Over time, naturally, you lose your innocence from gaining knowledge. You can’t be innocent forever, but there’s something in innocence you need to regain to be creative.
When you get together in a group, it becomes like a family, with the different personalities and the politics that comes with being in a band. It’s different than bringing something in by yourself.
When someone’s really good at encapsulating human emotion and putting it out in a form that can reach a variety of people, that’s going to have a big effect when he’s no longer there.
You know when you become friends with someone, you don’t even remember? When you weren’t friends? You’re just kinda like, ‘When were we not friends? When I met you, weren’t we just already friends?’ I have the same thing with the Strokes guys.
I think that’s one of the greatest gifts you get if you’re successful at something like music or film or photography – any of the arts – you can sit there and think. It’s so much fun to sit there and think and wonder about the world and the universe.
I’ve got my advanced scuba diving license. I’m playing tennis and exercising. I ride my bike everywhere. I’ve been finding new things. I’ve been more creative in music and doing different videos. And just meeting different people and being around and present. I’m wonderful when I’m just on nothing.
Rock and roll’s relatively new, in the sense of the Fifties, Sixties, right? They invented the first sort of rock stars, and they took it to excess, and then the excess became bitter, tormented. Then it became okay to succeed.
Change isn’t a scary thing. It’s constant and inevitable.
I feel like I can be a frontman; I feel like I have good songs.
The Strokes, you bond when you’re 18, and you’re friends. The feeling’s different. When all of us get into a room, we feel like the same people from before. We weren’t anybody; we were just hanging out. It’s hard to understand if you’re not in a band. You’re one-fifth.
Little moments of excitement shape the sound of a record. You don’t have anything, and then you start to have little parts that give you the energy to move forward because you start to see something.
Carl Sagan’s ‘Pale Blue Dot’ is where I got the title ‘Momentary Masters.’
When you write songs, you’re writing little bits here, little bits there.
I feel like my strength is surrounding myself with people who have an ear for things, and then they play it for me. I’m always looking; my ear is always open.
When I’m not on the road, I try to intake about 300 grams of protein a day, which is a lot. I got really into how your body absorbs it and how you feel and how crazy it is when you intake that much food and actually feel better, your brain works better, and you actually lose weight even though you’re eating more. It’s so methodical.
There are different people who got me into music, but what I liked about Beethoven is that even when I didn’t understand it or it was too long, there’s still something about it that drove me to it. Then it got me excited about actually learning music, like a theory of it.
When people ask me for playlists, I always put in ‘Moonlight Sonata’ because it is my favorite song. I play it all the time.
Egon Schiele is my favorite painter. There’s just something about art – photography, painting, music, plays – whatever you see, sometimes there’s a gut reaction that’s more important or more visceral than what your brain is thinking about. You can’t explain that reaction. It’s like what happens when you fall in love.
The way the press works, people don’t like to review or talk about EPs. It’s considered, ‘Why don’t you just wait for the record?’ But for someone who’s creating, and the audience, they can get material quicker. I almost feel like putting out a few songs every couple months might be better than putting out an album every year or two.
I like rock music that has melody, but it also makes you wanna get up and dance.
I grew up with The Beatles, Bob Marley and Talking Heads. I like the melody-with-rhythm aspect of music – there’s so much to discover still.
When starting a project, your influences are the things around you. It doesn’t mean you have to sound like it or look like it or anything. It’s just something new, and your curiosity becomes enthralled by it.
I feel like you listen your whole life, so when you are in the studio, your references are all the songs and music that you know. It just depends on where the songs are going and what attracts you at the moment.
Things that excite me are these four different bands: Wire, with a song called ‘Champs,’ Misfits, with a song called ‘Hybrid Moments,’ R. Stevie Moore, and Wipers ‘Wait A Minute.’
Guided By Voices was huge when I was 16. Then I got into the Beatles, then classical music, Beethoven.
I just looked like there was only one thing I could do: be in a band. It looked like I was already successful, basically. Which is what I wanted to do when I was 16. I just felt like if you did that, aesthetically you would just draw people who were doing the same thing.
