When I saw that Vulture had posted an oral history of The Strokes yesterday, I had to save it for a nighttime read. Articles that like must be enjoyed without interruption, without worrying someone might knock on your door, without being rushed. Have you read it yet? You don’t have to be a Strokes fan to get into it. I’m not a hardcore Strokes fan. I have Is This It, my favourite song on that album is Trying Your Luck. But it’s definitely not in regular rotation on my playlists. Which probably means I have the musical taste of an asshole – a fact confirmed in this article by the band members themselves and the music intelligentsia supporting their legacy when they declare that they were (are?) superior to both The Killers and Kings Of Leon, two bands I prefer over The Strokes.
That’s not the point though. The point is that this is the kind of sh-t talk we’re getting here from The Strokes as they remember their rise and fall. Part of the reason behind the fall was that they didn’t know what they wanted. And the way I read it here, they were afraid to want what they wanted. Or ostensibly, they didn’t want it at all – and that always adds to the allure, to their alleged “rock cool”. Which is why pieces like this are referred to as “rock history” as opposed to… straight up gossip. But it IS gossip.
It’s definitely gossip when Ryan Adams comes up. They talk a lot of sh-t about Ryan Adams. And Ryan Adams inadvertently talks a lot of sh-t about himself. Basically Julian Casablancas thinks Ryan Adams is an asshole for getting Albert Hammond Jr on heroin and Ryan Adams, well, Ryan Adams makes himself look like an asshole all by himself. His story about John Mayer alone, right off the top of the piece, pretty much seals it. But then again, I’ve never enjoyed Ryan Adams. Remember, Ryan Adams is the guy who broke up once with Mandy Moore and explained to the tabloids that he did it because he wanted to “remain punk as f-ck”. Mandy Moore finally got a hit show after she divorced. I will never, ever believe that that’s not a coincidence. Hilariously The Strokes “broke up” with Ryan Adams by calling a summit at a bar where, basically, they told him they didn’t want to be friends anymore. But, you know, this is not Mean Girls. Because these people are not girls, they’re rock musicians. So, remember, this isn’t gossip, it’s “rock history”.
The “rock history” continues with The Strokes’ association with Courtney Love. Here’s when they talk about how f-cked up Courtney was at the time they were hanging out. And then their manager describes her being all “strung out and drunk” and that “it was almost embarrassing” the way she “was running up and down the hallways naked”. Sure. But not two quick scrolls later down the page, one of their own is using heroin and they were drunk on stage during their performances and fighting all the time, and amazingly, no judgment, just “rock cool”. Selectively, of course. It reminds me of a great essay I read a couple of years ago by Molly Beauchemin for Pitchfork when Montage Of Heck, the Kurt Cobain documentary, and Amy, Asif Kapadia’s film about Amy Winehouse, were both released within weeks of each other. Molly called it “the Gendering of Martyrdom” and you get a sense of it here, as a possible explanation to what happened to The Strokes – they were the victims of their own talent, of the masterpiece of their first album. It’s not like we all don’t do it or haven’t done it. Just look at Johnny Depp and the behaviour that we’ve willingly excused on his part that we probably wouldn’t if it were a woman – because he’s Johnny Depp, he’s Marlon Brando incarnate, the “eccentricities” come with the art.
Click here to read The Strokes oral history at Vulture and to see more photos.
Yours in gossip,