Julian Casablancas has criticised modern pop music in a new interview, blaming "cultural brainwashing" for Ed Sheeran's success.
The Strokes frontman insisted he has nothing against the 'Shape of You' singer in a lengthy Vulture interview, but suggested his popularity came from the "norms" people have "knocked into their heads".
The bummer for me, as a musician, is that the music world is the one place where commercial success seems to imply artistic quality.
"There are formulas to make the most amount of money out of music and those formulas don't incorporate the variable for quality," Casablancas said.
"The bummer for me, as a musician, is that the music world is the one place where commercial success seems to imply artistic quality."
Casablancas was talking to Vulture to promote the second album of his band, The Voidz.
"My mission is the same as it's been from day one, which is to try to make something that has artistic value and bring it to the mainstream. Nothing about that has changed.
Everything you're saying sounds 100 percent like cultural brainwashing.
"I strive to build a world where the Velvet Underground would be more popular than the Rolling Stones. Or where Ariel Pink is as popular as Ed Sheeran."
The Vulture interviewer argued that "one of those musicians is trying to be pop and one isn't", but Casablancas replied: "Everything you're saying sounds 100 percent like cultural brainwashing."
He emphasised he wasn't trying to attack Sheeran personally.
"People grow up with norms knocked into their heads," said Casablancas. "I'm not trying to diss Ed Sheeran or any pop star.
"Ed Sheeran seems like a nice, cool guy and I have nothing against his music. Let him sell a billion records.
"I'm just saying I don't understand why there can't be a world where Ed Sheeran gets 60 percent of the attention and Ariel Pink gets 40 percent. Now it's almost like Ed Sheeran gets 99.5 percent of it.
"If you could time-travel 30 years into the future, tell me who is going to be more popular - Ed Sheeran or Ariel Pink?"
Sheeran begins a six-date tour of New Zealand on March 24.
The Voidz album Virtue is set for release later this month.