The Strokes aren’t talking much about the video for “Juicebox,” the first single from their forthcoming First Impressions of Earth; the clip will be shot this weekend in Manhattan with Michael Palmieri (Foo Fighters, Finch) at the helm. What little details they’ve revealed, they’ve revealed with mulish reluctance. But burnished frontman Julian Casablancas’ description of the video is intriguing, to say the least.
“We’re doing a live performance at a radio station [in the video], which will be broadcast all across New York,” he explained.
A source involved with the video’s casting had even more intriguing information to add: The treatment calls for people of all genders, ages, ethnicities and sexual preferences who are “comfortable” with exhibitionistic displays of love, tenderness and affection — to put it very mildly.
While the treatment sounds racy, it’s nothing compared to the ideas the band passed on. One even suggested a clip thick with full-frontal nudity (MTV News initially erroneously reported that the band might adopt this approach, and we regret the error).
Casablancas and the rest of the Strokes are keeping tight-lipped about the production because it’s first and foremost an ever-changing beast — scenes are being cut, others added. It’s a work in progress. But there’s also the video’s ending, which is set in stone. That, the bandmembers say, they’d like to keep veiled, for now — it’s a surprise. But according to manager Ryan Gentiles, in the video, the Strokes will be seen entering the radio station, and they’ll perform the “Juicebox” cut; as the song goes out over the station’s airwaves, it sparks frenzied make-out sessions between whoever hears the track. Beyond that, he, too, remains mum — can’t ruin the surprise, can we?
Fans of the Strokes might just experience a similar reaction January 3, when the band finally releases its third album, First Impressions of Earth, because it’s been two years since the release of 2003′s Room on Fire. The record’s also been a favorite conversational topic for garage- and indie-rock aficionados since last spring.
The album will feature 14 tracks, including “You Only Live Once,” “Razor Blade,” “On the Other Side,” “Electricityscape,” “Killing Lies,” “Red Light,” “The Ize of the World” and “Ask Me Anything.”
The Strokes, said Casablancas, began working on the album last year with producer David Kahne (Sugar Ray, Soul Coughing), opting to ditch longtime knob-turner Gordon Raphael (Regina Spektor, Blonde Redhead) this time around, to help push the band’s evolution.
“We wanted to make a collective effort to try to make [the album] different and better — bigger and better,” Casablancas said. “We wanted to protect our ideals — what we consider to be good taste — and we needed someone to help us take it to the next level, without us having to compromise anything. We wanted to evolve and progress and build on what we started, and this album is what we thought was a natural progression.”
“With our first two records, there are some harder songs and there are some more mellow songs, but the albums, as a whole, stay the same, in terms of dynamics,” guitarist Nick Valensi said. “But Kahne really helped us make our mellow songs more mellow and make our harder songs really friggin’ hard. We also wanted to make a point of not repeating ourselves. Sometimes we’ll be working on a new song and something sounds sort of good but it’s like, ‘We’d done that on that song and we did it on that song, too, so let’s not do that again.’ With every new song that you have, you really want to be thinking as originally as possible and not leaning on these old tricks you can pull out to make your song sound good.”
It took about eight months for the band — from the writing of the first track to the recording of the last — to finish First Impressions, Casablancas said. One tune, “Heart in a Cage,” was actually recycled from the Room on Fire sessions: “It almost had a fighting chance of making it on [that record].”
To Valensi, the single “Juicebox” is something of a departure for the band — even though it sounds as though it too could’ve been a Room reject.
“Juicebox came out as a surprise to me,” he said. “When we were first working on that song, I didn’t think it was going to come out as aggressive as it sounds, but I’m very pleased with the aggression in it. We’d never really done anything that intense before, so that song just seemed like an obvious candidate for first single for me, as it’s just such a departure for us.”
Of course, soon after First Impressions hits stores, the Strokes promise to return to the road for a full U.S. club tour. First, there’s a festival tour of South America in late October, followed by separate runs in Europe, the U.K., Japan and Australia.