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Q&A with Nikolai Fraiture, bassist for The Strokes

Steve Knopper
Newsday (MCT)

NEW YORK — After temporarily saving rock 'n' roll with their terrific debut, 2001's "Is This It," The Strokes collapsed in a haze of hype, expectations and internal conflict. The band meandered through two spotty follow-up albums, drifted into separate solo projects, then reunited in 2009, recording new songs during numerous sessions at several studios.

The result, "Angles," lacks the Television-style cohesion that made "Is This It" so great, but it has its moments. The kings of the Lower East Side — singer Julian Casablancas, guitarists Albert Hammond Jr. and Nick Valensi, bassist Nikolai Fraiture and drummer Fabrizio Moretti — are having their moment, again, Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

We spoke with Fraiture about the band's new approach to recording and its original speedy rush to rock-star success.

Q. Nick Valensi recently said: "This album is the first one where we are truly working democratically. It's taken a long time because this is a new model for us." He later said: "I won't do the next album we make like this. No way. It was awful — just awful. Working in a fractured way, not having a singer there." Is that a contradiction?

A. I don't think it's a contradiction. The album was done in different stages. At the beginning, we were writing all together, all five of us in our rehearsal space in New York. There was a lot of stopping and starting and a lot of different stages of recording. ... (We would do) the actual recording of the album with the four of us as a band, then we would do Julian's vocals separately at Electric Lady. But we would definitely visit him there and talk about the songs. I guess he prefers to record his vocals alone.

Q. How were you able to adapt to Julian's more isolated approach?

A. We've changed as people and as musicians the last five years. We're a lot more understanding of other people's lives and what's going on. When we were younger, we had a lot more time and a lot less responsibility. We were on top of each other 24 hours a day.

Q. Was your family supportive during that whole crazy time when The Strokes were breaking?

A. My mother was definitely 100 percent supportive. She's definitely always told me to do what made me happy. My dad was a little more strict European — French upbringing — where that kind of stuff never really was supposed to pay the bills.

Q. Has he come around?

A. Yeah, he's very, I guess, proud and happy that we're playing Madison Square Garden. Once you do that, it's pretty undeniable.

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