Rock and roll was not dead as it approached the new Millennium. But it was having one of its semi-regular power naps. Then The Strokes came along. All skinny jeans, New York cool, clanging guitars and perfect pop choruses. And, as documented in new film Meet Me In The Bathroom, almost overnight –with barely enough songs to fill an LP let alone a live set – they were hailed as saviours.
The NME loudly (and with huge relief) proclaimed a new New York scene. That these disparate musicians had geography and little else in common was moot. The music press needed new heroes. And in The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, plus The Moldy Peaches and later LCD Soundsystem, they found them.
Meet Me In The Bathroom is directed by Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace, and based on Lizzy Goodman’s exhaustive 2017 book of the same name. It collects stories from all sides of this sprawling scene with energetic, exciting archive footage and incisive new audio interviews.
“This might be a weird analogy, but I’m not a superhero film fan. I always like the origin story more than battling the big space aliens,” says Southern, who previously worked with Lovelace on Blur film No Distance Left To Run, LCD Soundsystem farewell concert film Shut Up and Play The Hits plus videos for Bjork and Arctic Monkeys. So it is that we see so much of the pre-fame New York moments, full of joy, excitement and possibility. Karen O recording on an old four-track tape machine on her Lower East Side bedsit floor – a smart songwriter in search of a sense of belonging. She found it across the road at the Sidewalk Cafe, forming Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Kimya Dawson and Adam Green of the Moldy Peaches arrive in New York in search of musical comrades, becoming key players in the anti-folk scene before joining The Strokes on their early tours. Interpol are plugging away below the radar, full of ambition and drive. By contrast, The Strokes emerge fully formed, looking and sounding the epitome of rock and roll – the spirit of the late 1970s New York CBGBs New Wave scene flowing through every vein and every chorus. Future LCD Soundsystem singer and DFA Records co-founder James Murphy was about to get turned on to dance culture with a little help from David Holmes and ecstasy, pushing guitar bands into the clubs both sides of the Atlantic.
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