Because it means a lot of things that are artistic and strong. We all do interesting things in different ways and the words means interesting things in different ways. It just made so much sense that you can’t deny it.
We’d rejected a bunch of names. Nikolai said that made us laugh for days: ‘de Niros’ as in ‘the Niros’. I used to think of what the word actually meant: a stroke [holds his heart in an inaccurate medical mime], a stroke… blow to the face… a stroke in a painting. The one I think of the most is the brushstroke. But now I just of five dudes standing around.
There were so many different meanings to it, it could never pin us down. So many people have said ‘stroke of luck’, ‘stroke this’… there’s never one thing they can focus on. There’s when you have a stroke, cerebral congestion; there’s a stroke when you play guitar; then there’s the obvious sexual undertones.
When it first came up, it was like, ‘Oh, The Strokes, like a wank.’ Then a person said ‘No, it’s The Strokes like a heart attack’. Then another person said,’…like a caress’. It rolled off the tongue really well – sort of violent and sort of sexual and it just sounded cool to everybody.
We’d come in with all these bad names – the de Niros, the Rubber Bands, the Motels, Flattop Freddie and the Purple Canoes – and no one would agree. One day we’re in the studio after practice and Julian said ‘The Strokes’. And everyone was like ‘that sounds great!’. It was that easy; five guys agreeing. it doesn’t really mean anything. We thought it was a cool rock and roll name. When I first heard it, it sounded so old, like someone would have already taken it but no one did. Then I looked it up in the dictionary and ‘a powerful blow to the face, chest or body’ was the first thing. Perfect. That’s exactly what our music is. It’s like a powerful blow to the face.