Music & Entertainment

Getting QYURRYUS with Julian Casablancas & the Voidz in Vegas (INTERVIEW)

Julian Casablancas and the Voidz brought Vegas to its knees as they gave a jaw-dropping performance at the Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas.

Photo Source: Desiree Tolentino for Julian Casablancas and the Voidz (2019)
Photo Source: Desiree Tolentino for Julian Casablancas and the Voidz (2019)

This past weekend, Julian Casablancas and his most recent endeavor, the Voidz, took over the Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas and got the crowds dancing. Playful and vibrant by nature, the band did not disappoint. From hitting a strike mid-set while bowling with some lucky fans on the lanes adjacent to the stage or bringing a fully-lit birthday cake out for their drummer’s birthday, the Voidz know how to put on a stellar show.

I was fortunate enough to speak with frontman, Julian Casablancas, and guitarist, Amir Yaghmai, after the show in their green room.

Greeting me with kind smiles and post-set enthusiasm, the two sat and talked to me about their studio atmosphere, hopes for the future, interests, and performing in Vegas.

Your performance tonight was astounding! Do you guys like playing in Vegas?

Amir YaghmaiThe performance tonight was great. The crowd was amazing. It’s been a minute since we’ve played a show. This is one of our first times playing. We may have played before, but this is definitely one of our first times out here. We like it.

Julian Casablancas
I like the vibe out here. It’s so surreal. I love the malls –they don’t really have any in New York. I think they opened one up when I was like 18, but generally malls were a novelty… I like the 24-hour thing and the gambling… I love magic. Haha. I’m joking. There’s definitely a darkness to the city as well. There’s something about it.

Photo Source: Desiree Tolentino for Julian Casablancas and the Voidz (2019)
Photo Source: Desiree Tolentino for Julian Casablancas and the Voidz (2019)

For our readers who may not know, how did the Voidz form? Did you guys know each other before becoming a band?

Julian: I think the short answer [as far as how we formed] would be: the desire to make something that we artistically find intriguing with the people that we artistically respect.

Amir: I actually met Julian on this project for the first time. I knew Jake, our bass player, for a long time. As far as the other members go, I knew of them in the local music scene. Like for [our drummer] Alex, I heard him play before and knew of him–

Julian: You knew of Alex? [chuckles]

Amir: Well, yeah, he gigged with other bands and was talked about as this monster drummer guy. A lot of us would play in bands but also do studio sessions. It’s not such a big world –that kind of studio musician world in LA– so people would get reputations, so people would say Alex was a beast –and he is.

Photo Source: Desiree Tolentino for Julian Casablancas and the Voidz (2019)
Photo Source: Desiree Tolentino for Julian Casablancas and the Voidz (2019)

What typically inspires your music and the topics that you choose to sing about?

Amir: Lately it’s been just sitting in a room and playing — jamming– so the root of that would be whatever someone has on their mind that day. That, and whatever we’ve been listening to.
Julian: Childhood dreams mixed with the internet and whatever is crazy and inspiring that’s come up over the last few years.

What are you guys currently listening to? I know you guys have pretty unique tastes in music.

Amir: I’ve been listening to a lot more than I usually do. I don’t know why. But I’ve been getting into a lot of different kinds of music.
Julian: Is it because you’re trying to test out your new speakers?
Amir: A hobby of mine is listening to music on–
Julian: Forcing other people to listen to your music on your new speakers!
Amir: I’ve bought a lot of records from random yard sales, so a lot of the time, I’ll put one on. Some times it’s too scratchy but sometimes there’s some good ones. Lately, that’s what it’s been for me.
Julian: I’m always listening to the radio, so whatever’s on there, basically. I tend to have below a ’92, but recently, I had a car that had XM radio so there’s been a lot of ’40s junction, things like that.

Is there anything that you guys have planned for the future? Anything special coming up?

Julian: Yeah. Announcing plans is always tricky though.

Is there anything that you *want* to do? Do you guys want to tour or release more new music?

Amir: Both! For sure! And we’re working hard to do both.
Julian: There’s a lot going on.
Amir: We’ve been working a lot –sessioning, jamming, and writing together– so we have a lot to sift through at the moment. There’s hours and hours of music that we need to pick and choose from.

Photo Source: Desiree Tolentino for Julian Casablancas and the Voidz (2019)
Photo Source: Desiree Tolentino for Julian Casablancas and the Voidz (2019)

Are there any studio session memories noteworthy of sharing?

Amir: There are definitely memories, but for the sake of not revealing too much about our plans, I won’t say.

Speaking of memorable moments, I can’t believe you bowled during the set today!

Julian: Yeah! It was right down the middle too. I couldn’t believe it, and I was hoping it would be a strike. But you know what I realized? I needed a heavier ball.
Amir: If I were you, I would’ve dreaded getting a gutter ball the entire time.
Julian: There was definitely a lot of pressure, but from the adrenaline of performing and being on stage, I could feel that it was going to be a strike.
Amir: I wish I had that kind of confidence.
Julian: No, it felt good! It went right down the middle. I’m pretty sure they’re on strings too, so the pins don’t explode like they should. So it’s bullshit, basically.

Are you looking forward to touring anywhere specific in the future?

Amir: Specifically? And I’m not just saying this because it’s our next show, but Santa Ana. It’s right outside of LA. It’s an odd choice, but the music fans are always so excited and pumped anytime we perform. Record sales in that area have blown up. The energy is high. San Francisco as well. It’s always been one of my favorite. There’s a lot of history. They appreciate good music.

The Voidz

What’s your favorite song  to perform?

Julian: Father Electricityyyyyyyy! [chuckles]
Amir: I’ve been trying to get that off the set…. I succeeded at one point, but it’s made a comeback.
Julian: QYURRYUS too. The end of Qyurryus is pretty crazy.

What do you prefer: jam sessions or performing live?

Julian: To be honest, the best things come from when we jam.  When we jam and something great comes out, it feels great. If we could have that happen but in front of a crowd, that would be greater. We’ve done it before and it was great. Tonight was more of a jokey-type of set…
Amir: Some of the best songs come from jokes, I’ve heard.
Julian: I’ve never heard that…

Do you have any words of wisdom to end the night with?

Amir: Listen as much as you can (in both music and in life,) and seek out things that interest you. From a technical music stand-point, some of the best players I know listen to the radio and play along with the radio. That helps them figure out how songs are made.
Julian: I mean, overall, I don’t know. I don’t want to tell people how to live their lives, really. I mean, what I’ll say [for my word of wisdom] is: don’t do corporate news alerts. You gotta find, like, independent shit. But that’s if you care about news… If you dont, who cares. The news that people read always shocks me. The news provided to them are from, like, these companies that have their own agendas. They’re the same companies that spend millions, if not, billions of dollars that contribute to fucking shit up so badly. It’s crazy. I get into arguments about it a lot.

Photo Source: Desiree Tolentino for Julian Casablancas and the Voidz (2019)
Photo Source: Desiree Tolentino for Julian Casablancas and the Voidz (2019)

Let’s end the night on a high note: favorite thing on your rider?

Amir: Peanut M&Ms. It’s a quality candy.

Julian: I think they had jalapeno chips in our dressing room today? Those were cool.

It was definitely a pleasure hanging out with Julian and Amir this past weekend, and I hope I get to see all the amazing things they have planned released soon!

Stay up to date with the Voidz by checking them out here.

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