Guitarist Nick Valensi claims that recording the new Strokes album was an 'awful' experience. So how are we supposed to enjoy a record we know the band hated making so much?
If I was to start this blog by declaring that it was a really annoying writing experience, the copy filing system I used was playing up, the bloke behind me wouldn't shut up about some fishing trip he took at the weekend and I really couldn't think of a decent intro other than this load of toss ? well, you're probably about to click away already, right?
And yet that seems to be the tactic the Strokes are employing ? on an alarmingly regular basis ? to promote their fourth album, Angles. Just this week, Nick Valensi told Pitchfork: "I won't do the next album like this. No way. It was awful ? just awful. Working in a fractured way, not having a singer there."
Fun times! But statements like these are no anomaly. In fact, only a couple of months ago Valensi was back on the campaign trail with MySpace Music, providing Strokes fans with words they've longed to hear: "There are still undertones of hostility and resentment in the band." When asked why Angles was coming out now he said: "Maybe everyone needed money or something. We gotta pay our mortgage so may as well get this going again."
Tongue in cheek? Possibly, but that doesn't mean it's not true. The sessions themselves, after all, have been so unpleasant that singer Julian Casablancas didn't turn up for most of them, arriving to add his vocals and then buggering off, no doubt to get well away from those undertones of hostility and resentment.
In 2009, I interviewed Casablancas about his retro-futurist solo album Phrazes for the Young. During our discussion (a rather torturous experience in itself) Casablancas made the Angles sessions sound like a living hell, having to appease everyone's creative urges for the sake of inter-band harmony rather than a decent finished product.
"I want Thin Lizzy-style, kung-fu rock with cool 80s melodies," he said, before extinguishing this enthusiasm. "But there's only a 20% chance it'll end up being that."
You might applaud the Strokes for at least being honest, rather than making out all is fine and dandy when they actually detest each other. On the other hand, how is a fan supposed to feel knowing that sessions for their favourite band's new album was such a depressing experience for all involved? All this bickering and moaning hardly fits in with the image of the Strokes as effortlessly cool and elegantly wasted NYC rockers. It also does the band an injustice as the album sounds far better to these ears than they've made it sound ? certainly an improvement on First Impressions Of Earth.
Artists have slated their own material plenty of times in the past, of course ? earlier this month Lupe Fiasco told the Guardian he hated his third album, Lasers: "When I look at it I don't see the songs, I see the fight." Often, though, these kind of comments ? see also the Las ? only serve to bolster the myth.
But that's the thing. It's not that the Strokes sessions sound like they were bad (in the sense of fist fights, drug habits and exploding drummers) ? just depressing and tedious. Not that we should be too worried, though, as Valensi promises: "I feel like we have a better album in us, and it's going to come out soon."
Can't wait! So what do you think ? does the making of the Strokes' Angles sound like the recording session from hell? Or are there other similarly tedious sessions that crawl slowly to mind?