Interview: Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr. Further Discuss The Strokes’ Hiatus

by Eric Van Dril · 99 comments

It seems like I’m writing the same headline every 2-3 days, but you have to trust me with this interview, which is a translation from a French magazine.

The interview is with Nick and Albert and both guitarists are very forthcoming about the problems within the band. The good thing is that there isn’t a negative spin put forth by the journalist. It’s just Albert and Nick talking.

After finishing the interview, it seems like one of the main reasons it took so long to get back together for Strokes IV was drug abuse…

R&F : Who had the idea to bring the band back together ?

Nick : “Me. I had been trying to do this for years. Before ‘Como te llama ?’ , I came to NY. We had a big meeting : ‘I’ve got songs I want to play with you, we have to play together again’. Albert said no, he wanted to release his album. It was frustrating. Everybody was ready. Even Julian. But Albert said : ‘Guys I love you, I want to keep on playing with the Strokes, but I have to do this record’. I think Julian got really angry. It was a very uncomfortable situation. There were weird tensions. This break was weird. We took a 4 or 5 year break but, during all these years, we met up several times to work on the new songs. The 5 of us. I wrote a lot and was very wilful, always asking the others to help me on my songs. And just as when we were ready to go for it, suddenly Julian tells us he wants to release his solo album. He had kept it secret and had waited for it to be done to tell us. We have 16 to 17 songs, and Julian wants to go on tour. He says : ‘Guys, while I’m at it, go in the studio and record it’. We said : ‘OK that’s exactly what we are going to do’ “

R&F: Albert, tell us about your solo escape

“I started working on Yours To Keep after recording FIOE, and I kept working on it everytime we came back from touring. Strange times. Just my personal battle. I remember, and it’s undoubtedly because of the drngs, being angry and not communicative. Actually, you fight against yourself, you don’t tell anyone and you blame it on the others”

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kimdiy March 20, 2011 at 9:08 am

@maria: on est au moins 4 1/2. je suis anglophone, mais capable de parler, d’écrire, etc…en français…ça compte, non? lol

2 alex March 20, 2011 at 9:46 am


yeah I believe he wrote it all, I mean Julian as a great multiinstrumental musician… he probably wrote it on keyboard and then they translated it to guitar, (like Ill Try Anything Once -> You Only Live Once) but he can also play some decent stuff on guitar, nothing like Albie and Nick though and he’s alot scrappier when he plays lol

3 Ema March 20, 2011 at 10:50 am

@ Kimdiy : tu parles/écris vraiment très bien, bravo !

@ AunomdelaFrance : “ce genre de trucs” = magazines “musicaux” ?

@ Tous les français : si vous êtes sur fessebouc, on a créé une petite communauté (The Strokes pourlespetitsfrançais), rejoignez-nous 😉

Sorry, I won’t speak French anymore !

4 Kimdiy March 20, 2011 at 11:13 am

@ema, ahhh merci, je l’apprécie beaucoup!!! je viens d’envoyer ma demande de joindre votre groupe sur FB 🙂
@à tous les autres: d’où viens-tu?

5 Gimli March 20, 2011 at 11:54 am

the strokes are back on the frontpage of itunes…that’s gotta count for something, right?

6 AunomdelaFrance March 20, 2011 at 12:10 pm

If you like Atari’s old fashioned games and the strokes, this guy is born to satisfy you

7 AunomdelaFrance March 20, 2011 at 12:20 pm

@Ema; J’ai jamais réussi à lire ces magazines, sauf les articles qui concernent un truc précis qui m’intéresse, et encore… Le ton généralement adopté et les analyses peu rigoureuses sont relativement insupportables. Les mecs brassent du vent sur des pages, te balancent des opinions aussi mûries que celles d’un éditorialiste sportif et se prennent pour les maîtres absolus du bon goût.

8 Kimdiy March 20, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I’ve been keeping an eye on Billboard as well and UCofD is charting on the Rock and Alternative songs. Rock=#28, Alternative=#13, both are jumps from the previous week. yippeee!!!

9 Ema March 20, 2011 at 12:50 pm

@AunodelaFrance : Tout à fait d’accord ! Mais les interviews d’artistes sont souvent intéressantes… je me souviens celle de Julian par les Inrocks l’année dernière était super !

10 Kevin March 20, 2011 at 12:56 pm

So what ever happened to the footage that Levi’s was supposed to post?

