Alex Turner loves The Strokes even more than you do. Hard to imagine, I’m sure, but ever since his band Arctic Monkeys were thrust into the spotlight over a decade ago, the only thing that has been constant in their career is his love for NYC’s finest.
As Julian Casablancas and co. were tearing up venues on both sides of the shores in the early noughties, Turner and his mates Jamie Cook, Matt Helders and Andy Nicholson were just plotting their steps to stardom with cheap guitars in their own bedrooms.
Now, as The Strokes retreat into one of their weird hibernations again, it’s Turner & co who are the leather-clad legends playing songs from the Strokes’ seminal debut album ‘Is This It’ live. Last night in New York, the band covered the title track – but this isn’t the first time Turner has publicly declared his love for The Strokes.
Here’s why there’s no way that you can love The Strokes more than Alex Turner appears to do. Sorry, he really does!
They’re one of the reasons Turner started the band
This is well-known for scholars in Monkeys-lore, but hearing the words directly from Turner makes us feel all giddy again. “I remember I used to play that first album [Is This It] in college all the time, when our band was first starting. Loads of people were into them, so loads of bands coming out sounded like them,” he told us in 2011. “I remember consciously trying not to sound like The Strokes, deliberately taking bits out of songs that sounded too much like them, but I still loved that album.”
He put them in an iconic lyric
You’ve all heard ‘The Star Treatment’ by now. Opening with a gentle piano tinkle, it was the first taster anyone had of the band’s latest album ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’. After immediately confounding the ‘Guitar Or Die’ crowd, Turner would go some way to appease them with perhaps his most iconic lyric to date: “I just wanted to be one of The Strokes, now look at the mess you’ve made me make”.
Turner’s lyrics post-Humbug have always been difficult to unpick – whirling metaphors crash together atop killer melodies, and we’re all left handcuffed to the briefcase with no recollection what the hell any of this means. This line was different. Not since the band’s early days has Turner been so blatant and so confessional and it doesn’t take a genius to work out exactly what he’s talking about here – does it?
He took fashion tips from them, too
As a generation of teens are no doubt are trying to shop Turner’s current look – outrageous amount of chest on show and a set of clippers – he was doing just that back in The Strokes’ heyday. “As much as they probably hate hearing this as well, they were the band that encouraged me to rip the knees of my jeans and write on them in marker pen,” Turner confessed to us in an interview a little while back. “I wrote on them in red ink, ‘I’ve got soul and I’m superbad!’. Rock on, pal!
Jeans sorted, but what did you do for the top half, Al? “The arrival of The Strokes changed what music I was listening to, what shoes I was wearing. I grew my hair out and borrowed my mum’s blazer,” he told Radio X earlier this year.” Noice.
He’s covered them live several times
Last night wasn’t the first time they’ve tackled a Strokes song. The group have been known to dabble with the odd cover here and there – a grimey cover of Nick Cave’s ‘Red Right Hand’ appeared as a B-Side to ‘Crying Lightning’ – but the Strokes are one of the only bands they’ve gone back for several helpings of.
In 2007, the band turned in a storming cover of ‘Is This It’s closing song, ‘Take It Or Leave It’, at a TV recording of Live At Taratara.
A year later in 2008, Turner joined Lightspeed Champion (aka Dev Hynes) for a ramshackle cover of The Strokes’ 2003 hit ‘Reptilia’. Looks like it was recorded on a calculator, but still worth a watch.
He dances just like you at their shows
At the last Strokes show on British soil, messrs Turner and Kane were spotted dancing just like you were to ‘Barely Legal’. There’s grinding, air guitar and a whole lotta love in this clip.
He even got a picture with them
Here they all are. All the lovely lads from Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes at the NME Awards in 2006, though Turner doesn’t look especially pleased.
Later that summer, the Monkeys would play just before The Strokes at festivals including T In The Park.
Keep stroking their egos, Alex.