This was also the year—2005—that he and the rest of the Strokes staggered into the studio to make their third record, First Impressions of Earth, an inadvertent monument to self-hatred and weary contempt. Casablancas these days is honest, easygoing, good company. But he is also irredeemably, obliquely himself. There is a song on First Impressions, “Ask Me Anything,” whose chorus is simply: I’ve got nothing to say, repeated over and over again—as forthright a declaration of creative exhaustion as ever recorded.
How did your bandmates react when you brought in that song with those lyrics?
“It’s funny: This is one of those cheesy songwriter ‘I dreamt it’ stories, but I dreamt it was a Scissor Sisters song. And there was just a chorus where they kept saying, I’ve got nothing to say, and it was so hypnotic and weird and fucked with my head. I woke up thinking it was a real song. And then I realized: ‘Oh, wait, I made that up in a dream, so I can just do it and I’m not plagiarizing.'”
Those were not your true feelings?
“No. I just think it’s interesting, because there’s something so vain about being in a band and being a singer. So to say ‘I have nothing to say’ seemed like a cool, refreshing kind of concept.”
In the same song you say, We could drag it out / but that’s for other bands to do.
“Mm, no. That’s just more referring to song length.”