Smash hit beginnings
Flashback. In 2001 the general mood suggests rock has died a death and it’s all about electro, pop and hip-hop. Then suddenly like the messiahs of the devil’s music, come the Strokes. The New York band release their first album Is This It which instantly revives the rock’n’roll legend in all its glorious wildness and arrogant urgency. There’s the tense, dirty riffs just like on a good old Television track, the album cover showing a gloved hand on a lady’s naked derriere (replaced by a particle collision in the countries who deemed hand on bum too risqué) and the subversive lyrics of the song “New York City Cops”. Its chorus proclaiming proudly, just after 9/11: “New York City cops, they ain’t too smart.” And then there’s the stance, the pose, the attitude. Five pretty faces squeezed into tight jeans and leather jackets, the likes of which we’d not seen since the Stones and Velvet. And just like that they became the saviours of rock and sales of skinny jeans went out the roof.
The singer’s charisma
The success of the band owes a lot to the aura of the lead singer with his drawling tones and face of a fallen angel. Julian Casablancas is the son of John Casablancas, founder of the Elite model agency, and Jeanette Christiansen, top model crowned Miss Denmark in 1965. After his parents divorced he was brought up by his mother and her partner, the painter Sam Adoquei. A serious pedigree. He’s also lent his very particular voice to Daft Punk, played the guitar on a Queens of the Stone Age track and collaborated with Santigold, Pharrell Williams, Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse and Digitalism. In terms of private life, you can’t help but name-drop either. After dating two empowered women artists (painter Colleen Barry and singer Regina Spektor), Casablancas married Juliet Joslin, assistant at the company who manages the Strokes. The Azzaro perfume model has also been immortalised by Elizabeth Peyton (to whom we owe portraits of legendary rock stars such as Kurt Cobain).