After three albums, the members of the Strokes—the onetime toast of the New York music scene—are dabbling in the inevitable: side projects. But don't roll your eyes. Lead singer Julian Casablancas' solo effort Phrazes for the Young blows up the dirty downtown rock formula with some synth-pop stylings and even a little emotional gospel-soul. Matt Hendrickson
Q: Have all the side projects changed the band's group dynamic?
A: We never argued much, but we don't have the tug-of-wars we used to. Having my own record makes me less precious about my ideas.
Q: Your new song "Out of the Blue" contains the line "I know I'm going to hell in a leather jacket/ At least I'll be in another world while you're pissing on my casket." Was that directed at the Strokes hype machine?
A: Every time you hear something is so great without hearing the music, you kind of instantly hate it. That definitely hurt us with a lot of people, I think. But overall, I'll take it, because that noise never resonated with me. I don't know if it was because I was intoxicated most of the time or just being in the bubble, but I never quite got a sense of it.
Q: What's happening with the next Strokes album?
A: For months now, we've been in the studio—our record isn't coming out until March at the earliest. We're still trying to figure it out. Fab [drummer Fabrizio Moretti] is writing more. There are two vibes—eighties melodies and seventies, Thin Lizzy-style band arrangements.
Q: New York music hipsters have moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Do you feel a part of that?
A: Every new band is from Brooklyn. I like Dirty Projectors, and Brooklyn is fun. But that old East Village vibe—you can't find it anywhere.