Nicholas "Nick" Valensi is an American musician, and a founding member of the American rock band The Strokes, in which he primarily plays lead guitar and occasionally rhythm guitar. He also acts as lead vocalist and guitarist in his own band, CRX.
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Hello there. My name is nick valensi. You may know me as the guitarist for the strokes. I have a brand new band called CRX and we just released our debut album, New Skin. I think you'll enjoy it.
Here's a link for tour dates and tickets: http://www.crxmusic.com/tour/ Here is proof it’s me: https://twitter.com/crxmusic/status/784465379250823169 Here is photographic proof it’s me, Nick Valensi: https://www.instagram.com/p/BMR6nCQBwb9/?taken-by=crxmusic
UPDATE -- I GOTTA GO NOW. I HAVE CRX REHEARSAL IN 20 MINUTES. WE'RE GOING ON TOUR IN A WEEK. CHECK TOUR DATES ON OUR SITE AND COME TO A SHOW! THE REDDIT THING WAS FUN. THANKS FOR THE GREAT QUESTIONS, AND FOR BEING GENERALLY AWESOME. LET'S DO THIS AGAIN SOMETIME.
Thanks for doing this! I've always been curious as to why the Strokes have never played Tap Out live? This just seems like a great live song begging to be played.
i agree. i'll try harder to convince my colleagues
Hey Nick! Big fan here.
I was just wondering, when the Strokes release release their new album do you guys plan on touring or will you guys go the Comedown machine route? I know a lot of people would love to see you guys live, but not everyone can make it to the big festivals you guys play.
it's hard to be a strokes fan sometimes! i'm gonna try my best to get the dudes on the road for a proper tour once we done with an album
What advice would you give to a young man who wants to make a career playing in a rock band?
How's the Riviera, Nick?
old bessie is alive and well and currently residing in NYC. she's old, and she only works with the strokes nowadays. she's, like, semi-retired
Hey Nick! Loving the new album and it's sound. Do you have a favorite song from it?
How did you manage to pick up singing so easily?
Did Nikolai ever fix the zoom?
Have you heard Tyranny? What are your opinions on it? Any favorites?
You rock dude!
i like music and singing, so i just picked it up. i dunno.
nikolai broke that friggin zoom and it's still broken to this day.
tyranny is such a dope ass album that i got a lil bit P B and jelly
Hey Nick! Longtime fan here. Because of the Strokes, I have this wonderful friend group online who are also my age and Strokes fans, and we have a groupchat just to send stupid Strokes memes. (One of those people is the girl who won the CRX test pressing contest!) So thank you for being a part of making that possible.
My questions (answer whatever ones you feel like!):
1. Do you enjoy looking at the dumb Strokes memes people like us make?
2. Were there any main albums or bands that influenced your new band/record?
3. Of all the animals to be obsessed with, why chickens?
4. Were there any specific events that inspired this record? It seems like a lot of lyrics deal with putting on a straight face and dealing with things. Any reason why?
5. Because yesterday was Halloween, what's your favorite candy?
6. Is there a Strokes song you're most proud of?
Thanks again for coming out and doing this wonderful AMA!
hi, thanks for the support! i love you. i'm not a big meme guy, but i just looked at some strokes memes online, and they're cool.
i'm not OBSESSED with chickens haha. someone asked my fave animal, and i gave an honest answer.
lots of influences on this rcord -- QOTSA, bjork, the cars, nirvana, kanye, missy elliot (+ timbaland), elvis costello, fear
i eat a lot of candy. spree, nerds, life savers, bubble gum (i like cotton candy or grape flavor bubbalicious)
Hey, Nick. My mom Karen was your yoga instructor. How's the flexibility these days?
I'm also a big fan of your work and guitar tone. I'm learning more about theory and it makes me wonder--do you write/play what sounds good or what you know is musically correct? Thanks for doing the AMA
Hi! tell your mom i say wassup. i need to get back on it with the yoga. some of the coolest musical moments (for me) is when something SHOULDN'T sound good (in theory), but it just sounds so RIGHT to your ears. it's those times that you feel like you've unlocked some secret that's never been discovered. so.... yes, learn the theory, but be prepared to ignore it if you wanna do original shit
Congrats on getting Josh to produce New Skin; such a sick sound! What's your favorite Queens of the Stone Age song?
too many to mention! i loved the era vulgaris album... possibly my fave. although clockwork was a masterpiece too
Yo Nick. What are your thoughts about Oasis?? Favorite song(s) by them? And have you seen Supersonic?
noel is one of the coolest people ever, and liam has one of the best voices of our generation. awesome fucking band.
