Despite reports of friction in the Strokes camp-borne out, perhaps, by the five-year break between albums-frontman Julian Casablancas has positive thoughts about the making of the New York quintet's fourth album, a 10-song effort that's due this spring. "Everyone's more easygoing," he says, "and everyone feels more confident and just trusts each other a little bit. What we're trying to do now is more of a collaboration, and . . . when we meet with the band, and talk, and play music, there's just a different level of ease and comfort."
After touring to support 2006's "First Impressions of Earth," which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, the five Strokes launched various solo projects: guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. released two solo albums; drummer Fab Moretti and bassist Nikolai Fraiture formed bands Little Joy and Nickel Eye, respectively; guitarist Nick Valensi recorded with Little Joy, Regina Spektor and Devendra Banhart; and Casablancas released a solo set, "Phrazes for the Young" (2009), and worked with New York-based comic music troupe the Lonely Island.
The Strokes began talking about a new album in '09, then got together in earnest in early 2010, when they started with producer Joe Chicarelli (Tori Amos, Counting Crows, My Morning Jacket). Some festival dates followed during the summer-pointedly not featuring any new songs-and when the Chicarelli sessions didn't pan out, the group shifted operations to Hammond's studio in upstate New York. Casablancas, meanwhile, recorded his vocals separately from the band for the first time. "I've been slowly relinquishing [control] in the band," he says, to "give everyone a chance to put their stamp on this and direct it as a group." Fraiture recently told the BBC that the album will mark a return to the Strokes' "classic sound," adding, "It's the album which should have been made between [2003 sophomore set] 'Room on Fire' and 'First Impressions of Earth.' "