By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
As Sheffield noted in Rolling Stone, echoing perhaps every story written about the band since its very first gig, the Strokes "tightened the trousers of an entire generation," and it is no easy thing to be taken so seriously so quickly--to be hailed as messiahs while still in diapers. Hammond says it all happened so rapidly that it was too much too soon; he recalls touring for The Modern Age EP in England in 2000 and getting cheered before even plugging in their guitars and mikes. In a moment, he recalls, "everyone went from being bored to really excited," though soon it would morph into that sick, wonderful feeling of being totally, absolutely overwhelmed.
"I mean, you don't grow up thinking, 'Oh, I'm going to grow up and do interviews and photo shoots,'" Hammond says. "You just wanna play music."
But that moment has passed, and other bands have taken their place as The Next Big Thing--bands that you hear today and perhaps forget tomorrow, at least till they make their "comeback" record five years in. At some point, the Strokes learned how to reconcile the expectations and demands of others with just trying to, like, please themselves.
"It's kind of like a bigger version of playing a show where no one knows you and you're getting a response from the audience and seeing, 'Oh, this is good' or 'This isn't working so well,'" Hammond says. "It's not just, 'I like it, and I don't care if no one else likes it.' If that's the case, well, then don't put it out. I have to say, I was surprised by the new record in a good way. I think we really wanted to try to get that feeling of when we finished our first record, like you were so happy with it that you had an amazing shield, like nothing could hurt you because you knew what you had was good. I did not walk into the studio thinking, 'This is where we are going,' but there is the feeling that you're on a journey, definitely."