11 Kimdiy March 20, 2011 at 12:57 pm

yeah, that technical difficulties shit doesn’t fly with me….i’m assuming it was a ploy at this point to get traffic to their site. or am i that cynical? lol

12 layla March 20, 2011 at 3:51 pm
13 Kevin March 20, 2011 at 4:11 pm

OK, after listening to Angles about 15-20 times I’ve come to this conclusion:

Is This It
Room On Fire
First Impressions

There, I said it…

14 Kimdiy March 20, 2011 at 4:12 pm

@ kevin…I also think that Angles is their 2nd best album, but I am one of the few that thinks that FIOE is better than ROF so that’s all I would change if it was my list 🙂

15 alex March 20, 2011 at 4:36 pm

I am one of the fewer that think that RoF is better than ItI

16 Kimdiy March 20, 2011 at 4:43 pm

@alex: for realsies??? lol i thought it all sounded like a bad impression of songs from ITI (no offense to the band or anyone) I do enjoy the songs a lot but it didn’t impress me much from ITI, maybe because they were too similar and I like when a band progresses..

17 Kevin March 20, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Although I have First Impressions as my least favorite, I think that album has some of The Strokes’ best songs on it. Ize Of The World and Electicityscape come to mind…Even my least favorite album of theirs is good!

18 alex March 20, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Yeah! lol i see where youre coming from they didnt progress their sound, but I can’t win is my favorite strokes song and 12:51, reptilia, under control, meet me in the bathroom, automatic stop, the way it is, and the end has no end! those are great songs imo, but I am a crazy strokes fanatic so i love every strokes song that ever came out lol but i havent listened to Angles yet cause I wanna wait till tuesday, but from the 3 songs ive heard it could very well be one of my favorites…

19 Kimdiy March 20, 2011 at 5:41 pm

@alex, i can’t win is actually one of my bottom songs (but even those songs are really good), 12:51, automatic stop, are amongst my favourites. an easy way for me to judge the albums because there is so much dispute amongst fans (but it all boils down to personal taste) is how many songs on the album i’m completely in love with. ize of the world, heart in a cage, YOLO, are amongst my all time fav songs, and i really enjoy vision of division, ask me anything, juicebox, and dare i say electricityscape…so for me FIOE has more songs i enjoy i guess.

angles seem really disjointed the first listen through for me, but the more i hear it, the more it makes sense and the more i enjoy it, so hopefully you’ll be digging it too on tuesday.

20 alex March 20, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Yeah, Ize was the first solo i ever learned on guitar haha so i have ever since been in love with that song, YOLO is (Ill try anything once) one of the best Strokes songs, perfectly written, and like you said all those are great (Plus Red Light! I love that song), ive heard people say that album is so bad even unlistenable on here! idk, but i love that album, my friend even likes it the best of all the 1st 3 albums, but then again barely legal and someday are amongst my favs too so its really hard to decide haha but UCoD was great to me the first listen, jsut the whole hype thing with the site breaking down and everything built that day up to be so epic to me haha it was awesome, and You’re So Right was good imo because i love RoB on Jules album (which it has resemblance to) and Nickel Eye too, LiSitM was an instant top 5 for me, the chorus was catchy as hell lol but yeah like you said just diff tastes. I think alot of people think FIoE has too many slow songs or something but I LOVE Killing lies, fear of sleep, evening sun, and ask me anything personally, and 15 mins how it builds up is so sweet

21 thevigilanteoflove March 20, 2011 at 6:11 pm

So I was on the She’s Fixing Her Hair website looking at some of the live downloads, and the one from Alexandra Palace in 2003 was evidently supposed to be released as a live album in 2004 but was scrapped at the last minute due to quality issues. Needless to say, the recording sounds damn good and is better than any of the bootlegs I’ve heard since it’s still a professional recording. I’ve never seen The Strokes live, and this is holding me over until they hopefully tour the U.S.

Speaking of this, I really hope The Strokes release a live album soon. It would be so cool if it was a CD/DVD combo. I’d kill for something like that.

22 Kimdiy March 20, 2011 at 6:15 pm

@vigilante; where in the US are you? i was just wondering cuz i figured you would’ve gone to Lolla last year, or sxsw, or vegas, etc…

23 thevigilanteoflove March 20, 2011 at 6:18 pm

I’m in Ohio, so Lollapalooza was a possibility. My friends and I tried, but with work schedules and such it just didn’t work out. Coachella in Tennessee would be my best bet this year but I don’t think that’s going to work out either. When they’ve toured they’ve gone to at least Columbus or Cleveland, so that’s what I’m hoping for.

24 alex March 20, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Lollapalooza was insane! went all the way from Atl

25 alex March 20, 2011 at 6:23 pm

*The Strokes @ Lollapalooza was insane

26 Kimdiy March 20, 2011 at 6:25 pm

@alex, I was there too, all the way from Canada. met a lot of cool americans there
@vigilante, well i’m sure they’ll go somewhere close to you cuz you gotta see them live for sure. 🙂

27 alex March 20, 2011 at 6:43 pm

@kimidiy yeah it was my first live strokes show! i was right up front… before that i had only been to a jules show, which was still awesome though

28 Kimdiy March 20, 2011 at 7:10 pm

@alex, me too!!! i originally went ‘cuz of soundgarden (which was beyond words), but i looked at the lineup after we bought the tix and the strokes became my new reason for going and that’s all i cared to see. my husband recorded parts of the show, so i have those videos to last me.
i was at the left by the speaker, and i’m glad i wasn’t any closer cuz it looked like a smushy mess up front.
i was also super pissed at whoever yelled at julian that he was talking too much so he ended up stopping, cuz i enjoy hearing those little quips by bands, it makes the concert more unique.
i’d love to see julian live! that’s my next quest.

