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.




Reading Pandemics

Pandemic, Hope, Defiance, and Protest in 'Romeo and Juliet'

Shakespeare's well known romantic tale Romeo and Juliet, written during a pandemic, has a surprisingly hopeful message about defiance and protest.


A Family Visit Turns to Guerrilla Warfare in 'The Truth'

Catherine Deneuve plays an imperious but fading actress who can't stop being cruel to the people around her in Hirokazu Koreeda's secrets- and betrayal-packed melodrama, The Truth.


The Top 20 Punk Protest Songs for July 4th

As punk music history verifies, American citizenry are not all shiny, happy people. These 20 songs reflect the other side of patriotism -- free speech brandished by the brave and uncouth.


90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.


Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

'The Avengers: Endgame' Faces the Other Side of Loss

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our pandemic grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.


Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.


Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.


First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?


HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.


Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.