The Strokes – their career in NME covers


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.



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.


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.


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.”


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.