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The Strokes Biography

Last updated: 06/04/2012 11:00:00 AM

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The Strokes are a five-piece band hailing from New York. They’re made up of Julian Casablancas (Vocals), Nick Valensi (lead guitar), Albert Hammond, Jr. (rhythm guitar), Nikolai Fraiture (bass) and Fabrizio Moretti (drums). Their emergence has been tied to the “Garage Rock Revival” that surfaced in early 2000 (other bands include: The White Stripes, The Hives, The Vines, you get the deal). Ever since their debut back in 2001, The Strokes have been recognized as one of the perennial rock bands of our generation. Their sound is a healthy mix of glaring guitars, backed by speedy percussion and Julian’s facetious, sometimes dejected lyricism. The group’s overall work has progressively grown to be more explosive with every record.

Prior to any relevant exposure, Julian Casablancas, Nick Valensi and Fab Morretti played together during their elementary school days in New York. Julian was also good friends with bassist Nikolai Fraiture around that time, even though Fraiture attended a different school. Casablancas was later sent to a boarding school in Switzerland at the age of 13, to improve his academic performance and his drinking problem (!). It was there where he went on to the-strokes-20070331-233522befriend Albert Hammond Jr. years later, Hammond moved to New York to share a room with Casablancas while both attended an arts college. With the five all knowing each other, they formed a band and played several gigs on the Lower East Side of New York. During a performance at the respected Mercury Lounge, Ryan Giles, the man who booked them for the venue, immediately quit his job to become the group’s manager. From then on, The Strokes rehearsed intensely, notable songs included “Someday,” “Last Nite,” and “The Modern Age.” With the help of Giles, who’s called by the band “The Sixth Stroke,” the group sent their demo to Rough Trade Records over in the UK. The label loved what they heard, and The Strokes went on to release their first collection of songs in The Modern Age EP. The record featured just three songs, (The Modern Age, Last Nite, Barely Legal) with slightly altered lyrics compared to the final recordings. The EP gained critical success, igniting one of the biggest label bidding wars for a rock band in recent history. RCA ultimately signed the band, and the went on to release their first complete album in 2001, titled Is This It.

Is This It was an international success for the group, sparking numerous favorable reviews. The band flexed their garage rock sound, everything glistened. The record led some critics to consider them as “the saviors of The Strokesrock.” The album’s lyrical composition itself was a admittedly a alcohol binged mess of frustration, depression, energy and exuberance. Songs such as “Someday” and “Barely Legal” glare the bearing elements of blues rock. “Alone, Together” and “Hard To Explain” rattle away with superb lyricism by Casablancas. Numbers such as “Last Nite” and “Take It Or Leave It” are played with unparalleled adrenaline during live sets. They went on to tour across the world, holding concerts in New Zealand, Japan, Australia, United States and Europe. Their live sets held staining tenacity. Casablancas would leak strict lyricism before tossing the mic stand before guitar solos, Albert Hammond shuffled his feet in some fluid motion while recklessly strumming, Valensi’s face expressions accompanied by his swift guitar picking some sort-of neo-Jimmy Page outlook, Fraiture held a composed gargoyle posture while consistently laying the bass, and Moretti held a subtle smack to his groove-lead drum pounding. The band was signature, their potential saw no ceilings.

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In 2002, the band hit the studio for a pivotal follow-up record. With pockets full and overwhelming expectations, the band were penned to work with Grammy-winning producer, Nigel Godrich. Godrich has worked for other acts such as Beck and Radiohead, but the final outcome of the production was shelved. The group, instead went back to their original producer, Gordon Raphael, stating “[Godrich] made the songs seam soulless.” Room On Fire was then released in 2003, led by the single, “12:51.” By this time, the Strokes were a heavily publicized act and were well-known. Their music videos began to erupt in terms of their creativity, “12:51″ featured a clever Tron concept, while “The End Has No End” included stars, Mila Kunis and Eva Mendes. Julian’s lyricism progressed in the second LP, most notably in tracks such as “Between Love & Hate” and “Automatic Stop.” While the reviews weren’t as stellar as their debut, Room On Fire was a step forward for the group. “What Ever Happened” rubs next to touching emotions, “12:51″ takes a page from the The Cars, “Reptilia” is powerfully original and “Automatic Stop” is just simply a moving track. The band supported the album with a more exotic tour across the world, hitting locales like London, Brazil and Argentina.

The Strokes had begun working on their third record around 2005, the album was recorded over a 10-month period. Initially riding off their home producer, Gordon Raphael until Albert Hammond Jr. suggested producer, David Kahne (Sublime, Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett). The mesh between Raphael and Kahne never worked out, and Raphael ended up stepping down from the albums production. This marked eminent changes for the outlook of the record. The band’s third record, First Impressions of Earth, was then strokes-livereleased in January, 2006. It was their first LP with a “Parental Advisory” label. The overall sound of the record was more crisp, polished and noticeably different from their previous releases. Julian’s lyrics radiate stronger than ever on this record, as does Nick Valensi’s guitar. Fab Moretti’s drum fills are also felt. The record taints the ears much stronger than any other, with songs that smoothly string together, sporadically climaxing in their own respectful timetable. The first track, “You Only Live Once” to “Heart In A Cage” have the band in their most vibrant and loud sound to date. “On the Other Side” and “Vision of Division” pair together nicely, as “Killing Lies” to “Ize of the World” culminate the band’s strongest effort. The group explored many different aspects for the recording of this record. While Casablancas held the bulk of the songwriting, Moretti, Valensi and Fraiture all individually tapped song writing into three different songs. Despite harsh criticism, the record turned out to sound eccentrically well. Fab Moretti’s drumming flourish on tracks such as “Red Light,” and “Evening Sun.” Valensi’s guitar is heard infectiously through the album, peeling shivering guitar solos in “Vision of Division” and “Ize of the World.” Casablancas words are felt all through the record, especially “On the Other Side,” “Killing Lies,” “Fear of Sleep,” “15 Minutes (!),” and “Ize of the World.” The band then went on to tour extensively. Performing 18 sold-out shows in the UK, a tour in the U.S., another tour in Europe before performing another tour in the States. The band then went on to inform their manger, Giles about their much needed break.

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During this break, the band has embarked in their own solo projects. Albert Hammond Jr. released two solo albums. The band’s drummer, Moretti showed his flexibility in his own side project called Little Joy, where he plays guitar, bass, piano and sings backing vocals. Nikolai Fraiture released a solo album of his own, mostly consisting of folk-rock. Julian Casablancas then also went on to released his own solo record, saying he wanted to keep himself busy during the downtime of the band. Julian’s solo effort, Phrazes for the Young gained critical success.

As for the plans to reunite for the band’s fourth LP, the band had primarily set a release date for sometime in 2009. They began working on the record in January of the same year. Dispersively continuing more work that same summer and hoping for a release before the end of the year. With fans anxiously waiting, the group hasn’t been able to put the final touches on the record in 2009, with Casablancas revealing that the bulk of the album is done but there’s disagreements between some members as to what songs should make the cut. The band is expected to get together again in early 2010 to try and finalize the record after a four-year hiatus.

Despite how frustrating these delays have been to the band’s fans, the Strokes have separated themselves from many modern bands with their originality. Each member of the band are all talented musicians, and have meshed together magnificently to produce an authentic sound. Their return will be the tipping point of the band’s legacy, and will most likely be worth the long wait.

Thanks to Daniel Solis, danny124@gmail.com for submitting the biography.


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