BY SAMIHA FAROOQI//
Led by frontman Julian Casablancas with, The Strokes have been one of the most prominent bands in the indie-rock scene since the release of their debut album Is This It in 2001. Some fans have been following them for years, others have dubbed them the new “tiktok band” irrespective of their history and popularity. It’s clear, even twenty years later, something about their sound has allowed them to remain in the spotlight. As Journey Sherman said on Technique, their songs “Last Nite” and “Someday” have even gone down as indie-rock anthems. One could say I’m just blinded by my own affliction for the band, and I’m just a bit too biased to be writing this. Regardless, it’s undeniable that The Strokes have shaped the indie-rock scene. The question is, just how influential are they? Have they shaped indie-rock simply by being at the forefront of the garage rock and post-punk revival? Or, have they managed to shape the sound of indie-rock itself?
The Strokes are largely credited with reinvigorating the early 2000s garage rock scene, and making bands popular again. After performing at different clubs and bars all over New York City, in 2001 The Strokes released their EP The Modern Age, causing a bidding war to ensure over which label would get to sign the band. Their influence is impalpable. In her book Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011, author Lizzie Goodman wrote that, “almost every artist I interviewed for this book — from all over the world — said it was the Strokes that opened the door for them.” From The Killers to Arctic Monkeys, some of the biggest bands of the early 2000s name The Strokes as an inspiration of some sort. With this in mind, it’s not hard to imagine that The Strokes would have shaped the sound of indie-rock itself.
Consider the sound of The Strokes first album, Is This It, which peaked at #33 on the US Billboard 200 chart, and #2 on the UK Albums chart. Upon the album’s release, The Rolling Stones called them “the best young rock band in America” and said that, “their approach is more like that of a soul or funk band than a rock band: Each player, even the drummer, pushes at the melody from a different rhythmic angle until there are no more angles left to explore.” A 2001 review from Pitchfork describes their sound as “firmly rooted in the post-punk tradition.” And Happy Magazine said that, “the core of The Strokes’ sound is the way the guitars and bass work together…most of the tracks on the album feature interlocking guitar and bass parts.” All of this, coupled with the fact that The Strokes have proven to have inspired a number of other wildly popular alternative/indie rock bands, seems to mean that they have very well managed to define the early 2000s sound of indie rock. Perhaps it is too premature to make this claim,, but with influence they’ve wielded for the last two decades, it’s impossible to deny that The Strokes have been a guiding force on the indie/alt rock scene.