It is approaching 20 years since The Strokes burst onto the scene and lit up the world of indie rock with their masterful debut Is This It. In that time, they have hardly become known as the most personable band in town. In-fighting and tiffs are so synonymous with The Strokes that they have almost sported them on the sleeve of their leather jackets as a badge of pride. Condemning The Beatles is unlikely the mitigate this caustic image.
Aside from his work with The Strokes and solo outings, Casablancas is also a member of the Voidz, who released their second album Virtue a while back in 2018. During the promotion of the album, the frontman spoke about his distaste for how overtly influential The Beatles have been in his eyes. “I have that maybe advantage that I didn’t like or listen to the Beatles,” he said. “I feel like that’s almost like the branch of, like, 98% of stuff you hear. … But then there’s the Velvet Underground. I know Lou Reed hated the Beatles.”
This comment is in reference to the famous Lou Reed interview in which he flippantly declared, “I never liked The Beatles. I thought they were garbage.” But anything Lou Reed said in an interview can famously be taken with a pinch of salt for the most part and, as David Bowie declared, liking The Beatles and Velvet Underground are not mutually exclusive.
Nevertheless, Casablancas went on to say, “I really thought at the beginning of the internet, too — well, not the beginning but YouTube or whatever, five to ten years ago, I really felt like, Oh, man, you can hear anything, any style of music from any country,” he said. “And I really thought, man, music’s going to get crazy and there’s going to be all this stuff that just totally did not happen. I don’t know if it’s Spotify or just like top ten, top 40-generating playlist vibes … I mean, yes, it’ll maybe recommend a Misfits song you might like, but I’m just kind of surprised at how not worldly and underground universal cool world music has permeated.”
He posited that this has had a negative impact on chart music and consequently took a swipe as modern pop, stating: “It’s more about scientifically profitable mainstream music,” he noted. “Because when you just look at the numbers — and not that I give a shit about statistics, but just you go to YouTube — and you see, like, Oh, all my favourite stuff has a hundred thousand to a million [views] versus the billions and billions and billions of pop stuff. It’s just kind of like, Oh, geez.”
Before concluding, “For every cool music fan there’s, what, like 200,000 to 300,000 people that like, you know, One Direction. I don’t know, it’s just confusing.”
In reassurance to Casablancas, it could easily be argued that this has always been the case, even the Velvet Underground’s iconic debut masterpiece failed to make the top 100 chart.