Julian Casablancas has become deeply interested in politics in recent years, evident on his 2014 album with the Voidz, which took aim at corrupt capitalism and police brutality, and the Strokes' recent Future Present Past EP, which included subtle references to the iniquities of Wall Street. In a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, Casablancas spoke at length about reading the work of progressive writers like Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges and visiting sites like progressive news site Truth Out. He has since launched a politics section on the web site of his label, Cult Records.
Now, Casablancas is ready to take on the role of journalist himself. He recently traveled to Hamilton, Canada, to interview Dr. Henry Giroux, an award-winning educational theorist and cultural critic who has written 62 books, including Youth in a Suspect Society – Democracy or Disposability? and Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education. Giroux's work stresses critical thinking, individualism and social responsibility and has critiqued topics including the education system, militarism, capitalism and the mainstream media. "In this current era of corporate media misdirection and misinformation," Casablancas says in the video, "Henry Giroux is one of the few great political minds of today with powerful insight into the truth."
In the video – which features a soundtrack of Bob Marley and Etta James – Casablancas interviews Giroux for a wide-ranging conversation that touches on topics including banks' control over government, why democracy is an illusion, deceptive journalism and the dangers of speaking truth to power.
The Strokes frontman also opens up about the roots of his own political awakening and his struggle to spread the word to the uninformed: "The burden is they don’t understand the burden," he says. "I grew up thinking, 'Democracy, we solved all those problems; they're old problems and we fixed it.' And frankly it's hard to face that. It's depressing … The struggle is whether or not you understand that there is a struggle going on."
In an e-mail to Rolling Stone, Casablancas expanded on why he chose to spotlight Giroux:
"Henry David Thoreau, Thomas Paine and MLK, the 3 greatest truth-sayers of American history, stood almost alone in their time, with tremendous eloquence, against the storms of cultural misinformation, prejudice and ignorance. In this spirit, Dr Giroux is defiantly explaining, against the grain, what's REALLY going on right now, and doing so quite undeniably.
"More incredibly, he’s almost completely off the mainstream's grid, partly due to his harsh critique and exposé of how corporations operate in a world where they have now gained total media control.
"In this interview, I wanted to bridge the gap between the in-depth progressive type interviews Henry normally does with a more simplified, CNN-level conversation. I just personally feel the need to help convey the poignancy of what I consider to be the truth, or at the least, to help display an alternative narrative, because it just so often gets swept under the rug."