Julian Casablancas distanced himself from the other four Strokes during the making of their fourth album in the hope they would come together and take control of the band’s creative process, which he had previously dominated. That happened — hence the recording and release of Angles — but Julian was largely removed from the process.
Julian, as you can read in the following excerpt from Pitchfork, recorded vocals by himself and sent them to the other Strokes via email. Nick Valensi, quite frankly, said that he would never work like that again.
Likewise, during the recording phase, most communication between Casablancas and the rest of the band took place via e-mail, and, according to Valensi, most of the singer’s ideas and suggestions were written “in really vague terms,” leaving the others without much to go on. Casablancas’ literal distance was quite deliberate, and to hear the singer tell it, the strategy was something he’d hoped to do from the beginning. “When I’m there, people might wait for me to say something. I think it took me being a little mute to force the initiative.”
While Casablancas’ disengagement may have been by design, Valensi found the whole experience deeply dissatisfying. “I won’t do the next album we make like this. No way. It was awful– just awful. Working in a fractured way, not having a singer there. I’d show up certain days and do guitar takes by myself, just me and the engineer.”