Julian Casablancas Strays From The Strokes For Solo Debut

Julian Casablancas

A basic need to create is what led Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas to record his just-released first solo album, "Phrazes For the Young."

"My intent is always to make music," Casablancas tells Billboard.com. "I feel like my normal band, which I was relatively happy with, was kind of going through a little bit of a transformation. I had stuff that I wanted to do, and I think the band wasn't ready. I just kind of came to the realization of, 'OK, why don't I just take the opportunity...In the beginning it was kind of a necessity, but at the end I really enjoyed it."

Casablancas says some of the eight songs on "Phrazes..." were first offered to the Strokes, but rather than push them on his disinterested bandmates he opted to take them on himself. "I've been kind of relinquishing (control) in the band, anyway," Casablancas says. "In the band what we're trying to do is be more of a collaboration. So this was a chance for me to go and work on every detail myself, which is fun, to be writing all the solos and bass lines and drum beats like I did in the early days of the Strokes."

Fans may also be surprised by a heavy use of keyboards and synthesizers on "Phrazes..." -- especially its first single, "11th Dimension" -- although Casablancas says they're actually old hat for him. "I write about 50/50 between guitars and synthesizers," he notes. "But everything in the Strokes just gets funneled through guitar world, which I am a fan of and wanted. But for this go-round, things that were written on keyboards just stayed on keyboards."

Casablancas will be promoting "Phrazes..." with a half dozen west coast shows in November, including a Friday night residency at the Broadway Palace Theatre in L.A. A nine-date European tour commences Nov. 30 in Copenhagen. No more dates are scheduled, though Casablancas mentions January and March as possibilities for future performances.

The Strokes, meanwhile, are slated to get back together in January after spending five months earlier this year working "on a bunch of songs" for the group's fourth album -- and first since 2006's "First Impressions of Earth." Casablancas says that how much material exists is "arguable" but that the group members' various solo projects have made their working relationship easier.


"When we meet with the band and talk and play music, it's just a different level of ease and comfort," he says. "Everyone's more easygoing and everyone feels more confident and just trusts each other a little bit. I think we've subtly been feeling urgent about (making a new album), but I don't want to predict anymore, because every time I make predictions I'm wrong. So I would just leave that alone right now."