The Strokes Deliver Us From Hype
Published Feb 01, 2000According to practically every publication in the universe, New York City's newest sensation, the Strokes, are here to save rock'n'roll for anyone willing to listen. To the hype, that is. Citing their cool, street-tough good looks, their gritty yet romantically suave lyrics, and their catchy garage rock hooks, the media has built up the band's debut album, Is This It, beyond fair proportions. And, understandably, the Strokes are getting pretty tired of the attention.
Since the January release of their debut single, "The Modern Age," the Strokes have twice graced the cover of Britain's rock bible, NME, released "the most exciting debut album in the last decade," and garnered comparisons to NYC legends the Velvet Underground, Television and Blondie. While such comparisons are flattering, although not necessarily accurate, all this publicity has left the band feeling kind of helpless to control the image of the Strokes that has been constructed by the media. "I don't wish the attention would die down," says nonchalant singer Julian Casablancas. "I just wish the focus was a bit different. But I can't affect that at all."
It might seem obvious, but the Strokes would like the focus to return to their songs. "I think it all revolved initially around the music. Journalists heard us before the public, so they were like our first fans, who happen to write articles. It's like when you discover a band and none of your friends know about it, so to get them interested you rave about them to a ridiculous degree. I think that is what journalists have done."
Not surprisingly, the band has grown a bit suspicious of journalists. Says Casablancas, "I think that until we're really accessible and people know our music, [writers] will have the power to write whatever they want and that's what they've been doing." But then he reflects, "I don't really mind cause articles don't last as long as songs. I'm not that worried."
As for whether or not the band ever predicted their current popularity, Casablancas ponders for a second and admits, "Did I in my mind think, Yeah, people are gonna fucking dig this?' Yes. But what actually happened wasn't, Yeah, I knew it all along.' It was more like, I can't believe I was right.'"