It’s all automatic as The Strokes rock Miami

After relocating from the newly opened club Mansion to the Jackie Gleason Theater in order to accommodate those under 21, The Strokes took stage in front of a packed house of rabid Miami fans last Tuesday.

With two albums under their belts and a third in the works, The Strokes finally have enough material to put on a show of acceptable length. Essentially their entire catalog was played, and unlike their previous tours, they played for well over an hour. It should also be noted that they took no break, besides Julian’s occasional nonsensical ranting to the crowd about how intoxicated he was, giving everyone a bit of a breather.

The entire show just went with the characteristic ups and downs of The Strokes music, with the crowd bouncing off the walls to the chorus of “Hard to Explain” or pulsing with the strobe lights during the crescendo of “Reptilia”. However at times there were very subdued moments, such as when the lights went deep blue as Julian crooned “Under Control”, occasionally fumbling with the lyrics.

The band was in top form though, seeming to actually care and have fun with what they were doing. Julian’s stage presence, though a bit absurd at times, was essentially him reveling in his rock stardom. They played with control and excitement; unfortunately, the venue reserved the crowd to a repressed condition. While the show at Mansion would have been a personal experience with everyone able to dance in an open space, probably pushing to be as close to the stage as possible, it was as if everyone had assigned seating and was hindered by the aisles of chairs.

Regardless, the crowd still loved them, and nobody cared that they don’t believe in encores. One of the final songs they played was their cover of the Clash song “Clampdown,” which Julian said they had decided never to play it again but would play it anyway. By the end Julian was diving into the audience during their standard last number, “Take It Or Leave It” and his enthusiasm was enough satisfaction for the night.

A few weeks ago I was able to speak to lead guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. about their upcoming tour. The following is an excerpt of our discussion:

EDGE: What are you up to right now?

Albert Hammond: Right now we are just in the rehearsal studio working on new material, getting it all ready. Our space is over in Hells Kitchen, I think 38th Street and 8th Avenue, I think it’s called Clinton now, it’s a weird area.

EDGE: What is your creative process?

Julian comes in studio with ideas and we sit there and work them out and sometimes I even get to work with Julian writing a song, like on Automatic Stop. Basically we sit there I turn this thing on the guitar and there ate so many things going on with all the instruments together. And then we work and work and work and just try to turn stuff out.

EDGE: Influences (personal, commercial) What do you listen to now? Personal favs?

Yeah I mean Beatles, Bob Marley, there are too many to mention. Recently this Yeah Yeah Yeahs song “Maps.” I love music in general. Guided By Voices is a big influence on me. It ranges 50s all the way up. Its good to say definitely wider than people might think. I don’t just listen to 1978 underground. Probably 1969 is more important to me

EDGE: Where do you want this to go?

I don’t like going too far ahead. You just try to have a good run or keep on going. I would like to make many many records. Hopefully in five years I’m talking to you about the eighth record we just made.

EDGE: How do you deal with fame?

Its great its fun, lets us do what we always dreamed of doing: in the studio working on our third record and going on a tour of the U.S.

EDGE: What is most exciting to you in your career?

It changes as everything in life. Right now focus on new songs. Also I’ve been wanting to do big American tour for a while. It’s great to be connecting with people by playing live

EDGE: Personal approaches to life and art.

Work really hard so you can party hard.

EDGE: Guys have a great attitude and are pretty humble.

Oh for sure. We would be in it for the wrong reasons if we didn’t. I mean you can try to make money and it’s good to do that. But it just comes down to surviving. I think we can survive and we can go through everything together.