• I'm With the Band: Albert Hammond Jr.

    You may know Albert Hammond Jr. as long time member of The Strokes, but he also has a totally noteworthy solo career. Albert recently released his new EP, AHJ, on his friend and bandmate Julian Casablancas' new label Cult Records, and it's a solid, five piece collection with some of AHJ's best and catchiest tracks. We sat down with Albert to talk about his musical process, what it's like working with Julian, and whether or not he's ever gotten carried away with his tour rider. Interview by Maddie Sensibile

    Maddie: Hey Albert! How has your solo tour been going so far?

    Albert: It's been wonderful. I've had a lot of really great turnouts.

    Maddie: Let's talk about your new EP, AHJ. What does it feel like to have both your own material and new music from The Strokes out this year?
    Albert: To be honest, I didn't even really think about it. I enjoy all the processes that it takes to make music, from the studio to playing live, so it's always good when you're working and having fun.

    Maddie: Growing up, what made you want to become involved in music?
    Albert:
    I never really wanted to do music - I only got into music around twelve or thirteen. I just kind of fell in love with Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison. There's no real reason; it's hard to explain that feeling of falling in love with something. It's not really an emotion that has a reason. It just exists.

    Maddie: This is your third release as a solo artist. What do you like most about being able to create everything yourself?
    Albert: I don't feel like I'm on my own. I work with Gus [Oberg] quite closely, and we usually bounce ideas. It's not something I wanted or I craved. When I have breaks, I write new music, and I just get so excited about something that it ends up getting recorded. It's kind of a funny thing to get really excited about something in your bedroom, or a new idea you're coming up with, and then continue that excitement through the recording process. It becomes so fulfilling that you can't wait to show people and then you're in this cycle.



    Maddie: Did you enjoy being able to work with Strokes bandmate Julian Casablancas in releasing the EP?

    Albert: There's nothing like working with your best friend. As soon as he had a label, I kept on having these ideas of wanting to do different stuff, but he wasn't ready for it yet. Then he came back and he was like I'm ready, and I was like Let me show you something new, and then it just built up. It's really exciting to be like that. It kind of feels like when we used to live together back in the early days, you know. We end up talking the same way we would when we're working together. It's more of a conversation, less of anything else.

    Maddie: How did you come up with the cover art for the EP, the growling Rottweiler?
    Albert:
    We had one beforehand that we all liked that we didn't use, so we were looking at other ones, and it just kind of came together. It just felt so fitting. There's no big reason or statement. The way I view work is that you look at stuff and everyone has different ideas, and then all of a sudden something just comes together, and it's better than everything else and everyone likes it.

    Maddie: Yeah, you just know it's right.

    Albert: Yeah, it's the same way you do music. The best idea is the one that wins and floats to the top.

    Maddie: What is your favorite thing to do in Los Angeles?
    Albert: I'm so bad with these lists. I don't like favorites - it's like tying you down to something. It's so weird because I could say something and never go back there again! One of my favorite things to do when I come to L.A. is to see Nick [Valensi] and his kids.

    Maddie: If you weren't playing and creating music, what do you think you'd be doing with yourself?
    Albert: That's a beautifully hypothetical question. If I could say anything... I remember the stuff I like. I like the idea of learning how to fly, and I love to cook, so maybe I would do something with that. I went to film school and I love movies, so maybe I would do something with that, too. I also like using my hands, so maybe I'd do construction or something. Hypothetically there are a million things. I would've loved to have been an athlete.

    Maddie: What's a song you've been feeling lately, or a favorite song of all time?
    Albert:
    "Goodbye Girl" by Squeeze.

    Maddie: Best vinyl record you own?
    Albert: One of my favorite records is Plastic Ono Band, John Lennon.

    Maddie: What's the craziest thing you've ever put on your tour rider, on your own or with The Strokes?
    Albert: It's gotta be crazier with The Strokes. It's going to be so boring, but when it gets crazy, you bring what you need yourself. By the time you can afford crazy things, you don't even need a rider, and that's what's so funny about it. By the time you make money, people are bringing you free clothes. But we don't ask for anything crazy. Lots of ice. For some reason, when we're in New York, people can't believe how much ice we ask for.