warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Interview: Guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. Of The Strokes

Christina Savan |
November 8, 2013 | 6:12 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes went solo for his latest Oct. 8th five-song EP, “AHJ." "St Justice", "Strange Tidings", "Carnal Cruise", "Rude Customer" and "Cooker Shit" mark the first set of songs released by the 33-year-old since his 2009 stint in rehab. The artist revealed that over the years he has learned how to deal with the pressures that come along with releasing new music.I think that when you try to create something that you think is great, something that you feel is your best... you’re always going to feel pressure,” Hammond said.   

BELOW: "St. Justice" is the first official music video to be released off of "AHJ."


We caught up with the artist to talk about his reaction to Rock legend Lou Reed’s passing, the pros and cons of going solo and much more...

I read in another one of your interviews that the name of your song “Cooker Ship” is from the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin.” Given that, what was your reaction to the news of Lou Reed passing?

I was more shocked than I thought I would be. I don’t know why because I knew he was ill. When I read it I just felt…you know, I was emotionally silenced for a bit. He had a huge influence on my life, so yeah, it was really sad. I am so sad for his wife as well.

Do you ever give thought to your own musical legacy, and does that at all influence the frequency and kind of music that you’re producing now?

For me, I am still alive and doing stuff so it feels weird to think of anything besides what’s happening right now. I really don’t feel…I know this might come across strange but I don’t feel like I’ve done everything I want to do. I feel like if I sat and thought about what I did it would make me stale. 

While writing and recording “AHJ,” did you feel more or less pressure to “deliver” or get more personal with your songwriting with these songs versus those that you record as part of a group?

I mean, I think that when you try to create something that you think is great, something that you feel is your best...you’re always going to feel pressure. Pressure is kind of how things get done. I don’t think pressure is a bad thing. If you let it get the best of you it is. I have learned to not let that affect me as much as it would in the past but yeah, I always feel a positive pressure for sure. 

What is the biggest pro of putting together a record on your own? Biggest con?

Biggest con is you know…being in The Strokes I’ve got my four other bandmates that I have been with for 12 years or so. There is this safety net if you will or a thing that we all share in.  The pro to it is when you do something by yourself you get to experience it on your own and you can bring that back to the band dynamic which is something that proves to be a very positive thing to do. 

What was your thinking behind releasing a 5-song EP versus a full-length album?

An album seems…kinda dead to me. I’m tired of doing what our parents did.  

Your song “Rude Customer” is hilarious. Is it based off of anything that happened in real life?

I wasn’t thinking of a certain thing. I feel like that’s how it is with music when things inspire you. It’s not always what you are just listening to. Things get absorbed in your head over time and they leak out so I imagine it was something but it wasn’t something I can pinpoint. 

As a musician who’s been active for more than a decade now, how has your relationship with the media changed?

At first you are naïve to it (the media) and you are confused at why, at least in our situation, we had attention which starts to get out of control and then you don’t know how to explain your three dimensional being in a two dimensional way. You start hating how you come across and so you start to pull away from it.

When you were first seen with The Strokes, you often were wearing suits, ties and shaggy hair. Would you say your fashion sense has changed over the years and does that affect your music as well?

Dressing is a modern way of showing a side of personality, a side of how you are feeling, what makes you feel comfortable, to attract a certain person to you or certain groups of people. I feel like over time you change. This has nothing to do with music, but you change in what you wear…or at least I do. I wouldn’t wear a different pair of pants and write a different song, you know what I mean. I might just want to wear a different pants and then also happen to be writing different music.  

BELOW: Click HERE to listen to the interview.

Reach Staff Reporter Christina Savan here. Follow Christina on Twitter.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.