For this latest installment of Best of YouTube, we turn our attention to a subject so notoriously press-shy and famously uncooperative in interviews, the very idea of showcasing their best moments on the world’s largest video-sharing platform would appear somewhat paradoxical. Not to our own Katie Muxworthy who has selflessly rounded up the very best bits we could find on YouTube featuring the one and only frontman of New York’s finest The Strokes, Julian Casablancas, for your viewing pleasure! After recently releasing new music in the form of arguably one of the records of this year Tyranny with his new group, The Voidz, and seemingly always on the verge of teasing new Strokes news we’re as Jules mad than ever so let’s have a look at some of his most watchable moments.
Just what Reading needed – 2011
Remember that time when Jarvis Cocker joined The Strokes on stage at Reading Festival to do a pretty epic cover of The Cars’ ‘Just What I Needed’ back in 2011? Pretty fucking incredible wasn’t it? The two front men together sounded like they were meant to be, as their voices seamlessly chanted away. The crowd was in a frenzy, the guitar riffs were exceptional, and 3 years on I’m still kicking myself that I wasn’t there.
On the road, on camera – 2002
A complete rarity, like seeing a dog walk on its hind legs, or something like that. In 2002 behind the scenes footage was documented of The Strokes’ European tour. The forty minute short film In Transit is directed by Steven Spielberg no less, and filmed by the band themselves. The documentary features a complete original score by Albert Hammond Jr. too. Basically a home movie, you see the band conduct sarcastic interviews amongst themselves, antics on the road and you even catch The Strokes gathering behind their tour bus to give it a push start; proper rock n’ roll.
‘I Wish It Was Christmas Today’ – 2009
What better way to start feeling festive than a JC rendition of ‘I Wish It Was Christmas Today’. Released in 2009, the unexpected venture into the cheesy Christmas musical charts was pipped to the number one spot by the campaign to get Rage Against The Machine’s infamous ‘Killing in the Name’ to the top. Nevertheless, all thrashy guitars, trademark fuzzy vocals from Casablancas and no shortage of sleigh bells, it’s definitely a welcome change from any schmoozy reality TV star efforts. Stick this on and try not to eat a mince pie.
‘You Only Live Once’ – 2006
For this standout single taken from their underwhelming third LP First Impressions of Earth, the band enlisted the services of noted music video director Samuel Bayer for this promo in which the quintet, resplendent all in white, steadily drown in black liquid as the small room they’re performing in is flooded. The idea is, the room is supposed to represent their lungs filling with harmful toxins from smoking but it’s more likely that Bayer just decided to off them all for making such a crappy album in the first place.
Heading to another dimension – 2009
’11th Dimension’ was the first release from Julian Casablancas’ debut solo album Phrazes for the Young back in 2009. Drum machines and synthesizers gave a taster for the anticipated solo sound that The Strokes fans had been waiting to hear from the frontman. This two-part series explores Casablancas’ concept for the video, the creative process behind the track itself and attempts to make some sort of bizarre sense of the pre CGI/animation filmography from the singer and director Warren Fu.
‘I’ll Try Anything Once’ – 2010
The audience at 2010’s Coachella Festival were treated to the classic Strokes ballad ‘I’ll Try Anything Once’, perfectly showing off Casablancas’ ability to write a dreamy track accompanied by solo keys. First released as a B-side to an early single, Julian croons onstage in trademark red skinny jeans and a beaten-up leather jacket. The audience can be heard perfectly singing along with the lines “Everybody was well dressed, everybody was a mess” to this sweet melodic track.
MTV 2$ Bill concert – 2002
‘Take It Or Leave It’ is the track that ultimately highlights the perfected energetic, hypnotic sense of urgency that made The Strokes so special. In the 2002 MTV 2$ Bill concert the band performed a hour-long set, showcasing songs such as ‘New York City Cops’ and ‘Hard to Explain’. In this video, with unseen footage, you can see Jules clamber through the seated audience whilst Albert Hammond Jr. thrashes out his brief but brilliant guitar solo with the cool nonchalant approach to rock n’ roll that The Strokes all but perfected in the early 2000s.
“Can I VHS you?” – 2014
In March this year, Julian Casablancas’ Cult Record label released this eight minute video in anticipation for The Voidz album Tyranny. The interview sees JC and one of the members of the newly formed Voidz driving and talking through the new record, its sounds and how their collaboration came to be. They talk influences, the meaning of punk, introducing The Voidz and their individual perspectives that they’re ultimately bringing to the new sound Casablancas has been instrumenting. All VHS footage and flickering imagery, the video is the perfect teaser to what is a brilliant new record from the frontman’s newest project.
Previewing the future – 2009
This one minute thirty second teaser preview was released ahead of Julian’s debut solo record Phrazes For The Young. Set to a solo keyboard rendition of track ‘Glass’, the weird mix of vintage and oddly futuristic dystopian imagery seemlessly blends into a teaser that really makes you believe the singer is releasing an album nothing short of the soundtrack to the future. The odd synergy of both modernistic animation and VHS style black and white stills comes to a head with simple shots of Julian himself picking up his microphone.
‘Out of The Blue’ on the Late Show – 2010
Speaking of Phrazes…, what better to close out than with an awesome appearance by Jules on David Letterman’s show? Performing with his backing group, dubbed The Sick Six, featuring Strokes “guitar guru” JP Bowersock and a then-unknown Danielle Haim banging away on percussion, the late night host remarks afterwards “You got a lot of stuff going on back there.” You don’t know the half of it Dave.