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The Strokes' Julian Casablancas Performs Solo Set in Tokyo

September 3, 2009 3:03 PM ET

The Strokes' Julian Casablancas and a six-piece live band performed a solo concert on September 1st at Tokyo, Japan's Duo Music Exchange, giving fans an eight-song preview of what they'll hear on his upcoming debut solo album Phrazes for the Young. Whereas the Strokes are known for their stripped-down throwback rock & roll, Casablancas' solo venture finds the singer experimenting with drum machines, synths and violins. "Introducing new instruments into the Strokes would be like adding new characters to a sitcom," Casablancas tells Rolling Stone. "With this CD, I wanted to do everything."

The Tokyo concert opened with a performance of "Out of the Blue," a standout track that Rolling Stone's Austin Scaggs described as a raucous love song after Casablancas played it for him for a recent In the Studio story. "I'm going to hell in a leather jacket, at least I'll be in another world while you're pissing on my casket," Casablancas sings on the tune. All eight of Phrazes' songs were performed in Tokyo, including "River of Brake Lights," "Glass" and "Ludlow St." that the Smoking Section mentioned back in July. (We'd embed a song or two from the Tokyo show, but RCA is smacking them off YouTube at a startling rate.)

For Phrazes for the Young — a nod to Oscar Wilde's "Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young," which was the album's greatest inspiration — Casablancas teamed with engineer Jason Leder and Bright Eyes/Monsters of Folk multi-instrumentalist Mike Mogis, as well as Jenny Lewis' touring guitarist Blake Mills on a few tracks. When Casablancas embarks on a tour in support of Phrazes, he expects to have Strokes' guitarist Nick Valensi in tow.

"[The Strokes] seem very excited for me, which makes me happy," Casablancas tells Rolling Stone. "So far, so good." Since the release of First Impressions of Earth, almost all the Strokes have gone the side project/solo route: Albert Hammonds Jr. has released a pair of solo discs, bassist Nikolai Fraiture became Nickel Eye and drummer Fabrizio Moretti aligned with Little Joy. However, the Strokes have penciled in March 2010 for their next album, with Casablancas telling RS the band has a "boatload" of songs.


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S.S. Exclusive: Julian Casablancas Releases Phrazes For the Young!!!

 

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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