Julian Casablancas: The Early Years

by Eric Van Dril · 6 comments

Julian is back from the jukebox and there are new drinks lined up. He’s chosen three dollars of music: some from The Harder They Come, some not. ‘Some Johnny Cash, some Patsy Cline,’ he says. ‘I’m in a country mood tonight. A let’s-get-drunk-and-remember-the-good-old-days mood.’

He is being wry. He insists that he remembers almost nothing of his early life. ‘I have a really vague memory’, he murmurs. His parents had met in Paris, his mother was a model from Denmark; his Spanish father was setting up a modeling agency. They moved to New York where his father started the Elite model agency and a single son was born.

When he was about 7, his parents’ marriage fell apart. This is what he says about it: ‘Basically, when my parents got divorced… I don’t know… everything was, I don’t know… I’m not trying to say that’s like why… it’s just, they got divorced. My mum was fucking miserable and I just lived with her crying every day and that was my life, so I fucking didn’t hate my dad but – I don’t want to say that now because I get along with him now fine, but I did, I did.’

Did you see your father much?

‘No. I would see him sometimes, but I didn’t like the whole vibe of it because my mum was in hell. And I was living with my mum. And you know, walk into the bathroom and your mum’s fucking crying and you start crying and it just fucking sucks you know. Whatever…’

He offers other occasional flashes of his youth. When he was 11 or 12, at school in New York, he realised that his role as the class clown didn’t work for him: ‘being the clown meant that girls just wanted to be my friend’. So he changed. ‘I remember all of a sudden just being really serious and all of a sudden girls would like me. It was strange.’ He was doing badly in school and his father suggested he went to the posh Swiss boarding school his father had attended and loved. His father was European and loved sports; Julian grew up in New York. ‘It was a total clash’, Julian says. ‘He didn’t know. He doesn’t like New York that much. See, I love New York. Hanging out in the street, that’s what I wanted to do.’

He hated Switzerland. The weekends were the worst. ‘All these kids would go out to town and I guess my parents didn’t give me pocket change or whatever these other kids had, and the whole weekend was me sitting in my room by myself’, he remembers. ‘I was just fucking depressed, you know. I’d walk around. Sometimes I’d play basketball by myself. I did that a lot’.

It was his stepdad, a painter called Sam Adoquei, who showed him the way he would go. He hadn’t been much interested in music, though there was one moment the previous summer when Nikolai played him a Pearl Jam song, ‘Yellow Ledbetter’.

‘I was like, “Wow, that’s pretty and it makes me feel something special that I don’t usually feel that I like to feel”,’ he recalls. ‘It made me feel stronger’. His stepdad gave him a CD: The Best of the Doors. One weekend he lay on his bed, listening, and he felt like he understood it: ‘There was so much different shit – cool instrumental shit, cool lyrical shit, there was some cool singing stuff. I said “fuck that’s what I want to do”‘.

(Via an outstanding long-form piece.)

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pat August 24, 2010 at 1:24 am

Despite the typos in that article, that was a great read! That may be my favorite interview of the guys! Thanks Eric!

P.S. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that performance of H2E on Leno!

2 Pat August 24, 2010 at 1:25 am

NVM. I have. Didn’t know that was on Leno.

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