Is there any talk of releasing your TWO Gov ball shows? That would make a great box set.
whoa, that's a rad idea
Also why didn't you play Oblivius at Gov Ball? side note, saw you at mercury lounge and you sounded fantastic. can't wait for Bowery!
sometimes casablancas pulls audibles onstage, and he'll add a song or take away a song. i didn't ask him why, but shit like that happens. it don;t bug me none
i just wanted to say that I really love you and Fab's relationship. I think it's so nice to have someone like that who's so supportive. will you tell him I said hi and that I appreciate him a lot?
he's my favorite person ever. i wish everyone could have such a amazing, supportive, intelligent, creative, (and handsome) friend
Hey Nick, what do you think you'd be doing as a career right now if you had chosen not to become a musician?
Also, how is your French??
my french is aaaaight. accent is 8/10. vocab and grammar are 4/10
i never had a plan B for a career path. i started a band with julian and fab when i was 13 and never looked back
What did you do for halloween? did you dress up?
i went trick or treating with my kids and too much candy and got a tummy ache. duh
Hey Nick ! i really like your new Album especially Anything and Slow Down. Do you think the Strokes will lack good ideas for an Album 'cause you all focus on solo stuff? And is there any Chance to see you 5 on Tour again? Greetings <3
nah man. something special happens when we get together that doesn't happen with other groups. the ideas will come
Hi Nick! Cliche I know but I am a huge fan! Got two questions if that isn't too cheeky.
1) Having use two guitars in the Strokes and CRX, what is the key, in your opinion, to writing dual guitar songs? Asking as me and a mate are trying to come up with stuff like that at the moment.
2) What’s your biggest ‘don’t’ for a someone who has played for 8 years, but is still quite young (high school equivalent)?
Cheers for taking the time to read this!
in a dual guitar band, you really wanna play less. don't play a full chord -- only play 2 notes. and tell the other guitar player to pick 2 different notes in the same chord. when you play together, it'll sound tighter and less clunky. also, get a good bass player
How has the creative process been different making music with CRX compared to making music with the Strokes? It was a bit surreal seeing you without your epiphone and playing rhythm on Jimmy Kimmel a month ago.
before i put the band together, i was writing and demo'ing songs alone, and that was very difficult. i'm used to having people in the room to bounce ideas off. eventually, i lost perspective and started doubting myself. that's when i reached out to the dudes who are now in CRX, as well as Josh Homme. once i had some infrastructure in place, things started to feel more familiar
If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?
i'd go back and act on some missed opportunities. but that's about it
Hey Nick, big fan of you and your guitar playing. How come you decided to shelve the Jekyll and Hyde?
As a followup, how are you making that gorgeous crunchy but smooth sound in your recent live performances with The Strokes? Thanks for doing the AMA and can't wait to see more from CRX and The Strokes!
the 1st gen jekkyl & hyde was my jam. i didn't like the ones that came after. lately i've been using the JHS color box and klon centaur for all overdrive sounds
Any guilty pleasures when it comes to music? Or any up and coming bands you recommend listening to?
PS hit me up if you wanna grab brunch after CRX's LA performance on December 6.
is this a guilty pleasure?? -- i listen to the hamilton soundtrack almost every day
I saw your tele custom in person when you played with CRX at the taping. Very nice, did Fender make that custom for you? Any plans of a new signature model?
i found the white tele at guitar center in sherman oaks, ca. i played it for a bit, and really liked it. but, man, it was very expensive. i don't like guitars that are too expensive. so i left it there and went home. and for the next 3 days, i obsessed over that white tele. it's all i could think about. so i just said fuck it and bought it. and it was worth every penny
Hey Nick, can't wait to see you and CRX in Toronto. I have a pretty specific question, when The Strokes play "Life is Simple in the Moonlight", do you guys use a backing track for the synth part or someone backstage?
i'm not really into backing tracks at a rock show. to me, it's the same thing as athletes taking steroids -- you're a better performer, but it ruins the integrity of the show, and makes it unfair for other performers. just my 2 cents
Hi Nick thank u for doing the ama!! I was at gov ball and it was great 1 question, why were you late to governors ball?
i didn't know i was late! sorry bout that
After being in a supporting role for much of your musical past, how has the transition to “front-man” been? I imagine playing guitar and singing at the same time (if you’re not used to it) being a bit like learning vibrato on a violin or rubbing your stomach while patting your head, but for some people it just comes naturally it seems.
Would you say that the style you have with CRX has is more preferable for you to play? maybe “your style”, or is it just one of many that you enjoy?
I’m a fan of Broken Bones. The song “Slow Down” on the album is pretty catchy. Hopefully I can watch you guys live sometime soon.
Also, how was it that you and Amanda got together if you don’t mind my asking? I assume things started while she was your photographer. Did you guys just hit it off right away? Is there a story behind it all?
Amanda’s an amazing photographer and has some impressive accomplishments.
