The Strokes’ dramatic arrival at the start of the millennium was everything that music fans had been crying out for — and the New Yorkers didn’t take long to nestle themselves into the heart of a new blossoming section of British culture.
British audiences took to the band first – and wholeheartedly – the indie scene that they soon became the figureheads of would bring about a new dawn in music. Without The Strokes coming along, who knows whether rock music would have made its revival in such a visceral way. Julian Casablancas and his band of New Yorkers brought rock ‘n’ roll kicking and screaming into the 21st Century with their seminal debut album Is This It.
Their arrival arrived following the mundane sounds of Coldplay dominating the musical landscape, all before five guys from the Big Apple helped bring guitar music back from the brink. At the beginning of 2001, The Strokes first made waves in the UK and captured the nation’s hearts despite the relatively unknown status in their home country.
After sending their three-track EP, The Modern Age, to the newly reformed legendary British label Rough Trade, the company snapped up the band, and quickly they became the most important group on the planet.
The EP arrived on January 29th, 2001, and their debut UK tour kicked off just two days later. As far as EPs go, The Modern Age is almost perfect despite only featuring three tracks. However, when those songs are the titular effort, ‘Last Nite’ and ‘Barely Legal’, you don’t need anything else.
The tour kicked off The Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth, and they would go on to visit Brighton and Bristol before finishing with two dates in the capital at The Astoria on February 3rd as part of the NME Awards. The dates concluding four days later at The Monarch in Camden Town.
The Astoria may have now closed its doors, but during its time in the heart of London, the venue saw it all. That said, nothing more special than The Strokes’ first-ever show in the capital. There was palpable excitement surrounding the show, and it was clear that they wouldn’t be playing venues of this intimacy for much longer.
Prior to the show, The Strokes spoke with NME, and even though it was their first-ever UK interview, they already looked and sounded like ready-made rock stars. The band awkwardly introduce themselves and what instrument they play. Drummer Fabrizio Moretti jokes about being the band’s keyboardist, which elicits giggles from his bandmates.
Judging from their collective dazed faces, it appears as though that first tour of the UK is an experience that might be a little hazy in memory for the band, who seemed to party as hard as they played. “I lost my voice last night, because I don’t sleep. Ever,” Casablancas said with the look of a man who is still worse for wear from the night before. “Hopefully, I’ll get it back for tonight, but if I don’t, I’ll just change the singing parts on stage and sing it lower,” he adds in a relaxed tone.
The interview isn’t the most revealing look at The Strokes during that early period, but it paints a snapshot of what life was like for them in 2001 and how comfortable they were in the limelight. The Strokes weren’t suffering from imposter syndrome and knew from day one that it was their destiny to become one of the biggest bands in the world.