THANXFDR: The Strokes
In this heartwarming seasonal series, the Crossfader staff will be running you through some of the media-related things that they’re most thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving!
My brother has wonderful taste in music, and at six years old, among the cigarettes smoked in secret, he introduced me to the Strokes. I didn’t understand why they were a big deal, that they were destined to “save rock and roll,” but I remember thinking Julian Casablancas was pretty cute. It wasn’t until I revisited the Strokes in high school that they became the soundtrack to my teenage years. I can’t think of a party where the Strokes weren’t playing, and they became a defining staple in developing my teenage identity. We all understood the image of “New York cool,” happy to slip on converse and layer a hoodie under a leather jacket.
Listening to the Strokes changed my view on modern music. What the Strokes execute so well is that every instrument is mastered and intricate. Bass lines were advances and two electric guitars were shredded until I understood the standard of a guitar solo. IS THIS IT is one of the few records where I enjoy every single song. Whenever I hear “Someday,” I get a bit starry-eyed and nostalgic for teenage days spent kicking around the city. I listened to their discography on long subway rides, safe and familiar in Albert’s guitar chords, Julian’s voice, and Fabrizio’s drums. The Strokes remind me of being young. Many people have disagreements about the several Strokes records that have been released throughout the years; howeve,r I can confidently say I enjoyed every single one of them. Above the music, Julian Casablancas was a great role model. He once said, “Work hard at something, you could be good at it.” I’d always taken that to heart; anybody can be good at something if you work hard enough.
My first semester of college, I met some of my closest friends at a Julian Casablancas and the Voidz concert. My friend Luke and I were invited backstage the next day, and I finally got to meet Julian. I’m happy to confirm that Julian gives the some of the best hugs I’ve experienced. But it’s more than that; Julian released his first solo record that was, by commercial accounts, a failure. PHRAZES FOR THE YOUNG did not sell, but I was very fond of the record. I distinctly remember thinking that failure was simply learning, that if Julian could fail, I shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. One song on the record, “11th Dimension,” is littered with words of wisdom: “Forgive them, even if they are not sorry.” In every Strokes record, Julian reinvents himself, yet he is still distinct as an icon. Not to mention, his 2010 style of a studded leather jacket, Bohemian hair feathers, and red skinny corduroy was one I copied frequently. Julian taught me the importance of jackets, each era a different style of military, corduroy, or denim.
The Strokes were one of my inspirations to work in music, and when I returned to New York, I happily started doing street team work for Cult Records. I’d done enough to impress some people, and got to work at a Julian Casablancas and the Voidz concert backstage at the House of Vans in Brooklyn, where I met most of my New York friends and artists. I had the pleasure of working with the Strokes again when I did promotions for Shaky Knees music festival. After that day, I knew irrefutably that I was going to work in music. Being backstage and seeing the entire festival moving as one, lights and neon and all, was one of the best moments of my teenage years.
Us two interns with the Strokes at Shaky Knees
I am where I am today because the Strokes inspired me to continue working in music. They are the band of my teenage years, of rebellion and cigarettes on fire escapes. They were the binding glue of my friends, and the band playing at every party. They’ve taught me to experiment, to invent and re-invent myself and my art. Even now, I can’t listen to their music without getting teary nostalgia for sunny days at Central Park, and of listening to them while skipping down the street to wherever my next destination was.