let me drink a bottle of whiskey and write a song'." Nevertheless, all of the boozing eventually started to extract a heavy toll. And he's just announced a European tour which includes a date at Dublin's Academy on December 14 to promote his rather sweet solo record, Phrazes For The Young, an LP which suggests that, far from being the pretty-boy, empty-headed frontman he's often painted as, Casablancas may have been the major song-writing talent in The Strokes all along. "He wrote a book called Phrases And Philosophies For The Use Of The Young. I think in many ways Wilde was a Lenny Bruce kind of character." Casablancas is lounging by the veranda of his rehearsal studio in Santa Monica.
It's a late-summer evening, and the 36-year-old Strokes frontman is browsing through a volunteer-run radical bookstore a few blocks from his Lower East Side apartment.
There's a pet white rat perched on the shoulder of the spiky-haired woman near the checkout counter, and Jimmy Cliff is on the stereo.
"Actually, people broke into my house in the middle of the night and kidnapped me." Really? Before that I would never have described myself as a Wilde fan. Does he hanker for the brooding streets of the East Village? "People think I grew up in the French riviera," sighs the singer, whose father, John Casablancas, founded the Elite Model Agency and whose mother Jeanette was a Danish supermodel.
I'd read a little of him in school, I guess -- we did a bit of Picture of Dorian Gray. "It's been blown out of proportion," he says of his upbringing, which included a stint at Institut Le Rosey, the Swiss finishing school which counts the offspring of Elizabeth Taylor, John Lennon, Aristotle Onassis and Winston Churchill as past-pupils (it's where he met future Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr). It's New York, we're kind of roaming around, drinking beer on stoops. Starting the band, we didn't say, 'hey, let's all put on leather jackets and pretend to be cool', you know what I'm saying?
You know some of the people in The Strokes, yeah, their parents had success -- but we didn't live like yuppies. It was who we were." Rock and roll had been crying out for years for a band like The Strokes when they fetched up in late 2000.