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Strokes Frontman Cuts Oscar Wilde-Inspired CD

Album Phrazes for the Young
Due Out Fall

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Austin Scaggs Sep 26, 2009
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”˜We’d been touring forever, and we had some issues,” says Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas of the band’s three-year hiatus. “It wasn’t anything dramatic ”“ we just needed some time away.”

Since then, guitarist Albert Hammond Jr released two solo albums, bassist Nikolai Fraiture made one, and drummer Fabrizio Moretti co-founded Little Joy. Now, Casablancas has Phrazes for the Young, which mixes his distinctive dry vocals with more out-there instruments ”“ drum machines, synths and violins ”“ than you’d ever hear on a Strokes disc. “Introducing new instruments into the Strokes would be like adding new characters to a sitcom,” he says. “With this CD, I wanted to do everything.”

Helping Casablancas achieve his vision was veteran engineer Jason Lader and Bright Eyes multi-instrumentalist Mike Mogis. Casablancas handled many of the guitar and keyboard parts, and called in friends like Blake Mills, touring guitarist for Jenny Lewis, to play on three songs. One standout track, ”˜Out of the Blue,’ is a raucous love song that has Casablancas singing, “I’m going to hell in a leather jacket/At least I’ll be in another world while you’re pissing on my casket.” Casablancas says his primary inspiration (and the album title) came from the Oscar Wilde essay “Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young.” He explains: “The Oscar Wilde thing makes fun of how superficial humans are ”“ I was writing more about arrogance and shortsightedness.”

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As for the Strokes, the band has a “boatload” of songs, a shortlist of producers and a March target for its fourth disc, according to Casablancas. Meanwhile, the singer is putting the final tweaks on Phrazes for the Young and plotting a tour with a band that will include Strokes guitarist Nick Valensi. “The guys in the band seem very excited for me, which makes me happy,” says Casablancas. “So far, so good. Knock on wood.”

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