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Gordon Raphael on recording The Strokes: ‘There were journalists and record label people from the UK in my basement studio’

Producer Gordon Raphael has recalled the “palpable buzz that was going on” while he was working with The Strokes on their debut album, Is This It.

In a wide-ranging interview with AMI for our December issue, Raphael spoke of those sessions at his Transporterraum studio in New York after he had recorded their Modern Age EP, which helped them sign a record deal with Rough Trade.

He also suggested that the band took advantage of the increasing use of the internet at that time to promote themselves alongside traditional print media.

“They were one of the first bands ever to take advantage of the crossroads between the old print media still in its glory and the beginning of the really hot internet media,” he told us.

“In a way they had a campaign of promotion for the first album that none really had before or since. They had the best of both worlds. That felt really good.

We had this feeling that the whole world was listening

– Gordon Raphael

“They were getting press, like Rolling Stone and huge things in the media even without being signed in the US. By the time they were in my studio, even by the time they started the album without a US deal, we had this feeling that the whole world was listening and they were waiting for this record. It was blowing up even before it was made in my opinion.

“There were journalists and record label people from the UK and in New York in my basement studio and I never had that before. I had never recorded a band with a guy from the NME standing by taking notes, or the guys from Rough Trade sitting there watching me, or the guys from RCA.”

Raphael added that he “knew and the band knew that something was happening” while the album was being made.

"Not while we were making the EP, certainly not,” he added. “It was just a band making a demo in lonely New York trying to get ahead."

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