Julian Casablancas Has Some “Voidz” in His Understanding of Rock History
Voidz frontman and sometime Stroke Julian Casablancas is the latest subject of David Marchese’s revealing—sometimes too revealing—interviews with notable musical figures for New York magazine. Casablancas has pop music and politics on the brain, and according to him, society has its priorities backwards on both subjects. “People thought that the internet would lead to more information and more truth. It’s the opposite: People are way less informed,” he said. “It’s dark.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Casablancas’s main argument about pop music is that it’s not very good: Ed Sheeran seems like a stand-up guy, but his music, in Casablancas’s opinion, doesn’t justify its massive popularity. What if there were a way to expose listeners to something less mainstream? “Everyone knows David Bowie now, but I bet he was pretty underground in the ’70s,” Casablancas said. “I think Ariel Pink will be one of the best-remembered artists of this generation and now nobody in the mainstream knows him.”
But whatever your feelings on Ariel Pink, there’s another logical hole in this argument: ’70s Bowie may not yet have been a superstar in the U.S., but—as Marchese points out in an annotation—he scored 10 top-10 albums in the U.K. inside 10 years.
Casablancas seems on shakier ground still when it comes to Jimi Hendrix. “People don’t realize that it took years for him to get the acclaim that he has now,” Casablanas said. “You look at the charts back then and he was at No. 300. He didn’t have hits.” This, too, presents some factual difficulties:
Jimi Hendrix was very popular during his lifetime.
No, you’re seeing it through the rearview mirror.
But Electric Ladyland was a number-one album.
I don’t know. From what I’ve seen I thought he had never had any commercial success.
He closed Woodstock.
Okay. Read the full interview, also featuring Casablancas comparing playing in the Strokes vs. playing in the Voidz to an actor choosing a blockbuster role vs. a passion project, right here.