Interviews: Nikolai Fraiture Talks About Excluding Julian & The Evolution of The Strokes

by Eric Van Dril · 32 comments

News about The Strokes’ fourth album keeps pouring in. Earlier, Nick Valensi talked about a variety of things with MySpace (some unsettling, some not), the tracklisting for Angles was released today and now Spin.com has released a story where Nikolai provides even more details about the making of Strokes IV.

This interview is full of interesting nuggets, including how The Strokes took more chances this time around, as Julian played with backing vocals and the band experimented with the production of Angles.

The most interesting excerpts, in my eyes, are…

Fraiture says the band previously shied away from too much production, worried they wouldn’t be able to replicate the sounds live. This time, partially inspired by albums by MGMT, Arctic Monkeys, and Crystal Castles, which “had some production stuff that I liked,” says Fraiture, the band experimented with new instruments and more technology, including MIDI electronic samples and Farfisa keyboards. They also overdubbed more guitars, and Casablancas toyed with vocal layers.

But other tracks, including “You’re So Right,” a song Fraiture brought in, have a “harder vibe.” “The production is different than we’re used to,” he says. “It’s one of those songs that will be more difficult to replicate live. Julian is doing a lot of background vocals and playing with those tracks as instruments come in and out.”

“We wrote and rehearsed together as the four of us,” Fraiture explains. “Then we’d send the track over to Julian. There was a lot of back and forth. I don’t know if Julian had trouble being with us — I don’t know what was going through his mind. There were tensions. But it worked.”

Read the entire article here.

Also, don’t you find it interesting that Nikolai, Nick and Albert have been the three band members to do all of the interviews thus far? It’s like Julian said ‘You all need to make up for the weight I’ve carried over the years.’

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 siobhan January 25, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Anyone else notice that there’s been nothing from Julian himself yet aside from a few half-arsed tweets confirming what the other band members have already said? I’ll happily hold out but where’s the joy? Speaking of which Fab’s been quiet too. So excited that only a few weeks left. Thanks for posting these!

2 Brian Wallace January 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm

The Spin article says the album’s out March 28th, which is weird since that’s a Monday. Do they mean a day later (March 29th) and it’s been delayed a week?

Thank you,

Brian Wallace

3 Nicky January 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I think any “weight” Julian has carried over the years was probably by choice. I doubt that’s what he was thinking (‘You all need to make up for the weight…’). There was an interview with Julian around the time they reunited (last summer) where he talked about relinquishing control and letting the other 4 guys take the reins. I think that’s more everybody’s mindset.
Just sayin’.

It is funny, though. We’ve heard Nikolai talk more in the last month than he has during the entire tenure of the band.

4 Ben January 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm

@brian looks like thestrokes.com has the official dates, updated as of a couple hours ago

Global Album Release Dates

Canada – Tuesday, 22 Mar
Czech Republic – Monday, 21 Mar
Finland – Monday, 21 Mar (digital), Wednesday, 23 Mar (CD)
France, Monday, 21 Mar
Germany – Friday, 18 Mar
Hungary – Monday, 21 Mar
Italy – Tuesday, 22 Mar
Japan – Wednesday, 23 Mar
New Zealand – Monday, 21 Mar
Netherlands – Monday, 21 Mar
Poland – Monday, 21 Mar
Portugal – Monday, 21 Mar
Russia – Tuesday, 22 Mar
Spain – Monday, 21 Mar
Sweden – Friday, 18 Mar
UK – Monday, 21 Mar
US – Tuesday, 22 Mar

5 Luke January 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm

It’s good to see thestrokes.com have more updates than just letting us know when one member of the band has a birthday..

6 siobhan January 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Why do Germany and Sweden get priority?

7 siobhan January 25, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Oh I just saw the bit below the article – sorry didn’t mean to repeat your point!

8 patrick January 25, 2011 at 2:36 pm

This just seems like a shadow of the band everyone fell for in 2001. theyre no longer a band of brothers, and if nick is right and theyre just doing it for cash, then its sad.
I dont hold out this album being much good, anyone whos heard nickeleye would agree that he shouldnt be bringing any tracks to the strokes. If Julian isn’t writing all the lyrics then all is fuckin well lost.

9 Chris January 25, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Patrick, i’m very nervous about this album too. It seems Julian’s contribution is minnimal in this one. Which sucks because his is most important. But then agiain, I don’t like the direction of Phrazes. I’m hoping for classic strokes sound in Angles but I don’t think thats the case. I hate it when (good) bands wanna do different things.

