In a new Apple Music Hits interview, host Matt Wilkinson speaks with artists Beck, Oasis's Noel Gallagher, and more in celebration of the 20th anniversary of The Strokes’ 2001 debut record Is This It for the Essential Albums series.
Released on July 30, 2001 and featuring their massive hit "Last Night," Is This It shot the New York natives into the limelight, catching music fans and artists alike quite off guard.
"Nobody in America had heard The Strokes. Nobody knew what they were talking about," singer Beck explains. "I was like, 'What kind of name is that? What?'" Remembering their first meeting, Beck says, "We pull up backstage and I see four or five guys who were dressed almost exactly like us, same haircuts and everything. I was like, 'This isn't Limp Bizkit. Who the hell are these guys? They're wearing suit jackets like us and skinny jeans, what the hell?' And they have these foldout deck chairs and they're on the hillside behind the stage and they're riding the deck chairs down the hillside. And I was like, 'I love these guys. Who the hell are these guys?'"
The singer likened catching The Strokes amid backstage hijinx to "an old Western." Exiting his van, Beck says "they all stop and look at us... It was a little like an old Western movie soundtrack goes off and we're just like staring at each other. And they're staring at us and we walk over to the catering and then they walk over and they're like, 'Hey,' and they're all super tall. And they're like, 'Hey, we're The Strokes' and I was like, 'Holy sh**. Been hearing about you guys for a week, what's your deal?'"
In very Strokes-like fasion, he says the band told him, "You're going to f***ing love us."
As for the very first time Beck heard of the band, he pins it down to a night in London while on his Midnite Vultures tour. Someone from his label popped in and asked him, "Have you heard of The Strokes?"
"I was like, 'Hi, Sophie, how are you? I haven't seen you in a year. How's it going?' That was the first thing out of her mouth." Sophie wasn't done, though. She continued, saying "They're the biggest thing to happen in music since Nirvana, this is the new thing. You have to hear it. You're going to f***ing love this band." Beck admits, "Everybody I talked to in London, 'Strokes. Have you heard The Strokes, Strokes this…'"
Oasis songwriter and voice of reason Noel Gallagher had a similar introduction to the band. "We were on tour with The Black Crowes, doing a co-headline thing and my press officer called me from England and she said 'Have you heard of this band called Strokes?' and I was like, 'No.' She said, a few people have now called me and said, 'This band, it must be something special.'" As luck would have it, the bands were close by. "We were in Cincinnati and we went on first that night, got in a van and drove a couple of hours to see them and when we walked in, they couldn't believe it because there was literally 15 people there and there's all of us, Liam's in a parka... I love that band. And that little period where them and the Kings of Leon came along, that was probably the last great hurrah for guitar music."
Praise rarely, if ever, comes any higher.
Listen to the full show live for free at 4PM EST / 1PM PST on Friday, July 30, or listen back anytime on-demand with an Apple Music subscription at apple.co/Matt.