Julian Casablancas Has Had Enough of Blues Rock

The Strokes frontman says rock isn't dead, but he wouldn't mind if that particular subgenre disappeared

Lead vocalist Julian Casablancas of The Strokes performs live on stage during Ohana Festival at Doheny State Beach on September 27, 2019 in Dana Point, California.
Lead vocalist Julian Casablancas of The Strokes performs during Ohana Festival in California.
Jim Bennett/FilmMagic via Getty

Twenty years after their classic debut album Is This It, The Strokes finally earned their first Grammy this week, taking home Best Rock Album for The New Abnormal. After they accepted the honor, the group spent some time in the virtual press room talking to the media, where they fielded questions about whether rock is dead and frontman Julian Casablancas revealed he wouldn’t exactly be upset if one particular subgenre died off.

People have been wondering whether rock is dead for decades now, and it remains very much alive (though admittedly much less of a presence on the charts and in mainstream pop culture). Casablancas reiterated that but also let slip that he would prefer not to hear any more blues rock moving forward.

“I think people who say things are ‘dead,’ I feel like it means their imagination possibly has died,” he said. “There’s room for so many genres of music; not necessarily blues rock, please no more of that. All kinds of genres of music can blend in so many ways. Keys themselves, or singing styles or different bending of notes. You can sing an Arabic song with a country twang or vice versa, there’s so much room for stuff. Anything that’s been beaten to death, obviously trend dictates those things will be extinct, and you evolve from those things. But what that means, what it’ll be called, who knows what it’ll be called. Rock and roll should definitely stop the way it was done [before], we don’t need more of that.”

The comment is more a call for innovation and an acceptance of change than it is necessarily an indictment of bands like The Black Keys, and Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. chimed in as well to respond to a question of where rock should go next.

“It doesn’t matter where we think it should go,” he said, adding that that’s up to “the new kids on the block” to determine. “We can wait and see. Isn’t that part of the fun?”

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