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Pop / Rock 05/10/2001

The Strokes Perform Controversial 'New York City Cops' Song Live

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NEW YORK (AP) - New York's the Strokes might have recalled its RCA debut, Is This It?, in North America in the wake of the terrorist attacks because it contained the song, "New York City Cops" (Sept. 19), but when the band crossed into Canada Tuesday (Oct. 2) to play a show at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern, all was forgotten.

"Fuck it, fuck it. We like this song," lead singer Julian Casablancas told the jam-packed crowd, which had waited in line to get into the free club show since mid-afternoon. "We live in New York. It's fucked up. The cops have killed a lot more people than they're saying and that's the fuckin' truth."

With that, the blistering five-piece launched into a raw and fierce version of "New York City Cops," satisfying the few yahoos who had been calling out for the band to play it, the same yahoos who put their middle fingers in the air in a gesture of perceived solidarity.

The lyric goes, "New York City cops they ain't too smart." The song, which is still available on Is This It? outside of North America, was replaced with "When It Started" and the release date in the U.S. and Canada pushed back from Sept. 25 to next Tuesday (Oct. 9).

Earlier in the day, bassist Nikolai Fraiture explained the reason for the self-censorship. "Immediately I was watching, thinking 'Holy shit,' not thinking about the song. I could not believe what was going on. It was only that same day, to get our minds off things, we went into the studio, which is pretty much in the middle of city, which is a little scary, and we were running through our songs and after playing that one, we were like, 'Whoa!' Automatically something was weird. We thought a long time before we made the decision to take it off the album.
"The reason we made that decision was because we still had the choice here," he continues. "It's not out yet here, in North America, so we had the choice to either leave it on or take it out and having that choice, we, for many, many reasons, decided to take it off. It's already out everywhere else."

Fraiture said subsequent pressings outside North America will continue to contain the song. "I think elsewhere in the world, they're more able to understand that the album was already pressed. We wrote the song a year ago. It has nothing much to do with New York City cops, and even less with what happened. It's like a story. So people around the world are more able to understand that. In America right now, it's a sensitive subject."

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