The Strokes weren’t quite the glue-sniffing gutter punks that The Ramones were. The Ramones were brought up in the Forrest Hills neighbourhood of Queens, where they were misfit outsiders who gravitated to the aggressive sounds of The Stooges and the New York Dolls. The Strokes were a group of first-generation Americans primarily raised in Manhattan who occasionally had to weather claims of undue privilege due to the status of Julian Casablancas and Albert Hammond Jr.’s fathers, the former a founder of Elite Model Management and the latter a famous musician in his own right.
Still, you’d be hard-pressed to find two bands more synonymous with the scuzz and excitement of New York City. The Ramones took their bubblegum pop-inspired songs and played them directly to the underground wave of artists and miscreants at CBGB’s. The Strokes took their souped-up Lou Reed inspired sound to a new age of hipster youth at the Mercury Lounge, less than a mile away from CBGB’s original home on The Bowery. They both favoured power chords and catchy choruses, both carried a certain detached, aloof coolness, and both had strong aesthetics that made them as exciting to look at as they were to listen to.
This is all to say that The Ramones certainly had a tangible influence on The Strokes. The members didn’t appear to be fairweather fans either; when it came time to record a B-side for their 2006 single ‘Heart in a Cage’ during the First Impressions of Earth sessions, the band decided to take on three deeper cuts instead of trotting out ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ or ‘Rockaway Beach’.
Ostensibly the band cover’s ‘Life’s A Gas’ from the band’s fourteenth and final studio album, Adios Amigos, but they also throw in the intro for ‘The KKK Took My Baby Away’ from 1981’s Pleasant Dreams for good measure.
Bridging the gap between classic punk and 2000s indie rock, The Strokes show off how the classic three-chord structure and breakneck intensity of The Ramones are woven into their collective musical DNA.
Check out The Strokes cover of ‘Life’s A Gas’ down below.