10 annie January 25, 2011 at 3:56 pm

I’m inclined to agree at least from what we’ve heard so far – in each of the new interviews they’ve brought up tensions and resentments which doesn’t sound great. I hope Julian’s directing it. I also didn’t like the comment Nick made about doing it for the money because it just repeats what Julian said about why they toured over the summer – they’re making it sound like the album’s just a cash cow as they to replicate their first one and give the audience what they want rather than experimenting and moving forward as a group of musicians. I don’t want a version of the same. It’s still early days yet though – hopefully this is just a poor reflection of their motivations for making the album. Nikolai did say that things are great between them now. Though I do wish we could hear something from Julian – he doesn’t sound excited from his tweets, more just resigned to mind-numbing promotion…. The description of the songs sounds pretty great though so it’s impossible to tell. Maybe Julian’s waiting to see what the critics say and then he’ll say how involved he is.

11 Lewis January 25, 2011 at 4:12 pm

I think people should actually wait until they’ve heard the album before they make judgements as to how the band’s current personal relationships could be affecting the music. Some of the best albums ever made wouldn’t have been nearly as good if there was not an element of intra-band friction.

However, I do find it a bit funny that in the In Transit documentary from a decade ago when Julian is asked how the Strokes’ fourth record will sound he replies (obviously jokingly) “It’s all about the money” and it will contain “whatever the market needs”. Maybe this prophecy is actually coming true :P ?

12 annie January 25, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Hahaahaa yes! It’ll be so sad if it’s just a money-spinner and i’m as sad for their music as i am for their friendship because that completely infused their music and brought so much fun and charisma to their live performances. Does anyone else think it’s weird that Nick said; “I really want to just get in a room with the band and share ideas. We really haven’t done that yet. I’ve been trying to rally the troops again. I don’t know exactly when we’re gonna do that.” They’re just about to release an album and their first single apparently comes out in two weeks and they haven’t even been in a room together “yet” – whatver time frame that puts on it. I know Nikolai said their band’s like a marriage but the album’s starting to sound like the kid shuffled between parents in a custodial battle.

13 Sam January 25, 2011 at 5:00 pm

I like the idea of a band trying some new techniques in the studio, to compliment their sound. For example, I probably don’t like the Arctic Monkeys 3rd album as much their 1st, however I do respect them a whole lot more for branching out.
The Strokes will never write another album like ‘Is This It’. That album was groundbreaking, and completely changed the perception of modern rock ‘n’ roll. Try and listen and judge their new material on its on merit and not just compare it to their earlier work.

14 Bernardo January 25, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Aghh, I thik like everyone else, I see this upcoming album as more then just new band material, but as an opportunity to possibly give us back the Strokes from “In Transit” the group of friends that I fell in love with.

15 Ibrahim January 25, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Personally, i find that ‘First Impressions of Earth’ and ‘Phrazes for The Young’ are far more elaborated projects than ‘Is This It’. Of course, there may be some fillers on the first one, but it’s impossible not to praise an album that contains Juicebox, YOLO, Heart in a Cage, Razorblade, Electricityscape, Ize of the World, Vision of Division and Red Light! I think these tunes synthesize the power of ‘Is This It’ and naturally take it to the next level.

As for ‘Phrazes for the Young’, how is it possible not to fall in love with Glass, River of Brakelights, Tourist… or even a b-side, 30 minutes boyfriend, that is to me, with Ize of the World, the greatest masterpiece Julian has ever written? Of course there are the timeless ones, Hard to Explain, The Modern Age, Last Nite… but it’s still classic rock, while the former really bring freshness to music in general and not only to the current musical landscape.

And when Nick says he wants to share ideas with the band, I think he just wants to see if anybody has got ideas of songs for their hypothetical 5th album. And I don’t think there’s any need to worry about the “undertones of hostility and resentment”… when everyone participates to the composition of an album, there will obviously be some arguments because each member will want to see his idea through to completion.

So there’s no need to worry, this album is going to kick asses, let’s wait for this “rough wall of jangle over a hip-hop grind”!

16 Mary Shea January 25, 2011 at 8:19 pm

I think the reason Julian isn’t doing interviews is because 1) he doesn’t like doing interviews and 2) frankly, he sucks at them. He makes his fans frustrated and hopeless because he is so apathetic and blase about everything. Nick and Nikolai may still mention existing tension, but I think the way they communicate it is preferable. As for everything else. Well. I need to ignore it. I just need to hear the album. I just need to hear the album.

