song "You Talk Way Too Much" was used in a commercial for the Ford Sync. Aleksandra Cisneros became The Strokes' new assistant manager in late 2007.
The Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas and guitarist Nick Valensi started writing material for the album in January 2009, intent on entering the studio that February. Julian commented in Rolling Stone that they had completed about three songs that sounded like a mixture of 1970s rock and "music from the future".
On March 31, 2009 from their MySpace account, the band announced the end of their "much needed hibernation period" and the commencement of new writing and rehearsing for a fourth full-length album, entitled Angles. This album would be different from the first three in that it would feature music written by the other four Strokes, rather than Casablancas writing ninety-five percent of the material again: "It's supercollaborative, and it sounds different," said Valensi, "but it has a Strokes vibe to it."
In an NME article, Pharrell Williams expressed interest in producing this upcoming album. This followed the news that Casablancas had collaborated with Williams and Santigold on "My Drive Thru", a track commemorating the 100th anniversary of Converse's Chuck Taylor All-Stars shoe. The song was available as a free download from the official Converse site.
The album was due to be released in late 2009, but disagreements about the songs' readiness forced The Strokes to scale back this date.
On February 1, 2010, The Strokes announced on their website that the recording of the fourth album was being helmed by award-winning producer Joe Chiccarelli. According to Chiccarelli in an interview with HitQuarters, the two camps first met in 2009 and, after finding they shared a similar mind space and similar thoughts on the potential direction of the new record, tried out some tracking. Not long after recording began, however, the band became frustrated with Chiccarelli's reserved production style. Only one song from these recording sessions, "Life Is Simple in the Moonlight", remained on the album's tracklisting. Inspired, in part, by bands like MGMT, Arctic Monkeys, and Crystal Castles, The Strokes decided to experiment with various production techniques, and recorded the rest of the album's material at Albert Hammond, Jr.'s home studio in upstate New York with award-winning engineer Gus Oberg.
The Strokes confirmed that they would be headlining the Isle of Wight Festival, Lollapalooza, Roskilde Festival, Hurricane Festival, Splendour In The Grass, Rockness, Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, On The Bright Side, and Austin City Limits Music Festival in 2010. Additionally, The Strokes were announced as the 2011 headliner for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in May, Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, Oxegen, Paléo, Peace & Love and Super Bock Super Rock in July, and Reading Festival and Summer Sonic in August. They were also sub-headliners to Pulp at Leeds Festival during the bank holiday weekend in August.
On June 9, 2010, at Dingwalls London, England, the band played a secret show under the name 'Venison' to a crowd of just 487. This was their first live gig since October 2006. The band did not play any new material.
The lead single from the new album, "Under Cover of Darkness", was released on February 9, 2011. The 7" was officially released on March 1, 2011 and contained another track from Angles, "You're So Right", as the B-side. "Taken for a Fool" was confirmed as the second single, which was sent to U.S. radio on May 24, 2011. On June 9, The Strokes announced that a music video for "Taken For a Fool" was in the works, and that it is directed by Laurent Briet. They revealed that the music video should be finished by the end of the month. The Strokes put out the music video for "Taken For a Fool" on July 8, 2011.
Comedown Machine (2012–present)
In mid-March 2011, an interview with ShortList magazine revealed that The Strokes had already begun working on their fifth studio album. However, sessions were delayed due to the mixing process of Angles. Julian Casablancas and Nick Valensi both confirmed that there was material in the works as well as plenty of leftover material. Frontman Julian Casablancas claimed that the band was eager to begin working on new material and were already supposed to, but it took longer than expected to master Angles.
In April 2012, bassist Nikolai Fraiture posted a tweet announcing that the band was heading into the studio to work on some new ideas. The Strokes later revealed that they were planning to record a new album as soon as possible. Fraiture added that the band will record their fifth album in the same manner as they put together Angles, with each member bringing in their own ideas and putting them together in the studio.
On January 17, 2013, Seattle alternative radio station 107.7 The End posted on their Facebook page that they were previewing a new song by The Strokes entitled "All the Time". It was later confirmed that "All the Time" would be the lead single from the untitled fifth album.
On January 25, 2013, the song "One Way Trigger" was published on their official website, and made available for free download. The song was initially met with a mixed reaction from fans of the band. On January 28, a Reddit user discovered what he correctly assumed to be the new album cover within the subpages of the band's official website, which led to a widespread rumor that the new album would be titled Comedown Machine. On January 30, the title for the fifth album was revealed to be Comedown Machine, set to be released on March 26 in the U.S. and March 25 in the UK.
On February 13, 2013, the first single from the band's fifth album premiered on the radio, named "All the Time". The single was released for download on February 19, and was described as a return to the classic Strokes sound of first albums Is This It and Room on Fire. The album was released on March 25, 2013 in the UK and March 26 in the United States.
On October 15, 2013, the band revealed that they were looking to 'return to the scene' in 2014.
On December 5, 2013, Albert Hammond, Jr. said that he would be interested in playing solo as an opening act for The Strokes, if they announce another tour: "I would definitely ask the guys if I could open for them, that’d be amazing."
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