The guitarist, talking on the phone while on tour with his latest project, CRX, discovered Lin-Manuel Miranda’s presidential hip-hop opus through his daughter. He then took his family to see it and was blown away. The former New York resident prides himself on his eclectic tastes and credits his children with helping him discover new things while he turns them on to David Bowie and Nina Simone.
“We live in Los Angeles and spend a lot of time in the car,” Valensi says. “We take turns and pick a song. My daughter turned 10 a couple of months ago, and on the top of her list was a portable turntable. She wanted me to get her started on a vinyl collection. It was all the coolest shit. I’ve got the cool kids and they have good taste. What I did to get them there, I don’t really know. I just lucked out in that regard.”
Our conversation just happened to take place several days after President-elect Donald Trump sent out a flurry of tweets demanding an apology from the current Hamilton cast. After a recent show, they shared with
“I wouldn’t,” Valensi says. “It’s their play. [Miranda] can do what he wants. Personally, I agree with everything they said. It is not like they said anything that was controversial. All they did was express concerns and fears that slightly more than 50 percent of American people are sharing. I don’t think it is much of a controversy, but it seems President-elect Donald Trump has a knack for making small things more controversial than they are.”
“Luckily for me, I have got a bunch of people who know me from the Strokes who are happy to come along on this ride with me,” he explains. “The Strokes have had some of the best fans over the years. They’ve turned their younger brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters onto us. It’s beautiful to see at a Strokes show. Lucky for me, some of those people have come along on the CRX journey as well.”
The CRX journey began three years ago. The Strokes were not touring as much as they used to, and
“I’ve never really written lyrics before,” Valensi says. “Over time, certain sentiments started popping up over and over again. At the risk of sounding corny, so many new things we are dealing with in the modern world and in our society today have become ubiquitous so quickly. I am still coming to terms with new media, the way it has changed our world, and how we deal with each other as people.”
“Julian [Casablancas] has always been the leader of the Strokes, so that’s definitely not my role there,”
New Skin is 30 minutes of unrelenting, percussive power pop that will satisfy those fans of
Knowing numerous talented musicians to bounce ideas off of also helped.
“That shit worked,” he exclaims. “Things start to reveal themselves a little bit. It’s an exercise in shutting down your brain a little bit. Part of your brain comes in and tries to solve problems, edit,
“People have only gotten to know me this one way,” he says, “Now, I am doing something a little bit different. At first, it is still kind of novel. It’s still new enough that there will be a ton of comparisons to the Strokes. It’s inevitable and understandable. I am looking forward to doing a second and third CRX record. Maybe when we release that third album, we will be compared to [New Skin] and not previous Strokes albums.”
As the world eagerly awaits that new Strokes album,
CRX is scheduled to play Crescent Ballroom on Thursday, December 8.