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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Irwin

Vulture's Latest Interview With Julian Casablancas: the Top 5 Cringiest Moments

Updated: Mar 25, 2020


The Berkeley Bside

I am not afraid to say Julian Casablancas is one of the most overrated rock stars of our lifetimes. Described as “the neighborhood drunk with a heart of gold,” his particular breed of intoxicated opinionatedness never fails to ooze arrogance, disrespect, and paternalistic condescension. Julian Casablancas is that guy who approaches a woman at a bar, slurredly tells her how much money he’s made in his lifetime, and expects that to immediately be his ticket to the bedroom. He’s the pinnacle of masculine pseudo-intelligence; the way in which he argues his opinions follows the logic of ‘I’m a successful man,’ and thus, ‘my opinion matters, although I have no idea what I’m talking about.’ Similar to his apparent idol Ariel Pink, I appreciate his music but could not disagree more with my swooning peers.

If you haven’t seen the internet takedowns on Twitter and other opinion sites, then allow me to introduce you to Casablancas’ most recent media flop: his interview with Vulture from earlier this month. In it, Casablancas moves from nonchalant rocker to a poorly-informed wannabe spokesperson — making arguments full of vague word choice, alternative facts, and unproductive bitching. Throughout, he argues for music that is “artistically valid,” judging the quality of such music by nothing other than his own taste. For those of you that don’t have the time to read it — or may tire out before finishing all 5,153 words, here’s it’s top five most cringe-worthy moments:

5. When he got combative with his interviewer.

We all love a little drama. But in an interview, the drama we love to hear is when one artist talks about another behind their back, or lets us in on some dirty secrets in their private lives — not when they after the interviewer for doing their job. Even better, writer David Marchese wasn’t even asking any touchy questions when attacked — he was simply answering Casablancas’. Here’s one of the more painful exchanges:

JC: Have you heard Ed Sheeran’s music?

DM: Yeah.

JC: Do you like it?

DM: It’s not my thing.

JC: Do you like Ariel Pink?

DM: Some of it.

JC: Do you think you have good taste in music?

Casablancas also attacks Marchese for saying things that he believes sound “100 percent like cultural brainwashing,” and tells him to “let go of [his] conditioning,” after Marchese said he couldn’t predict the future about how Ariel Pink may be perceived 20 years down the line. Casablancas’ hostile tone throughout is truly painful to read.

4. When he compared being a good musician to being a good doctor.

After lots of rambling about how pop culture supposedly doesn’t reflect musical “quality,” our author eventually asked Casablancas for a measure to judge quality by. His response?

JC: In terms of judging it superficially, that’s like saying, “What makes a good doctor?” There are lots of possible answers.

Except that, unlike musicianship, there are many unbiased measures why which someone is considered qualified to be a good doctor, including the USMLE (the United States Medical Licensing Examination), reviews on their home state’s licensing cite, and whether or not they’ve committed any the legally-defined malpractice. I also don’t know anyone who expects their doctor to evoke some strong emotion out of them through their art — you don’t develop a taste in cardiologists. So, even if judging the quality of a doctor was equally as vague as judging the quality of a musical artist, that comparison would prove absolutely nothing.

3. When he said David Bowie was “underground in the ‘70s.” So, here are some of the

characters David Bowie created in the 1970s:

[see article]

And here are some major magazine covers he did in the 1970s.

[see article]

Case closed.

2. When he called Martin Luther King Jr. his favorite “philosopher.”

Maybe “activist,” or “revolutionary,” would be better words. But, when Casablancas chose to call on MLK to criticize capitalism (“The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and the evils of racism,” is the quote that was used) it appears he couldn’t even remember the civil rights leader’s name. Yikes.

1. When he said Jimi Hendrix was never popular in his lifetime. This comment in particular tops the list because of the adamancy with which he said it. Here’s the transcript:

JC: Or Jimi Hendrix: People don’t realize that it took years for him to get the acclaim that he has now. You look at the charts back then and he was at No. 300. He didn’t have hits.

DM: Jimi Hendrix was very popular during his lifetime

JC: No, you’re seeing it through the rearview mirror.

DM: But Electric Ladyland was a number-one album.

JC: I don’t know. From what I’ve seen I thought he had never had any commercial success.

DM: He closed Woodstock.

JC: Okay.

Yes, Julian Casablancas asserted three times, with absolutely no doubt, that nobody was listening to Jimi Hendrix in his day. Remember that iconic moment when Jimi Hendrix played the National Anthem at Woodstock and made his guitar sound like crashing bombs?


Or when he set his guitar on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival?


Don’t worry, Julian doesn’t either.

Written by Veronica Irwin

Photo by Ysanya Perez

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