Gordon Raphael, the producer of The Strokes‘ seminal debut ‘Is This It’, has announced details of a new book about his time with the band and his part in the ’00s indie scene. Check out the cover exclusively on NME below, along with our interview with the famed producer.
- READ MORE: The Strokes’ world-changing ‘Is This It’ at 20: “They had a ‘last gang in town’ mentality”
Raphael, who produced the NYC icons’ seminal 2001 debut, first teased the book to NME back in February of this year – but now he’s signed a deal with Wordville publishers to release The World Is Going To Love This: Up From The Basement With Strokes in 2022.
Speaking to NME this week about how the book came about, Raphael explained how he felt the need to document his life and career during lockdown from his new life in Hebden Bridge in the UK.
“I always go around the world producing bands, telling these stories and everybody said, ‘You should write this down, you should write a book’,” said Raphael. “I really wanted to, but I never like to sit still. I like to move.
“A month into lockdown I went, ‘What am I going to do?’ I tried to write songs, but then a little voice inside me said, ‘What about the book?’ It was a great joy to finally be able to write it.”
The book was written entirely from Raphael’s memoir, with only some light internet research into the order of events and some colour provided by one of The Strokes.
“I had one phone call with [guitarist] Albert Hammond Jr. at the beginning of writing the book,” said Raphael. “I wanted to know things like, ‘Why did you wear a tie and a suit jacket?’ No one in rock’n’roll was doing that – and certainly no young people in New York. I also had a couple questions about which shows and songs came first, and the lovely Albert gave me a little bit of help.”
“The rest is all just lovely songs that I’ve been carrying round since that period of time. I’ve been telling them to band after band, and this is just my recollections. I have a great long-term memory and can remember a lot of details.”
Despite having given countless interviews about his time with The Strokes over the years, Raphael said that the upcoming memoir was full of stories that he had “decided to save” and that fans would not have heard before – as well as being full of unseen photos of the band and many others who he’d worked with.
“As a rock’n’roll musician, it took me a while until I started getting interviews,” said Raphael. “As soon as people started to ask me, I was really spilling the beans. Luckily, I was smart enough to hold back certain things because I knew that one day I’d want to present these viewpoints. There are definitely things that happened to me while working with The Strokes, conversations we had, and all these events that no one has written about before and that no one has ever mentioned before.”
He continued: “My book catches us right in the middle of making the music. There’s kind of a teamwork and a kind of communication level that’s happening in that moment and is very special. It wouldn’t be on any MTV interview. They were very heavily involved in making their album. As well as helping them to make it, I was observing all their interactions and noticing very rare things about their teamwork and musicianship that I hadn’t seen before.”
Raphael went on to describe The Strokes as “very different from other bands – not only from their time period, but also generations and decades earlier as well”, making them ideal leaders of the garage rock revolution.
“They had a kind of seriousness, application and dedication to the details that was very rare and a style of communication that was incredibly mature for a bunch of young musicians,” he admitted. “A lot of the musical styles at the time were getting more and more about production and new innovations in technology. Young people tending to think that ‘their’ music was electronic and loop-based kinda stuff. They never considered that they might like to watch people playing instruments again.
“This music came out and they were like, ‘Woah – this is completely different to what we normally like but they make it look so good, and it sounds so different than our parents’ rock’n’roll’. It really captured the imaginations of people who were used to more mechanical music at the time.”
Raphael also helped to shape the genre for the decade that followed and well beyond by working with the likes of Regina Spektor, Hinds and The Libertines – becoming one of the most sought-after indie producers around. The World Is Going To Love This will also trace Raphael’s journey and his other project from his time in grunge bands in the ’90s.
“The central character of the book is me. How did I get from Seattle playing in the grunge scene, to being in the studio recording The Strokes?” he said. “There’s a little bit of a journey there. That’s only a four to six year period, to be honest. Once I recorded The Strokes, suddenly all these bands want me to work with them. Then I’m in London with The Libertines – and there’s a lot of special stuff that happened between me and them that not a lot of people know about.”
Speaking of his time with The Libertines, Raphael said: “They asked me to be the producer of their very first album. That was something that at first, I was resistant to. They had a completely different style when I met them, then they suddenly went electric. I was at what I believe to be their first show with the final line-up.
“I had freshly moved to London and the city’s entire rock’n’roll scene was there to watch the birth of the future. I was going to be their producer, so that was an incredible moment.”
While waiting for the book to drop, Raphael said that he was currently enjoying “the busiest period of his life” while working with new bands from around the world from his home in Yorkshire.
“Because of lockdown and the pandemic, the whole style of working has changed,” he added. “I used to go around all the time going to Mexico or New York and work with one band at a time. Right now, I’m in my little room in Hebden Bridge working with eight bands simultaneously – two in Germany and six in the United States!
“It’s busy and fun and I’m still on my game.”
The World Is Going To Love This: Up From The Basement With Strokes will be published in 2022. Following the release of their acclaimed 2020 album ‘The New Abnormal‘, The Strokes will be hitting the road for a run of world tour and festival dates in 2022.
Meanwhile, The Libertines will also be touring to celebrate 20 years of their debut album ‘Up The Bracket‘.