After boarding school in Switzerland, at, like, 14 or 15, my life clicked, and I just realized, ‘I don’t want to be like anyone around me at my school. I don’t think the world revolves around money.’
That’s the purpose of creative stuff: when you really love what you do, you have to know at some point, or points, you’re not going to be good at it. That’s just the process of learning. I can edit it and try to be as perfect as I can, but I’m still going to have my vulnerable spots and my weaknesses.
My personality can be extreme in all ways, even in positive ways; I’ve learned that.
When you put on music, just feel it; it’s a different sense. I walk around with music in, and it can just change my world in seconds.
I feel like I always describe myself as a late bloomer. My first album, in my mind, was that I had a few songs I needed to take from incomplete demos to working with someone else and finishing them.
I think the last book I cried in was Patti Smith’s ‘Just Kids.’ I don’t shy away from crying, though. I actually really enjoy being moved like that.
I would like to leave the world a better place than when I entered it. I would hope that by the time I die I could have learned from the years of living and hand something down.
Sometimes you wanna be James Bond, and sometimes you wanna be Marlon Brando until you realize you can’t be either!
I’ve always wanted to see what Egypt was like when they were building the pyramids or Rome at the height of the empire or Greece – more specifically, Crete before it was destroyed. Why? Because I’m curious how we all hung out on a day to day basis, what was the chit chat, etc. Reading things in a book never gives you the feel.
I feel like that’s what being creative is: It’s you bouncing with emotion and what you capture in those bounces. Accept where you are and use it.
I couldn’t sing without a guitar. I like the way it feels to sing and be holding a guitar, even if I’m not playing it that much. All my idols that I grew up liking always had a guitar on them, but they didn’t play it – Buddy Holly, John Lennon, Lou Reed, Elvis Costello. It’s like having a partner with you.
If I worked as a waiter, I’d go home and write songs and record them. I’d have to. It’s the only thing I know how to do. It’s the only thing I can do.
When they write a bad review, and you agree with it, that’s the worst feeling. When you know you’ve done what you wanted and the best you could and you love the outcome, then you look at everything differently. Not everyone’s going to love everything you do.
Ties were always my thing. When I was 18, on Sunday, when everyone was taking off for a casual day, I’d wear a suit to go have brunch.
I actually use women’s perfume – I have since I was a kid. It’s called Anais Anais, from Rachael. It smells like a beautiful woman and a bouquet of flowers. I use that and Right Guard deodorant.
I’ve always had Paul Smith wallets for some reason.
You watch movies and see bands you like and copy them and see what you can hold. I mean, it’s all down to how you hold what you wear.
My idea was you can’t dress for the stage, you have to dress all the time like you’re onstage. And so I would just always wear suits or some form of it. I wanted people to know I played music. That was kind of how you would find other people: you would just walk around looking a certain way and end up meeting someone who liked the way you look.
I do believe in ‘forever’ in terms of relationships. There’s something really amazing about being with someone for a long time and really knowing each other in that way. They end up becoming your closest friend.
You really get your sense of women, to begin with, from your mom.
I was raised to respect women, and I really like them to be strong, independent, and have their own identity. My parents are still together, and I grew up with a lot of love, and I feel that kids imitate what they have at home.
Two people happy with themselves can be exceptionally happy together.
In terms of growing as a songwriter, I’m just a guy who understands the craft better. I understand what I want to do with it. I think that’s where I’ve grown. Have I fully achieved that? No, but I don’t think you ever do. There’s always room to grow.
If I have an audience, I’d like to make music for my whole life. But it’s not really up to me.
It’s so funny because when I talk about fashion and menswear designers, it’s really like a small percentage of my head. I don’t mind talking about it, but I always worry that it’s gonna seem to the outside world that that’s all I think about.
I don’t think I found out what I liked to wear until I was, like, 18.
I’ll write lines or words in a notepad. You work on little things and little parts; sometimes they turn into bigger songs.
I don’t know how to explain it, but when you’re working on something constantly, and you’re digging in deep, things kind of fall in, and you grab them, and you’re like, ‘That one!’ and ‘That thing!’ and it starts to build something right.