Before recording started, both parties organized a listening session with the musical material Hammond and Casablancas had brought to show the tone and energy they liked. One of the prerequisites mentioned at the meeting was to take what was happening in music at the time, and go in a completely different direction. Casablancas wanted Is This It to sound like "a band from the past that took a time trip into the future to make their record". The approach for the album became more studied than that of The Modern Age. The group wanted the majority of songs to sound like them playing live, while they requested a few others to be like "a weird, in-studio production with a drum machine, even though no drum machine was used". The songs of the latter type were done track-by-track and were crafted into non-standard rock arrangements. Raphael's background in industrial music played a large part in the album's conception.
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