Albert Hammond, Jr.: Of Sobriety and Style

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A few days after our interview happened, guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr. was taking a much-needed break in Barcelona for the Primavera Sound Festival where he did double duty as guitarist for The Strokes and as frontman for his solo band. “It was fun! I didn’t know what it was going to be like. It was the opening day, but it was really full and the crowd was really excited. We got to play two new songs,” recounts Albert about his performance as a solo artist during the festival. It took him a while to release his third full-length album entitled Momentary Masters, produced by Grammy winner Gus Oberg, following his last LP, ¿Cómo Te Llama?, back in 2008. According to Albert, it wasn’t as if he wasn’t doing anything between then and now. “I made two Strokes records and then my EP,” he explains. During that phase, he also admits he was struggling with drug addiction—the entire period was a bit wavering. He went into rehab for a year and a half in 2010, and he’s been working on being sober ever since. When asked what it was that finally made him decide to kick the habit, he says it was either luck or the way he was brought up that caused the realization. “Maybe it just became obvious that there were two roads, and I just decided that I couldn’t take the other one. I loved doing drugs, but I didn’t like the outcome waiting at the end, which wasn’t why I started doing them to begin with. So once I realized it was just a problem and was past the point of whatever experimentation I was going through, I somehow popped out of it for a second and chose the right way,” he admits. However, he’s still a work in progress, but as long as he keeps himself in the correct path, he’ll be fine. “Sobriety definitely helped me understand my gut reaction more, and to progress. I think I was stuck for a long time, I hadn’t grown, so I feel like that in itself helped what I wanted to do in music.”

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He has always been very hands-on with the production of all his albums—from writing the lyrics, playing the guitar, and arranging the songs. “Everything is hard if you want to do it well,” admits Albert. Other than the fact that he had a change in his band lineup, what’s different with Momentary Masters is that he really took ample time with it. He wasn’t constantly rushing himself because he wanted something that he’s deeply excited to share with everyone. “I had all these new people, and then the way they were translating my old music made it feel like I was in a band, which was really exciting for me. This was like how it would feel if we had started from scratch. It feels fresh; it feels like I could do it again, it excites you. The whole record sounds like that, very energetic,” shares Albert. “We recorded this album differently. It was all done upstate, and I was lucky enough to spend a lot more time on lyrics and melodies and then the singing of it. Everyone in the band was so good that it helped me focus a little more. The excitement is what drives everything—you want more of that.”

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“Everything is hard if you want to do it well.”

With a bunch of performances lined up all over the US and Europe, he can’t wait to test drive his album and take it to the road. “I mean, this whole year of touring we’re trying to plan for Momentary Masters, it’s what I’m looking forward to. We have eight weeks in America. I play in pretty small venues; it’s nice to try to sell them out this time, ‘cause sometimes there wasn’t enough time for people to know that I was coming around.” Expect a good set list of new and old songs from all of Albert’s gigs. “I have three albums and an EP. I’m going to play a wide variety of music. I like making a set list, actually my wife makes the set list, but I like a good story,” he says.

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“I want to play for people, I want to be successful. I want go around the world and convince people that I’m good and I’m worth listening to.”

Aside from a pretty engaging set, also look forward to what Albert is going to wear, since the musician is probably one of the best-dressed guitarists around, having had his own line of suits and now, ties. “Recently, I’ve been feeling a little better, and I’ve been dressing less casual and wearing either that red jumpsuit onstage or a suit. It’s fun to dress up for the different times in your life. My mom told me I’ve been doing it since I was two years old; I dress myself to go to school and I don’t even remember doing that,” shares Albert. Given that there’s a lot new with Albert—music, band, civil status, and habits—his aims for his craft and life remains. “I want to play for people, I want to be successful. I want go around the world and convince people that I’m good and I’m worth listening to.”

alberthammondjr.com
@alberthammondjr

Published in STATUS Magazine, August 2015

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