Solo star impresses with rare shows
Julian Casablancas + The Voids

Forever associated with the doe-eyed charm and new wave riffs of ‘Is This Is?’, Julian Casablancas recently felt the urge to try something different. Working with a number of close friends, sessions in New York resulted in recent album ‘Tyranny’.

Out now on his own Cult Records imprint, it’s a curious album – dissonant and political, it fuses a distorted view of 80s synth pop with that glorious voice. The sound of a musician gleefully side-stepping his own reputation, Julian Casablancas + The Voids held a Q&A session at London’s House of Vans on Friday (December 5th).

At first guarded, the singer opened up as questions honed in on his work. Recorded above a book store, the sessions are obviously close to his heart with Casablancas defining ‘Tyranny’ as a critical comment on “politics and money”.

Asked if the band name was a tongue in cheek statement, the singer smiled and said: “well, how tongue in cheek do we want to go here?”

Open about his political convictions, it’s clear that ‘Tyranny’ isn’t some hipster statement, or a mere attempt to evade his previous work. Taking to the stage later that evening for a special fans shows, Julian Casablancas + The Voids clearly revel in the material. The dissonance on record and amplified onstage, a noisy, cathartic experience for both band and audience.

Yet there’s a sense of humour here, with an impish grin breaking across the singer’s face. Opening with Daft Punk collaboration 'Instant Crush' and dropping in previous solo cut ‘Getting Away With It’, the band disappear before returning for a short two song encore. Playing The Strokes' 'You Only Live Once' accompanied only by piano, it’s a remarkable moment of clarity amid a set dominated by a pulsing morass of new ideas.

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