Sorry for the book of text, and don’t feel the need to answer everything if it’s a bit much. I have more questions, but I’ll leave them to other people because I’m sure they’ll be asked.
P.S. Not to be weird or anything but my wife and I believe you to be the second most visually appealing man in the world, right behind James Franco.
hey man. you and your wife seem very cool and smart haha. i met my wife when the strokes filmed an MTV $2 bill thing (remember that?) ... she asked me if i liked sushi, which i most certainly do, and she said she knew the best sushi place in town. and that was that. i was smitten .
do you play any instruments other than the guitar?
i play it all babe. what you got?
How did finding success early on (and the accompanying attention) influence your ambition as an artist? At some point it becomes a profession and judging by the way the Strokes, as a band, have approached their music I would imagine you all have more complicated approaches than just "we need to remain commercially viable".
i've always just tried to make good stuff, and always believed that good things will come if we make good stuff. that sounds overly simplistic and idealistic but is for real
What did it feel like to commit everything to music at such a young age? Was your family supportive of your decision?
my family wasn't supportive until i started earning money. once you make money, everyone's like, "oh, i always knew he'd make it" hahah
Hi Nick, I just wanted to say thank you for all of the music you have contributed making over the years. The Strokes have been through everything with me since grade 8 (I'm now living on my own in Alberta starting off my career).
I feel like my biggest question I would have for you is, when you started with the Strokes and have continued with them and now CRX too, did you ever imagine impacting hundreds of thousands of people like myself in such a large way with your music?
Also, did you enjoy Tyranny? Fave song off of it?
i loved tyranny. i don't know all the song titles, but i love the one that goes "duh-duh-duh-duh-duh / oh-oh-oh"
Hey Nick!! first just wanted to say thanks for taking time out of your day to answer our questions and also i love new skin! the Give it up solo is amazing. my question is when your guitar got lost/stolen, how did you manage to find it and what did you have to do to restore it after all the damage it had?
the guitar never made it off an american airlines cargo plane at LAX. i thought it was gone forever. 6 weeks later, i got a phone call (on my cell) from a random post office in LA saying they had a package with my name on it, and i owe $85 postage fee (!!?) because they stored it for 6 weeks. i rushed over, and they had my guitar. they kept asking me how it got mixed in with US mail and i was like, "i don't fucking know! you guys are the post office!" i opened the case and the guitar was covered with rust, mold, and looked awful. it had been left out in the rain i believe. i sent it straight to my man todd money at gibson usa and he went all dr frankenstein on it. completely restored
Do you watch Breaking Bad?
do you like baking bread?
Hey thanks for doing this AMA! I was wondering, with singing being new to you, what are some things you did to find your singing voice for CRX? I would like to learn to sing but I don't know if I have the voice for it.
i demo'd a bunch of tracks on my laptop, then i spent a year singing on the tracks. every day. i would change my voice, alter my delivery, switch up the rhythym/phrasing, copy other people's voices, rewrite lyrics/melodies, change the key, sing more quiet/loud/breathy/scream-y, whataver. basically just experimenting and having fun until i liked what i heard
when you will upload a photo on snapchat of CRX??👻
we didn't do that yet? i dunno maybe later today. thanks for the reminder
Hey Nick! I'm a huge fan of the Strokes, and your guitar playing in general. I love your lightly distorted guitar tone, and it inspired me to save up for a tube amp and honestly change my playing altogether. I've just got three questions I wanted to ask:
How has aging affected your songwriting? I just turned 20, and I tend to be depressed a lot by the fact that I've lived 1/4 of my life already. I know how much it affects me personally and was just wondering how it affects your music.
Secondly I wanted to ask what the influences for Come Down Machine are? I honestly think that is the best Stroke's album beside Is This It.
Lastly, I plan on getting my first delay pedal soon and was wondering if you could give me a suggestion for under a hundred dollars.
Thanks! I'm a huge fan, and look forward to hearing your solo album.
relax, yo. you have plenty of time. i didn't even write a complete song until i was like 23, 24. before that it was just riffs and random chords. some people get better with age.
Hey Nick, obviously a huge fan...so are you faking it or is it everyone else who is? i'm confused
i dunno. everyone i guess. me included. i just write shit down and sing it, man. i don't really know what i'm talking about.
How long have you been playing guitar ??
Also, what other instruments can you play/ are there any ones out there you would like to learn?
hey now! i started whn i was 5-6 because my dad played and i wanted him to show me chords. i wanna know how to play all instruments! i can make noises with horns, harps, drums, keys, strings, whatever. dunno how musical it sounds, but i can play it
Hey Nick! Big fan here. What have you been listening to lately that really caught your ear?
i'm listening to a band called KIEV right now. from orange county. pretty dope
why do you like LA so much ?
i like big cities, but i also like privacy and wide open spaces. where can you get that?