The making of The Strokes’ ‘Is This It’


“I learned a lot about them during that process,” Raphael says of working with Julian to record the EP. He says the singer especially surprised him “because I formed a bit of an opinion about him being the quietest, most background member, who maybe didn’t know much about the music.”


Before they began recording ‘Is This It’, the producer and the band had a listening session, where Albert and Julian brought things for him to listen to, emphasizing the tones and energy they were after.


Julian Casablancas is said to have instructed Raphael to make them sound like “a band from the past that took a time trip into the future to make their record.”



The band wanted most of the album to sound like they were playing live, while they wanted a few to sound like they included an in-studio production drum machine (even though there was no drum machine).

strokes 04-

The band played to a click track, while Julian sang through a Peavey
practice amp.


The woman in the photograph on the original album cover, taken by Colin Lane, was later revealed to be Lane’s girlfriend at the time. The shoot was spontaneous, and was inspired after she came out of the shower naked and Lane spotted a leather glove left in his apartment by a stylist. “We did about 10 shots. There was no real inspiration,” he says. “I was just trying to take a sexy picture.”

The Strokes, live in Japan, NME 08/2003

The band left the question mark off of the title of the album because they didn’t think it looked right.



After the 9/11 attacks, the track ‘New York City Cops’ was taken off of the album in America, as some thought it was inappropriate at the time and disrespected NYC’s cops. This song was replaced by ‘When it Started’.