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The Strokes are to the music weekly NME what Posh and Becks are to Heat magazine: their raison d'etre.Already part of the architecture of modern music, they have been credited with revivifying the moribund concept of the cool guitar band, which had been mouldering under the damp baggy T-shirt of dance music, the dead hand of Oasis and their ilk and, in America especially, the long shadow cast by Kurt Cobain's 1994 suicide.But such was the rapidity of their rise, and their all-round appeal - viscerally exciting yet elegantly simple guitar-pop played by a gang of five handsome boys in funky threads and toting cool names to boot - that the cynics circled immediately.It emerged that Casablancas was the son of John Casablancas, the founder of Elite Models; that Hammond Jr's father was a successful singer-songwriter; that private schools had been attended. They work harder than any band I've seen.' He says they practised eight hours a day, five days a week.
From the beginning, each of them will say, the Strokes decided they wouldn't be like most bands, where everyone knows the singer and maybe the guitarist, but couldn't care less about the other, usually nameless, guys at the back. All must be included, each will be spoken to in an environment of his choosing. Notoriously hostile to interviews, he did not return to New York until after I had left.
A short while ago we were in a bar over the road called Hi-Fi.
When it was called Brownie's and 'cool', the Strokes, then unknown, had played in its poky confines.
He's smoking with Matt Romano, a member of the Strokes 'family' - he runs their fanclub and stood in for the drummer, Fabrizio Moretti, when he broke his hand in a fight after a show in Glasgow in June 2001.
Fab's not around; he's in LA with his girlfriend, Drew Barrymore.
The barman, enforcing the city's recently introduced ban on smoking in public places, tells him to take it outside. But Hammond Jr is by far the snappiest of the five, favouring white suits and loosely knotted ties.