Why all the fuss about one canonical album, This reading of the Strokes isn't particularly unique; bands are often elevated into the canon Meet Me in the Bathroom, a new oral history that chronicles the New York City rock. In her terrific new book, Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock . Napster happened before the Strokes' record came out, and nobody. The author of 'Meet Me In The Bathroom' on the origins had been record keepers of this era were cast in a new light for me that night, they felt.
Just oodles and oodles of cash. It was just sort of like, they were looking for the next thing, which is the nature of the recording business. There is something kind of beautiful about that in retrospect, and the bands talk about this. The New York bands never really transcended the indie realm. As soon as the Strokes were on this ascension, there was simultaneously a sinking ship happening beneath them.
Label reorganization, restructuring, the condensing of all these labels. There was just money behind that and there was money being made everywhere. It cut into everybody. Or was it also something about the bands themselves? At the end of the day, the Strokes were an underground band, and someone like Kings of Leon were not, someone like the Killers were not. I think of it much more as an idea in advance of what kind of band you want to be.
Julian and those guys, when they were forming their band, they wanted to be Guided by Voices. That was their dream. They were serious about that. Part of that is, there was no model for all the reasons we have discussed.
Meet Me in the Bathroom review – were the Strokes the last real rock stars?
That was not going to happen for everyone, so partially there was no model. They saw themselves as a small, kind of semi-fringe…They loved Blonde Redhead. Those are the shows I would see those guys at.
Is it difficult to get them to dig deep and pull out these details? These people are all living their lives and making art. It depends on what mood you catch them in, what time in their own creative life. You do have to have some journalistic integrity as well—just a bit. I did not print anything that I thought someone was willfully bullshitting me about. This book is ultimately about the music.
Which were your core bands? I read that his dad was a football player. That makes sense; he looks like a football player. James can fight, so heads up. So the epicenter of it for you was what?
Meet Me in the Bathroom - Wikipedia
It was the Strokesfirst, because I knew them. Well, and the record. And because I was in a position through dumb luck to have heard so much of that stuff so early and had been at really small shows really early and had been exactly the right age. But I think the beating heart of me for real, in terms of once I was in that world what I connected with the most is Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It does have something to do with Karen being a woman and just feeling like I knew this stuff was for me.
I knew the Strokes were for me, I knew Interpol was for me. As a true fan, I would go to those shows and feel found. Though the period covered didn't happen that long ago, the scene's participants are now old enough, and maybe sober enough, to honestly reflect on what they went through during their highly scrutinized moment.
It also brings in groups that weren't from the city, like The Killers and Kings of Leon, but who followed the path that this scene paved for them. The New York bands of this era that didn't totally fall apart have long since transformed from upstarts to mainstays, reliable second-liners at festivals whose identities are no longer defined by what borough they live in. Goodman became a music journalist in the early part of the decade, covering what was happening in New York for outlets including Rolling Stone, Blender and NME.
For Meet Me in the Bathroom she not only spoke with the artists, she also interviewed managers, publicists, music industry employees, comedians, journalists, bloggers, party promoters, party-goers and Moby. Here she discusses the process of making the book and living through the time it covers. How long did it take you to write this book? Oh, just a quick five years or so. I went to both of them and it was the genesis point of wanting to write about that period of time.
YouTube Did it feel like the end of something? I hate saying that, even though it's kind of true, because it sounds somehow fatal. I really don't feel that way about it at all. It felt more like a major chapter in my generation's story. That sounds pretentious on some level, but I could see the book's ending. I was in college in Philadelphia at the time, but I was working in the city on my summer breaks. I saw that chunk of time [covered in the book] as a beginning, middle and end story.
Not in so much as, "And now everything's over," but more in the case of these bands that were my peers and were up-and-coming and were a part of this swirling, confusing, chaotic, beautiful mess of New York City music, and they were now establishment rock stars. That was more the feeling, rather than like, "Something has died today. And The Strokes show, they were just such consummate pro rock stars on stage.
I spent the whole show watching Susan Sarandon in her seats, right to the left of the stage, watching them. It felt like, "They're really not ours anymore, they belong to this sort of bigger world. It's wild to be putting out this book with so much going for so many of these bands. They're all just as in the mix as ever. When these bands were getting big, I read a lot of articles about them and I wrote articles about them and there was often a defensive tone in what they said.
There was often a wariness in the way these groups responded, but the band does not sound wary at all in the interviews in the book.
Meet Me in the Bathroom review – were the Strokes the last real rock stars? | Books | The Guardian
Do you feel like with some of the people you talked to there was a relief and unburdening that came with sharing these stories and feelings? Mostly people would do these interviews and then I would get these emails like, "Oh my God, what did I say? Is it going to be okay? Were other people this forthcoming? But that encouraged the unburdening that you're describing. It was sort of like, "Well, wow, everyone else is talking about this stuff and I want to too.
It would feel good to say some of this stuff out loud. After my interviews I would hear either, "Oh my God, what did I say? There's a lot I learned in the book, and then there's stuff in there that was talked about at the time but wasn't printed or said publicly.
When it's happening, you think of it as gossip or whatever, but put in the context of the book, it's sometimes the most crucial part of the story. I'm not offended by the word "gossip. I write a lot of longform profiles and think pieces which is the worst, most pretentious phrase ever in which my sense of authority about what happened or didn't happen is the thrust of the story.
That's not the case here. And I knew immediately upon wanting to tell this story that it would be inaccurate, weirdly, to do it that way.
When there was gossip going around during the years that this was happening, like, "So-and-so is doing drugs" or "So-and-so is sleeping with so-and-so," you stay away from it as a journalist because what's the relevance to this band's story or to this record coming out?
But when you're trying to capture how it felt to be there during this time, or what these characters at play in New York's larger story were feeling, they all heard that stuff too.
So if one band member is shooting his or her mouth off to the press about inter-band dynamics and the other band members are pissed off about that, that's relevant to a story about how it felt to be there during that time and how it felt to be in that band during that time. Also there is a lot that isn't in there. I thought long and hard about what to include and what not to include.
The barometer I used was: Does what was said pertain to this band's emotional truth or to this person's emotional truth? And if it didn't, if it was just kind of fun to know, it didn't get in the book. Do you mean the more salacious details? And they're saying that colorfully. That's a serious thing to say. Then James is like, "I found this tape of myself when I was a year-old kid at band practice and I was already riding everyone.
And he was aware of that and it was also worth it. So that makes it in. There's other stuff, either people slagging each other off, or gossip about who was sleeping with whom and stuff like that that just didn't affect the band's actual stories as far as I could tell. That just didn't go in. Personally for you, what was it like being a young person and a writer in New York during this time?
It was so fun.
It was also really confusing and drunken. People are like, "What's your next book? Second of all, never again. Third of all, I will never write a book like this again, or anything like this.
It's not like I can ever do this again, because it's personal.