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The Strokes

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By bringing style, fun, and catchy songwriting back to rock music, the Strokes became one of the most influential bands of the early 21st century. Their direct, hooky sound -- equally inspired by classic tunesmiths like Buddy Holly and the brash attitude of fellow New Yorkers the Velvet Underground and Ramones -- set trends even as it looked back on rock history. With their acclaimed 2001 debut, Is This It, the Strokes reinvigorated a rock scene that had spent years focused on post-grunge and nu-metal. Along with the White Stripes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, they helped shape the sound and look of alternative rock in the 2000s, with Kings of Leon and the Killers and the Libertines, Franz Ferdinand, and Arctic Monkeys reflecting their impact in the U.S. and the U.K., respectively. As the decade unfolded, the Strokes embellished on their back-to-basics style, adding new wave and synth pop elements to 2003's Room on Fire and 2006's ambitious First Impressions of Earth, a trend they continued with later releases like 2013's Comedown Machine. Though they spent much of the 2010s working on individual projects, they returned with some of their most passionate-sounding music on 2020's The New Abnormal. The Strokes' roots go back to the late '90s. Singer/songwriter Julian Casablancas (the son of Elite Model Agency Group kingpin John Casablancas), drummer Fabrizio Moretti (who began playing drums at age five), and guitarist Nick Valensi started playing together in 1997 while they attended the Dwight School, a private prep school in Manhattan. Soon thereafter, they met bassist Nikolai Fraiture, who attended the Upper East Side's Lycée Français, and added him to their ranks. At the time, the then-unnamed band's musical influences included the Doors, Bob Marley, the Velvet Underground, and Jane's Addiction. In 1998, guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr. (the son of singer/songwriter Albert Hammond, whose songs include "It Never Rains in Southern California," "When I Need You," and "To All the Girls I've Loved Before") came from Los Angeles to attend film school at NYU and was invited into the band by Casablancas; the two had met at L'Institut le Rosey in Switzerland when they were kids.

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