Julian and Karen O share the most recent cover of Time Out New York. They interviewed each other and took some exclusive pics around the city.
O: So this is something that I actually am really curious about—it’s something that I like to talk to other songwriters about. Do lyrics come easy for you?
Casablancas: [Laughs] Uh, yeah. [Laughs] No! It’s the hardest thing.
O: This is why I love talking about this.
Casablancas: My biggest issue with lyrics, to go off on a tangent: I always really disliked—not disliked but just personally as a musician-artist couldn’t give two S’s about musical theater. The two musicals I like are The Wall and Jesus Christ Superstar. Other than that, I really don’t like. But I understand why people like it, because there’s expression in melody that can say more than just a thing. Even though someone’s just singing [Sings] “Hello, how’s it going?” the melody can kind of say, Oh, she really loves him or she’s scared of this guy. The reason I’m talking about this is because I think it translates to [how] the words themselves get completely transformed meaning-wise by the melody and performance, so you can write the coolest, deepest line, and you sing it, and it just sounds like the most contrived.… And “Ooh, baby, baby, baby…” for some reason, it just works, and it’s more powerful.
O: When did you figure that out, by the way?
Casablancas: I don’t know—I wrestle with it constantly, because I don’t want to say, “Ooh, baby, baby, baby”; I want to say…whatever. “Freedom to the heatseekers” came into my mind. But “freedom to the heatseekers” doesn’t work; it doesn’t sound good; it ruins the melody; it sounds heavy-handed. And I’m like, I’ll just sing, “Ooh, baby, baby, baby,” and the meaning of my song has gone to total S. I have a four-year-old; I don’t know why I’m not cursing [here]. I cursed earlier.