Those Strokes boys like to keep themselves busy. When they’re not down in the studio recording album number six or sporadically touring, they’re all up to something. Julian recently produced the The Growlers new record and Nick Valensi just released his first solo record with CRX. Strokes bassist Nikolai Fraiture is no different.
We’ve just had a first taster of his latest project Summer Moon: the song ‘With You Tonight’. Not only that, but the group have also shared an 360° interactive video for it too. We caught up with Nikolai to get the lowdown on the new record and of course, tap him up for Strokes news.
How did the project come together?
“Things began with some songs and playing with friends in NYC. Recording started in NYC and Brooklyn and then went on to Austin, TX. Eventually, I made it out to LA where I met Stephen Perkins, Camila Grey and Noah Harmon. We just finished a small promo tour for our single ‘With You Tonight’ which is out now. The vibe has been feeling great.”
Why did you decide to do this and not another solo album?
“That solo album was a time and place. It meant a lot to me, maybe too much. It was an album I wanted to make, and felt compelled to. I was happy Rykodisc picked it up but I never intended it to be a big release. The very nature of using an old shoebox of poetry as its genesis made it even more esoteric. For this record, my aim was to make an album that’d I’d want to listen to as well rather than just get things off my chest.”
Do you enjoy being the frontman? Is it something you’re comfortable with?
“Our recent shows in LA were the first time I felt that anything is possible.”
Is everything in the group a team effort? Or do you each have your own roles and trust each other with them?
“At this point, we trust each other with our roles. It’s the most comfortable I’ve ever felt singing. Looking around the stage, for that short amount of time, we’re all in this together. Stephen is so solid and experienced, it’s amazing locking in with him as a rhythm section and fan. Noah rips the solos to shreds and Camila is a mad scientist on the keys who sings beautifully.”
Did you have any big influences when you were making the record?
“I was listening to a lot of Italo Disco. Really weird, early synth stuff like the songs Spacer Woman and Feel The Drive. In my head, that was mixing in an interesting way with other influences I’ve kept from growing up in NYC like Sonic Youth, The Velvet Underground, ESG, early hip-hop. Influences that, on the record, are apparent but not obvious.”
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Are you excited about hitting up small venues again? Something you probably haven’t done in a while…
“The ever-elusive goal of playing live is to bring the awesome energy of a small venue to a big stage. Both are fun but that’s my ideal. Our LA shows have been interactive, sweaty affairs. We’re excited to see how far we can take it.”
Is this just going to be a one-off or are you hoping for it to continue?
“We’ve been jamming during rehearsals and so far the material is very promising. With the pace of The Strokes as it is, I see plenty of time and room to do both. We play the song ‘Chemical Solution’ differently live than on the record. There’s an extended solo section at the end where everyone gets lost in the music. It’s a beautiful moment and I’m hoping to capture those new feelings on tape (and hard drive). ”
Are you continuously writing new music in between projects or do you allow yourself some time off?
“You can take time off from the structured aspect of things like touring and recording but music is around me all the time, whether I’m jamming, writing, listening, singing into a dictaphone. All of that informs the process and now, with technology, it can happen anywhere.”
Your new video incorporates VR – what was that experience like?
“VR is amazing! When you take off your headset, your brain needs a second to come back to reality. It really feels like you’re tripping. The video is about two people coming home from a dance ball and stumbling into a strange, occult world filled with bizarre characters all displaying their mystical powers. The VR lends an eeriness where you lose your sense of reality and become completely immersed in the experience. You can explore around so you never see the same video twice. It feels like Sleep No More in one room.”
Nick Valensi said that work on The Strokes album was under way – how far along are you with it far?
“We’re definitely working. As people know by now, deadlines are not our forte. Anticipation and surprises are still part of the excitement of releasing new music.”
Were you pleased with the positive response your last EP got?
“Absolutely. The shows were incredible as well. I love the energy that fans have been bringing. It was so cool seeing everyone come out to the pop-up shop in NYC. It felt like a mini-retrospective. All our old posters and designs really brought back those feelings from the early days. It’s a blessing that things have come around this full circle.”
Any plans for UK shows?
Summer Moon’s ‘With You Tonight’ is out now digitally, with a 7” vinyl release on December 9