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Legendary band the Strokes is back! Here are five facts you should know

 

As their new EP Future Present Past is released, we look at five reasons why this emblematic band of the 2000s became cult.

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).

 

The Hollywood network

 

In good company – particularly when it comes to their image – the group shot several music videos with Roman Coppola, son of Francis and sister of Sofia. The latter is one the group’s biggest fans. She’s often mentioned her love for the Lower East Side band and even used one of their songs in a film. We hear the lovely metaphysical ballad, “I’ll try anything once”, one of the quintet’s calmest and best written tunes, in her melancholic movie Somewhere. To add some spice and glitz to all that, the 2000s were marked by the ultra-publicised romance between curly haired drummer Fabrizio Moretti and Hollywood child star Drew Barrymore - possibly the coolest and naughtiest couple to ever hit the red carpet. We can’t wait for the Hollywood biopic!

 

 

The scent of sulphur

 

Like all rock bands, the New Yorkers have had their ups and downs. In 2007 their broke fans hearts when they announced their split. Following a long and difficult tour for the First Impressions of Earth album, each one went their separate ways to work on solo projects. While they reunited in 2009 to work on some Strokes tracks, they didn’t reappear together until 2011, leaving fans and the press ruminating about their comeback. Rumours were also rife about Julian, who not being terribly easy-going had acquired something of a bad reputation. Bent on self-destruction with an alcohol problem, he told NME in 2006, “Alcohol has changed the way I write but also who I am.” Not super classy. Courtney Love (who some suggest was his lover) wrote a song about him: “But Julian, I’m a little bit older than you”.

Homecoming

 

After 5 albums and several attempts at more or less successful musical escapades outside rock (a bit of pop, experimental and electro), the Strokes are once again doing what they do best. With their new EP released on June 3rd, Future Present Past, they’ve reconnected with their raw, brazen and uncompromising side that first shook the world in the early 2000s. We can also measure the extent to which their electrifying energy and grubby aesthetic, spearheading a movement of bands like their English brethren The Libertines and revival garage has influenced fashion over the last few years. You just have to look a promo pic of the group between 2001 and 2003 and a Saint Laurent runway show by Hedi Slimane for evidence of the modernity and immortality of those who continue to live like there was no tomorrow.

 

 

By Violaine Schütz

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