Any day is a good day when Vulture’s David Marchese is interviewing a major star. And today, The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas joined him to promote his new album from his other band, The Voidz. And, as is the hope with all of these sorts of interviews, Casablancas is game to talk about a wide range of subjects and say some provocative things. It’s a blast to read.
For most of this interview, Casablancas keeps returning to the idea of the parallels between music and politics, to the point that he kind of comes across like the Charlie from Always Sunny “Pepe Silvia” meme. One of the artists he keeps returning to is noted oddball Ariel Pink, whose music, despite its roots in nostalgic pop melodies, is about as far from the mainstream as it gets. But in Julian’s mind, he should be just as popular as Ed Sheeran. The pair share a pretty amazing back and forth in which Julian unsuccessfully tries to argue that Jimi Hendrix was not successful during his lifetime, before summing up his stance as follows:
Because if you grew up in a world where Ariel Pink was popular then you would say ‘I don’t see how Ed Sheeran can be popular.’ People grow up with norms knocked into their heads. And I’m not trying to diss Ed Sheeran or any pop star. Ed Sheeran seems like a nice, cool guy and I have nothing against his music. Let him sell a billion records. I’m just saying I don’t understand why there can’t be a world where Ed Sheeran gets 60 percent of the attention and Ariel Pink gets 40 percent. Now it’s almost like Ed Sheeran gets 99.5 percent of it. The creative bands have been pushed so far into the margins. But my bigger point is that whether it’s music or politics, right now we’re mired in whoever’s propaganda is loudest. I’m sorry — I’m not good at explaining things.
Casablancas has a number of other hot takes throughout the interview, including thoughts on Kendrick Lamar, where he says Lamar is “on the coolest side of the pop spectrum. He’s on the border of art and pop, which is a cool place to be. But when I hear stuff like Joyner Lucas, that feels more inspiring.”
Another highlight comes in discussing The Strokes. When asked if he gets the same fulfillment out of being in The Strokes as he does as being in The Voidz, Casablancas compares himself to Natalie Portman:
To be honest, this question reminded me — I just saw Annihilation, and I was talking to someone about how Natalie Portman was also in the Thor movies and thinking that was interesting. She was mind-blowing in Annihilation, and I just thought she probably does some things out of passion and certain things that are more pay-the-bills. I think actors do that and it doesn’t mean they don’t like what they’re working on. It’s a different kind of energy. That situation may be similar to me and the bands I play in.