The Strokes are the musical guest for this weekend's special Halloween episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by comedian John Mulaney. The group was originally supposed to perform on the show earlier in the year to promote their comeback album, The New Abnormal, but that plan was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. This marks the group's fourth time on the show and the first time since 2011.
The Strokes are made up of lead singer Julian Casablancas, guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr., bassist Nikolai Fraiture, and drummer Fabrizio Moretti. They had their first burst of success in the early 2000s, beginning with their first album, Is This It. After releasing two more albums in 2003 and 2005, they went on their first extended hiatus before releasing another batch of albums between 2011 and 2013.
In April, they released The New Abnormal, their first collection of new material since the 2016 EP Future Present Past. The New Abnormal includes the singles "At the Door," "Bad Decisions" and "Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus," all candidates for performances on SNL. They also made a music video for the album's closing song, "Ode to the Mets," which was released on July 24, the Mets' 2020 Opening Day. Here's a look at the band's recent release and their association with SNL before they take the stage at Studio 8H.
Casablancas appeared in The Lonely Island's 'Boombox' video
Casablancas worked with SNL cast member Andy Samberg in 2010, appearing on The Lonely Island's "Boombox." Casablancas also appeared in the video for the song, which also features an appearance from Fred Armisen and Bobby Moynihan. The hilarious song is about all the crazy things people will do when someone plays a boombox in a room. (Spoiler alert: things get really disgusting in a retirement home.)prevnext
The Strokes performed live for the first time in two years in 2019
Promotion for The New Abnormal really got underway in May 2019, when the group performed for the first time in two years at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles. It was the first time they performed the album's opening track "The Adults Are Talking." The Strokes then announced plans for a "comeback tour," which included performances at several festivals around the world during the rest of 2019. The tour had its share of issues, with their performance at the All Points East festival in London criticized for poor sound. The group could not schedule a full tour for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.prevnext
'The New Abnormal' title was inspired by a comment California Gov. Jerry Brown made during the 2018 wildfires
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While the title The New Abnormal might be an apt description for life during the coronavirus, it really dates back to 2018. "It feels so prescient because of the parallel between something like coronavirus," Casablancas told the New York Post. "But the name came from the [2018 California] fires when Malibu basically burned down. Everything right around the studio where we were working burned down. And the governor [Jerry Brown] came up with that line."
The Strokes originated in New York, but Casablancas calls Los Angeles home today. He grew up following the Mets, which explains "Ode to the Mets." However, he joked to the Post that he "quit sports because the Mets and Jets were just too painful."prevnext
Some lyrics on the new album might refer to Casablancas' divorce
Although Casablancas has not said so specifically, The Los Angeles Times noted that some of the song lyrics for the new album appear to reference his divorce from Juliet Joslin. The two split last year after 14 years of marriage and share two young children. In "At the Door," Casablancas sings about "lying on the floor... waiting for the tire to rise."
In an interview with the Times, Casablancas said having children made it "easier to be serious" about the coronavirus pandemic. "I think if I didn’t have kids or I was a teenager or something, I could imagine not really caring. It highlights, unfortunately, that people are selfish," he explained. "It’s similar to global warming. People can understand theoretically that they’re destroying the environment, but it doesn’t compute because it’s a nice day outside."prevnext
The group released a series of videos to promote the album without touring
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Since promoting the album through traditional means was out over the summer, the group produced a series of videos called 5guys talking about things they know nothing about in April. "Like many out there we are staying pretty much at home and keeping to ourselves," the group said in a statement. "We wanted to see if we could connect with folks, and turned what was supposed to be a pirate radio thing for our album release (which we would make in-person) into a video chat instead... '5 guys talking about things they know nothing about.' In light of everything that’s been happening we hope this distracts you from the grim."prevnext
All members of the group are involved in their own side projects
The Strokes' albums are not the only ways to hear music by Casablancas, Fraiture, Hammond, Moretti, and Valensi. All five of them have recorded with other artists in the past decade. Valensi performs with the group CPX, which has recorded two studio albums. Moretti made one-third of the supergroup Little Jot with Los Hermanos singer Rodrigo Amarante and Binki Shapiro. Hammond recorded four solo albums, including 2018's Francis Trouble. Fraiture released a solo album in 2009 and joined the group Summer Moon in 2016. Casablancas recorded two albums with his band The Voidz in 2014 and 2018 and released a solo album in 2009.prev