Interview: Julian Casablancas of The Strokes Talks to The Doors

Interview: Julian Casablancas of The Strokes Talks to The Doors

Put simply, because of The Doors, I chose music as my life path. I was actually drawn by the instrumentation primarily, as well as by Jim Morrison of course. As musicians I found them to be unique and masterful. Their songs, as well as the atmosphere and intensity they created, had a tremendous impact on me growing up.

Complex asked if I was interested in doing a back and forth interview between me and Doors members Robby Krieger (guitar) & Ray Manzarek (organist/keys) for their upcoming documentary Mojo Risin': The Making Of "L.A. Woman" [which will premiere tonight at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, and is also available on DVD/Blu-Ray] but really I was just happy and excited to interview them in a straightforward way. 

If I had to describe my interview style I'd say it's Chris Farley-like—basically over-excited to hear them talk about anything. I was very nervous before getting on the phone and sincerely hoped they would like me as an interviewer. When it started out a bit rocky (there were audio issues with the phone) I was quietly mortified for a minute, but in the end it was thrilling to get to speak directly with such legends.

We all clicked into a conference call with a pretty bad connection, so Ray (as in Ray Manzarek of The Doors), though he was extremely loud in my ear, couldn't really hear me at all...

Interview by Julian Casablancas (@Casablancas_J)

Julian Casablancas: I just wanna thank you guys, your band is pretty much the reason why I play music today, so I'm honored to get to interview you, or just talk to you really.

Robby Krieger: All right.

JC: I guess I'll start with random questions if that's cool, and at any point free to say to 'no comment' or...

Ray Manzarek: Who's talking right now?

RK: Julian.

RM: Is that Julian talking?

JC: Yeah.

RM: Loud and slow Julian, because the connection is awful. Julian, can you hear Ray Manzarek speaking to you now?

JC: Oh yes. Hey Ray. How's it going? Honored to meet you... I know you probably can't understand me but I will try to enunciate clearly.

RM: Yes, and loud too, like this. SPEAK LIKE THIS JULIAN [speaking loudly] 'RAY, WHEN WAS THE FIRST TIME...' You know, like that.

JC: I don't know if I can do that.

RK: [Laughs.]

RM: Oh, you can do it... it's all acting.

JC: I've always loved the song “Universal Mind.” Did you guys ever record an album version of that song or is that just something you did live?

RK: I think we (originally) did it as part of “Celebration of Lizard,” is that right Ray?

RM: Fuck, I don’t know man! I don’t remember that stuff. How obscure...

RK: No, we recorded it for an album but it never made it on an album. Why, does it sound like a live cut rather than an album cut?

JC: Yeah, it’s live. I just always thought it was a really wonderful song.

RK: It really wasn’t a finished song so we [tried to] put it into a larger piece, “Celebration of a Lizard.” But I agree, it’s a good song, coulda been a hit single...

RM: Noooo! [Laughs.] You can’t say “Universal Mind” on American Radio! That would be blasphemy. That would be like some sort of ancient Greek religion. Although I must say my mother, a good Catholic girl, loved that song. That was like one of her favorite Doors songs.

RK: Really? Wow.

RM: She'd sing it to me on the phone when she was still here. She'd like to sing it. Here's what she would do: “I was doing time in the Universal Mind, I was feeling... all right!” that was her little twist...

 

Nobody was just blasting; we were always listening to each other. Perhaps that’s one of the secrets of The Doors, I don’t know. We always knew what everyone else was doing.

 

JC: I thought you couldn’t remember! That's awesome.

RM: I remember the words…. I can remember all the words as a kind of memory test?

JC: I don’t even know the words to my songs.

RM: In The Doors, we knew all the words. This is a band that wasn’t just playing chord changes, we were listening to Jim. I was listening to Robbie, and feeling John, and then listening to Jim’s words. We all knew when it was an improvisation and when it wasn’t. Nobody was just blasting; we were always listening to each other. Perhaps that’s one of the secrets of The Doors, I don’t know. We always knew what everyone else was doing.

JC: I know you played the bass with your left hand, but did you ever have a bassist live? I feel like I hear a bass sometimes on the live recordings, some secret man in the shadows perhaps...

RK: No, not on the live recordings. Y’know, we had a bass player a couple of times after we did the Touch Me album, we had Harvey Brooks playing with us at The Forum.

RM: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s when we had—what did we call it? The La Cienega Symphony. We had horns and strings playing with us at the Forum in Los Angeles. But that was the only time, the other times I would play the bass with the Fender Keyboard Bass which would sit on top of the Vox Continental or the Gibson Kalamazoo.

JC: For all you gear-heads out there.

RM: And I always thought of it as the portable kazoo.

Tags: the-strokes, the-doors, interviews
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