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Fabrizio Moretti of Little Joy

A Stroke Strums

Little Joy, the latest project to come out of The Strokes camp during a two-year hiatus, pairs the bandís drummer Fabrizio Moretti with Rodrigo Amarante, of Brazilian rock outfit Los Hermanos, and mystery L.A. belle Binki Shapiro. The trio, named after a bar near its shared L.A. home, has a few subtle similarities with the Strokes -- mainly treble-heavy, crooning vocals -- with doses of Sam Cooke, Brazilian guitar and surf music. Little Joy performs December 9th at Slimís. Moretti spoke with SF Station from the road en route to Atlanta after the East Coast leg of his tour.

SF Station (SFS): Was it nice to be back in your old stomping grounds on the East Coast?

Fabrizio Moretti (FM): It sure was. As soon as I got in, I felt like a new man.

SFS: It sounds like the sunny California beach culture got under your skin on this record.

FM: Your environment influences you, I guess. Itís a really laid back, enjoyable place for me to live.

SFS: Do you remember anything from your childhood in Brazil?

FM: I remember some experiences from photographs. I was pretty young, and I have a pretty shitty memory, but I remember a few things. I have been going back there as much as I can. My parents and my brother moved back so I go and visit.

SFS: Have you always been a fan of Brazilian music?

FM: It has always kind of been in my subconscious. Itís kind of like the Beatles. I canít remember the first time I heard the Beatles, but I have always known the lyrics and the melodies because they have always been playing in the background. It is that way with some Brazilian music, especially having a Brazilian mom. As for as new Brazilian bands, I enjoy Los Hermanos, which is Rodrigoís band. I think they are very great.

SFS: Who taught you how to play guitar?

FM: I taught myself. My first lesson was from my dad. When I was very young, he taught me a couple of things. Julian [the Strokes singer] showed me some chords and progressions when I was 13, or so. Then I focused on the drums, and just recently started playing more and more guitar.

SFS: There are a lot of vocal harmonies on the record. Did that come naturally?

FM: I had to work pretty hard on that. I tried to write as many melodies as I could for one part of a song, and then I started to realize that you can build chords off of the note that is being sung by the lead vocal. Itís a way to build on the melody or the progression.

SFS: Was it difficult to shift from the big shows you were doing with the Strokes to the smaller clubs where you perform now?

FM: No, itís not hard, especially because I had a pretty long hiatus between the last Strokes show and the first Little Joy show. Itís a lot of fun, especially when Iím playing a sold-out crowd of 200 people. You have the sense of accomplishment that the venue is sold out, but you also have a sense of intimacy because there are not that many people.

SFS: Were you antsy to get back out during your hiatus?

FM: No, I kept myself busy. Iíve been working on this record -- itís been a long time coming for me -- and I just focused on that.

SFS: Did you feel vulnerable with the intimacy at of your shows?

FM: Absolutely. It might sound vain and ridiculous, but you start questioning the way you stand. When I started playing guitar I thought that if I practiced hard enough, I would just do what I do in my bedroom, but in front of people. When I was actually in front of people, I felt my fingers start to tremble.

SFS: Do you think the solo work that members of the Strokes have done will have an affect on the band when you meet to share ideas in February?

FM: I think all of this solo work has been indicative that we are not just the sum of the parts. We are individually capable, which makes us a stronger band.

SFS: Do you think that will create a different process for Strokes songs?

FM: I donít know. I like the old process, but we will see. I donít like to expect anything. I like to just see how things flow.

Little Joy performs at Slimís on December 9th. Tickets are $13 and the show starts at 8pm.