The Strokes’ Nick Valensi to play at Brighton Music Hall
November 17, 2016
For those who are big fans of The Strokes, you’re in for a real treat. Strokes guitarist Nick Valensi will be playing a show with his new band, CRX at Brighton Music Hall Nov. 20 at 8p.m. to tour their debut album, New Skin, which was released Oct. 28. The album was produced by Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, and each track has that essential rock-induced sound that lovers of The Strokes have enjoyed from past records. Valensi, who is also the lead singer of CRX, spoke to The Journal about the tour and the album, his new band members, how going solo from The Strokes feels and the upcoming show at Brighton Music Hall.
CRX, which stands for a type of car from the 80s, was formed by Valensi due to the fact that The Strokes haven’t toured very often and he had a desire to play live again. With the extra downtime, he decided to attempt to create his own songs with the intent of playing them live.
“At first, I was just writing stuff without knowing if it’d be a solo project or a band, it if I’d even release it at all,” said Valensi in a recent phone interview with The Suffolk Journal. “I secretly worked alone for about a year, writing songs, making demos, and learning how to write lyrics.”
However, the songwriting process turned out to be harder than he thought, as Valensi soon ran into a writer’s block. This is when he decided to turn to fellow musician friends who he had known for years and trusted for feedback, and it quickly turned into a musical collaboration of talented artists working on the songs created.
“All of a sudden I had people helping me write lyrics and finish up songs that were incomplete,” he said.
This group of musicians that Valensi reached out to for help on these songs turned out to become the official members of CRX, with Ralph Alexander on drums, Darien Zahedi on guitar, John Safley on bass and Richie Folin on keyboards.
Josh Homme, the producer of “New Skin,” was also one of the people Valensi reached out for feedback as well.
“Josh and I have known one another for a long time, and I’ve been a fan of his since way before that, so it’s really cool to have him produce my first album outside The Strokes,” Valensi said.
He said the Homme loved his demos more than he expected him to, and he immediately started bouncing ideas back and forth about the production of the album. Valensi said that Homme enjoyed many elements of the demos, and soon started to give his own ideas on how to make them better too.
“Over the course of the conversation, I threw it out there that I wish I could have him produce the album, and he said he’d do it in a heartbeat,” he said. “So it just took off from there.”
Now that the album is officially released, Valensi said that CRX will be on tour for a substantial amount of time, playing in clubs as well as more intimate settings as opposed to playing big summer festivals with larger crowds that he is used to playing with The Strokes.
“Playing live is one of my favorite things about being a musician, so I’m really excited to have this new project that I can take on the road at a moment’s notice,” he said. “Getting to play clubs with a new band is exactly the kind of balance that I was looking for when I started writing songs for CRX.”
Another significant change is the fact the Valensi is also the frontman of the band now, taking on responsibility of being a lead vocalist.
“For me, the big difference is that, in CRX, I do all the same guitar stuff as in The Strokes, but I’m also the singer. So it’s slightly more challenging. My brain has to use a bit more processing power when I play with CRX.”
As for the future of the Strokes?
“The Strokes are in the very early stages of writing songs together. It’s so cool for me how people get excited about us working on new stuff.”
For now, Valensi said fans that come to see his shows with CRX, including at Brighton Music Hall on the Nov. 20, will be a loud and entertaining night of rock and roll.