29 wolfman March 20, 2011 at 7:48 pm


30 alex March 20, 2011 at 8:51 pm

@kimdiy I was on the other side of the middle barrier in the front! I have 2 videos, NYCC and VoD theyre awesome! yeah I thought the guy’s intention was to request the song “YTWTM” but yeah it sucks, and Jules’ concert was awesome, got to help Jules keep his balance from getting knocked off a chair in the crowd, kinda like locked arms lol, best day ever!

31 Kimdiy March 20, 2011 at 9:12 pm

@alex, awww VoD is one of my fav’s and I don’t have that one. i got Heart in a Cage, NYCC, Last Nite, reptilia, and Hard to Explain. do you have it on youtube or just on your pc cuz I’d love to watch it??

32 Tobz March 20, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Angles got 5.9 from pitchfork hahaha

33 Mandingo March 20, 2011 at 11:22 pm

“Everyone wants to quit while they’re ahead…some actually do it.” Fuck off pitchfork. You’re also advertising the album on your banner. Twas expected from them.

34 wolfman March 20, 2011 at 11:45 pm

fuck pitchfork. all of their shit reviews have me boiling in hatred right now. the sad thing is so many hipster posers base their musical taste on their ratings.

35 wolfman March 21, 2011 at 12:10 am
36 wolfman March 21, 2011 at 12:15 am

guess who reviewed angles? the same guy who gave kanye a perfect 10.0

37 patrick March 21, 2011 at 4:56 am

even though i detest pitchfork. they gave terrible reviews to casablancas solo albumand FIOE. which in my opinion wasnt merited.
With this review they hit the nail on the head. Its a poor, disjointed album with no focus or energy. Terrible effort from some of the best musicians in the world.

38 thevigilanteoflove March 21, 2011 at 5:11 am

I guess this type of score was expected from Pitchfork, but it still irks me a little bit. They are so pathetically predictable.

39 Piss March 21, 2011 at 5:14 am

@Patrick, i kinda agree. Whenever I listen to UCOD, its like I cant believe the strokes made such a lacklustre song, just so uninteresting. I also think that a lot of people didnt give PFTY a chance because of the synths but with the exception of 2 songs, the rest were great. FIOE still my fav album.
Here comes the ‘BUT’.. I dont agree that the whole album being poor.I love LiSitM(even the album version is growing on me), Gratisfication n Two kinds of happiness (its FIOE 80’s version)..the rest are pretty cool(though cant listen to the rest that many times a day). Metabolism is okay..but I wonder how Julian intended it to be.
Not saying you are wrong..but try listening to some of the tracks..its still awesome in parts. Hmm..its only that this album is like ROF to me without ‘Reptilia’ (i know sm ppl feel that there are bttr songs on tht album but this is just my opinion)no..’wow what a perfect song’..just average to good. Some songs start and end the same way, it doesnt take me places..its just..
Yeah hope Julian works on the next one with them in the studio.

40 Brian Wallace March 21, 2011 at 5:26 am

I like “Room On Fire” better than “Is This It”, too.

For a band that loves Guided By Voices so much, how come they turn into Steely Dan? Releasing only 49 original songs (46 albums tracks and 3 B-sides) in 10 years is kind of pathetic.
Robert Pollard sometimes releases 49 songs in a week!

Thank you,

Brian Wallace

41 patrick March 21, 2011 at 5:53 am


Ive listened to it loads, its kind of vacant to me. tame lyrics, musianship just ok.

Is this it, room on foire and first impressions are all equeal for me.

42 Brian Wallace March 21, 2011 at 6:42 am

Am I the only one who thinks “Ready To Start” by The Arcade Fire sounds like “Last Nite?”


43 tom March 21, 2011 at 7:13 am

the strokes headlining Reading and Leeds Festivals

44 Eric Van Dril March 21, 2011 at 8:06 am

@Brian Yes.

45 annie March 21, 2011 at 8:31 am

yeah but the strokes ripped that riff too. so it’s not clear who’s ripping who and i guess in this genre of music it’s not that surprising that such as simple opening would go around.

46 Eric Van Dril March 21, 2011 at 8:52 am

@Tom — Where’s this from?

47 Brian Wallace March 21, 2011 at 5:00 pm

I thought the Pitchfork review was more or less accurate as far as what they had to say about the album and the bad, but I thought the score they gave it was too low. No way it should get a 5.9, the same score as First Impressions of Earth…

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