American Songwriter conducted an interview with Julian Casablancas before a show in Nashville. The interview was posted this morning and, in my eyes, it’s one of the more insightful interviews he’s ever given about his craft.
I’ll post three excerpts following this paragraph, but just in order to entice you into clicking the link above, other topics discussed include: The need for isolation while working on music, the mutual love between Julian and Arctic Monkeys and which band would be the most popular in Julian’s utopia.
I know you can play a lot of instruments and you played a lot of different things on Phrazes For The Young. Is there some particular thing you find yourself picking up more often to write with — a guitar, a piano, a sampler?
I pick up whatever’s near, I guess. The thing I use a lot now [reaches in pocket and pulls out a matching digital recorder to the one I am using to record the interview ] –- cheers, ding -– is this digital recorder thing. I used to do everything by memory back in the day. I don’t know, some fascination with the Greek poets, you know they just memorized everything. So I’d be working between one and three parts, or songs, at a time. But when I started a few years ago recording stuff, I realized listening back, the things I thought were great were sometimes mediocre -– and the things I forgot about, that I thought were nothing, were great. And it kind of freaked me out. So now I record everything, and I have thousands of [recordings]- so I just play all the time and if I feel like I’m doing something that could be cool I just record it. Give work for future Julian. That’s what I do.
Do you find yourself writing much, when you are on the road?
More than ever before on this tour actually. Its been pretty great. Yeah the drummer, he kind of made a song. We called it “Beat” but it was pretty elaborate. We worked on it together — it was kind of rad -– so I’ve been relatively productive, way more than ever before on the road.
When you were a kid did you hear a particular song, riding in a friend’s car or something, and it kind of made a connection, where you thought you might want to start making music?
Yeah actually, my best friend kind of. His brother had a friend who got a bootleg of like – what was that B-side at the time… “Yellow Ledbetter?” It was…
Oh yeah Pearl Jam, I remember that.
But he had like a tape, it sounded terrible at the time. You could barely make out… [imitates Eddie Vedder singing momentarily] …it was very muffled. But that song was the first time I like, felt weird… that music reached deeper. Not that I never really… I mean… I liked music. But [up to that point] it was never the main thing in my life. That was the first song where I felt weirdly moved by it.