17 Mary Shea January 25, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Or perhaps they just rolled a die lol a far simpler solution (die for singular, dice for plural…no?! hah)

18 wolfman January 25, 2011 at 8:25 pm

i think its gonna be pretty fucking great

19 thevigilanteoflove January 25, 2011 at 8:43 pm

The talk of tension in the band does scare me, but the fact that they have overcome this tension to come together and collaborate on an album says more about them. I am still unbelievably excited for any new material from The Strokes at all. I didn’t start listening to them until 2007, so I have had four years to completely absorb the first three albums and the EP, and anything new is exciting. The only thing we can do now is wait until it comes out and see what the heck took so long and if it’s worth it. If it isn’t so great, it won’t change my opinion of the three albums that I already love so much, and if it’s amazing, all the better.

20 SharonGuitar500 January 25, 2011 at 10:34 pm

About that last bit, no. Not interesting. I find it more like…. worrying. I’ve been dreading something like this since I heard about Julian recording separately. But maybe Mary Shea is right. Julian sucks at interviews. There was one last year, I think it was with NME, that really made me angry. About wanting the other members to “spread their wings.” It’s not like it’s a bad thing, but he said it the wrong way, sounded as though he thought the others were useless :(. At least the others make you excited, not depressed XD

21 ANdres January 25, 2011 at 11:02 pm

We should keep in mind what Rolling Stone said about the album:
“better than Is This It”…Is that even possible?

Hey, if the guys at Rolling Stone said that, I’m gonna assume that the album is going to be pretty shweeeet.

22 kylma January 26, 2011 at 3:29 am

Actually they said “best album since Is This It

23 Juice January 26, 2011 at 5:09 am

The expectations alone could possibly kill this next album. Am afraid of my own anticipation. Hopefully it won’t be an album which requires an ‘acquired taste’. Angles, please make it easy for all of us faithful fans to love you!

24 Brian Wallace January 26, 2011 at 6:15 am

I think we should pump our brakes. Let’s not get all Jay Cutler on the Strokes. Examining and parsing every word and phrasing of an interview and then assuming your guesses are correct…. It’s the 21st century disease.

We should all RELAX. Nothing’s “worrying.” “Angles” may be great. It may be not so great. The band may never be as close. The band may not be able to stand each other. We can’t affect that. We shouldn’t even try. Just listen to the music. Enjoy the music. See them in concert if you can. Life goes on.

All, this “Well, Nick said this…and Julian isn’t saying anything and THAT means THIS….and look at that picture….”

Relax.

It’s silly.

Brian

25 Guy January 26, 2011 at 9:52 am

Brian is absoluetly right, try to be cool about it.
Anyway, Julian has got a family now, maybe that’s why he doesn’t take the time to do interviews.

26 wolfman January 26, 2011 at 3:17 pm

damn, i had a dream i was listening to the record. this thing’s taking over my life!

27 Miranda February 3, 2011 at 3:31 pm

I don’t think that we should dwell on Julian’s absence in the lieu of their forthcoming album. He has a family now. And as he’s said before in previous interviews he put his heart and soul into The Strokes, but in order for them to work he has to take a step back. I think he’s a little bit of a perfectionist and that might be difficult for the “group” to deal with at times. I don’t really know, but does it matter? He’s also said that he doesn’t want to leave The Strokes ever. I feel like we should be happy about this. The band is working together as a more collaborative force now and if sending things back and forth works for them, who are we to judge? That’s great. They’re finally working together, and this album is going to be absolutely amazing. And besides, let’s not fret. We still have about two months before the record is released. Surely Julian will do an interview or something before then. Plus, it’s not that they don’t like each other. It’s that they have trouble working together because of all of their different personalities. They clash, but in a good way when you see the final product.You see their different styles in their solo work. If “First Impressions” is the worst thing they can do, that’s just awesome. I loved that album. There is no reason to be negative. I don’t think Julian thinks his bandmates are “useless”. He never says anything bad about them, and he’s said their previous problems are behind them. I think he’s just ready for them all to be able to be the face of the band, per se. The Strokes isn’t just one person. It’s five people. Five extremely talented people, and they all worked super hard on this. So the point is, the album is going to be wonderful whenever we see it. If it’s delayed a week, which is probably just a typo, so what? It might be even better that way. Maybe. Who knows?

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