The Strokes abrasively kicked open the new Millenium with their ferocious blend of garage rock that everybody wanted to hook into their veins following the release of their game-changing debut, Is This It.
Billie Eilish wasn’t old enough to have lived through the first wave of The Strokes back in 2001. In fact, she wasn’t even born for another five months after its release, which is frightening to consider if you were around during that era. Now, of course, she’s old enough to headline Glastonbury Festival alongside Paul McCartney.
Truthfully, when Eilish was growing up, most people had written The Strokes off. Following their disappointing 2013 album Comedown Machine, the New Yorkers didn’t share another full-length project for six years, and there was no significant appetite for the band to be anything more than a touring nostalgia act.
However, The Strokes weren’t prepared to resign themselves to this fate. Armed with new ambition, they recruited Rick Rubin for their 2020 comeback record, The New Abnormal, which turned Eilish into a superfan.
Speaking to the Australian radio station Triple J, Eilish named the single ‘At The Door’ one of her favourite songs of the year, and Eilish pleaded with the host to pick the whole album but wasn’t allowed. “It’s been my favourite album in many years,” she explained. “There is something about The Strokes, I don’t know what it is, man. I love ‘At The Door’, I love the melodies, I love the lyrics, I love everything about it. The Strokes hit a nerve.”
This incident isn’t the only occasion in which Eilish has talked up The Strokes, and when she took part in The New York Times‘ ‘My Ten’ series, she explained how it was a vital aid to her during the first lockdown in 2020. “When I first found the album, I was going on a lot of bike rides,” the singer recalled. “I would play the whole album on my speaker backpack and ride around random neighbourhoods, and it was always sunny and breezy and pretty and green”.
Adding: “Julian Casablancas is just a genius — every time I hear his lyrics I think, ‘I would never think to say that’. That’s what I love about them — they’re so unexpected, but also relatable. Every single song is good.”
With The New Abnormal, The Strokes proved their doubters wrong, partly thanks to the magical fingers of Rick Rubin, who managed to steer them back on course. While, for most of us, the record doesn’t compare to the seminal Is This It, but it has helped usher in a new generation of fans such as Eilish, who were too young to enjoy The Strokes’ initial run.