We’re taking a look back at The Strokes’ career in NME covers. The band first featured in June 2001, and inside the magazine Julian Casablancas declared, “a lot of this hype around is bullshit. If we believe too much of this shit, we’re going to crash and burn so fucking fast.”
For their second feature, NME’s Ted Kessler went out to LA to hang out with the band and watch them live at the Troubadour. “The Strokes are the most exciting young group on Earth” he wrote. “That’s not hyperbole. That’s fact”. It was the week before their slot at the Reading & Leeds festival and the release of ‘Is This It’.
The Strokes were back in the mag in March 2002, just after the Brits, when we ran a piece entitled “The Strokes shine at dull industry bash”. They’d performed ‘Last Nite’ and we spoke to Julian Casablancas about the UK’s love for the band. “England’s got this special place in my heart” he said in the issue, “if it wasn’t for everyone over here, I’d still be working in a bar.”
The Strokes bagged the triple at the 2002 NME Awards and also achieved their third NME cover. The boys won Band Of The Year, Album Of The Year (for ‘Is This It’) and Best New Act, seeing off competition from Linkin Park, Gorillaz, Starsailor and The White Stripes.
The 2002 ceremony took place at Planit Arches in Shoreditch, and saw NME writer Nick Kent and NME photographer Pennie Smith awarded the Godline Genius award, an accolade that’s going to Dave Grohl during next week’s event. The Strokes’ Best Album award beat off Radiohead’s ‘Kid A’ by an incredibly narrow margin.
Kylie Minogue joined The Strokes for their fourth cover the following week, on 9th March 2002. We spoke to the band after their win and asked for their own recommendations for Godlike Genius. Julian plumped for Bob Marley while Albert chose John Lennon.
“Underpants, squirrels and the meaning of life” ran the headline on The Strokes’ next major feature in August 2002. NME’s James Oldham travelled to their New York studio for their most bizarre interview to date.
The next Strokes cover feature saw the band getting messed up with NME’s Steve Sutherland in November 2002. “Dr Julian says get fucked up” was the inside headline, and the piece was packed with tales of debauch from LA.
The Strokes were the main reason NME declared mid 2003 as “the summer of your life”. It was their seventh cover of the magazine in two years.
Dean Chalkley shot this iconic image of the band in 2003. This week’s issue has an exclusive interview with the band as we talk fall-outs and fights.
August 2003, and the band were back on the cover. This time NME had an exclusive first listen to the new album ‘Room On Fire’, and reported from their live shows in Japan.
NME’s Alex Needham travelled to New York to hang out with the band for the cover of the 20th September 2003 issue, and found them in comic form. The best quote came from drummer Fab Moretti: “I’ve worked to be laidback. I think that every kid starts off as a spaz and has to learn his way.”
The Autumn 2003 feature was spread over two weeks. In the second part, we talked about the things the band would never do, including posing in bathing suits, making movies, getting in a helicopter or “painting [their] faces black and pretending to be African.”
October 2003 saw NME catch up with the band on the road in Philadelphia. The set list that night begun with ‘Under Control’ and ended with ‘Soma’ followed by ‘Take It Or Leave It’.
NME photographer Pieter M Van Hattem captured Julian Casablancas in 2004, the year the band were travelling the world on their ‘Room On Fire’ tour, with Kings Of Leon as support.
2004 was the year the V Festival pulled off a decent string of headliners, booking Kings Of Leon, the Pixies and The Strokes. Also in this week’s issue, news that Thom Yorke’s finger (from his NME award) was up for sale on eBay.
NME’s Mark Beaumont was invited inside The Strokes’ New York studio for the 13th November 2004 cover, and discovered all the detritus of a busy band: empty beer bottles, video games, mousetraps, Bob Marley posters and even polaroids of the band on the toilet.
In the feature, we talked to the band about some accusations they’d received, including the common gripe that they were too image conscious and that they wouldn’t last. Nikolai replied: “We wouldn’t be talking about the style if there weren’t any content.”
1st October 2005, and the band were back on the cover. The feature inside was headlined: “Why have The Strokes gone space rock?” and delved into the making of ‘First Impressions Of Earth’. The band also had a go at Coldplay in the issue.
Drugs, insomnia and the pressures of songwriting were all discussed in the issue. We asked Julian if he was worried about the reception ‘First Impressions Of Earth’ might get, and he replied “A little bit. I’ve listened to it so much I can’t tell. Is this amazing or does this suck?”
The band opened up about their relationship to fame in the interview. “It’d not that we want to sell out” Julian explained, “It’d just be nice to be recognised. When we started, I guess we were too fussy to care about being played on MTV.”
The Strokes famously dressed up for our 2005 Christmas issue, and spoke to Krissi Murison about sodomy, rigatoni and ukeleles. They also gave their verdict on the events of the year, from Live 8 to Kanye Vs George W Bush.
We also asked the band what they were hoping for for Christmas. Nick asked for a boob job while Julian asked to “titty-fuck” Nick. Yes, really.
In March 2006 NME was back on the road with The Strokes, for a feature in an issue that also included Ian Brown, Fall Out Boy and Arctic Monkeys.
The 22nd November 2008 issue celebrated ten years of The Strokes. Paul Stokes took a look back at the career, starting with the really early days of the late nineties.
The Strokes made their triumphant return in June 2010 with a headline slot at the Isle Of Wight, and we were there with the exclusive interview. “It’s partly true that we’re playing these shows for money” Albert Hammond Jr admitted, “but it’s also for fun.”
In 2011, the NYC rockers were back on the cover. The mag featured an in-depth interview with the band and a timeline charting the five year wait for the new album. There was also a re-appraisal of ‘This Is It’, ten years on.