On January 28, 2014, Co-Founder Jon Birondo and two friends went to the Jake Bugg show at the House of Blues in Dallas. Touring with Bugg was The Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. and indie rock band The Skins! As we crept up to the green room, I inquired to Mr Hammond about an interview, to which he happily obliged. We had the lucky chance to interview him during Bugg’s set! Enjoy!
Interview by Jon Birondo
Transcribed By Bruno Brenes
PNG: Your guitar tone and style within and outside of The Strokes is instantly recognizable and that’s what makes your work such a fundamental influence for many new bands. What guitarists and guitar styles influenced you the most or drew you towards guitar as an instrument to learn in the first place?
AHJ: Um…Funny enough guitar players that influenced me don’t so much influence me now on tone, but uh… I guess when I was growing up: Buddy Holly, and John Lennon, and Lou Reed. I was never into like crazy lead guitar players. Um, I don’t know, then. You kind of just get the instrument and fool around. I think the best way to learn is kind of you have to… You have to know what you don’t like just as much as what you do like, and that kinda makes your sound.
PNG: How does releasing an EP on a friend’s record label differ to your releases on Rough Trade and what inclined you to make to switch to Cult?
AHJ: it wasn’t so much a switch. Everything I did on Rough Trade was little one-offs, and then when Julian started the label it just seemed cool. I was excited to either put out a single or do something. We’d been talking about it for so long… Working together, I mean since we were kids… So the fact that when it happened it was just kind of like, “cool lets just do this!” It just seemed like the obvious, you know, reason to go. Why was it an EP? I mean, it just happened to be an EP. No real… It wasn’t like thought out before. It was gonna be a song and then it turned into two, then three, and four, and five, and then we just stopped at five, cause it was like let’s just put it out sooner then later.
JON: This one’s a personal question from me. I’m a HUGE fan of The Strokes. When should we expect a tour from The Strokes?
AHJ: Ah, I don’t know.
JON: darn! Also another personal question, Fabrizio (drummer for The Strokes) is one of my favorite drummers of all time. Can you say ‘Hi’ to him for me?
AHJ: (Laughing) I’ll tell you him you said “Hi”!
PNG: Thanks for that! Next question: Was there any new territory explored on “AHJ” that you never did with The Strokes?
AHJ: Um I think there is new territory to explore in every time you step in a studio, or you begin writing, or you work with different people. That’s just the process of human evolution, really in anything you do. You know, you try not to do the same thing twice and something new excites you in the moment that you do it. It’s not like… It’s not so much like, “ugh I’m being held back in this thing” and then you go and do that thing. It’s just… You just get excited about… I try to focus on the positive things, You know, like what I’m getting excited about. Not like… It’d be kinda hard to create with… I guess you can, but I don’t want to create with a negative intention.
Bruno: How long did it take and how did you get the tone that you… Ummm… That distinctive Albert Hammond junior tone?
AHJ: I think it’s a mixture of tone and also the playing… I don’t know that’s what you… I mean, put it this way: I mean, why not try to find you own? It’s the only thing you got going…. For you is to do that so you just do everything you can to do it. I don’t know, honestly, I don’t. I don’t know why or how… I’m happy it exists and people know… “oh that’s sounds like Albert!” Or like it sound something like a riff I would write. But I don’t know, I mean I work at it, I work out really really hard.
Bruno: it paid off!
AHJ: haha yeah.. I mean it’s paid off more to myself or more than even in the sense of success or that way. I fell like that’s all just the cherry on top.
Bruno: like a sense of accomplishment?
AHJ: yeah! I mean, that’s… if you just got it without any of that… or if you didn’t keep on growing, you would just start to build insecurities. You would start to wonder why is it like that? I mean you build insecurities anyways, when you look at success, it’s just the nature of… You know, You get confused how or why something might affect someone! But then you start to believe in yourself and then you have to find a balance to get better.
PNG: We like to ask this, just cause we’re curious teenagers: What are you listening to right now? Any playlist or favorites?
AHJ: uhhh… I don’t know I… There’s so many… Nothing like… I remember the last thing I, playlist, the last thing I was listening to…
The last thing I had was:
- “New York Groove” By Ace Frehly
- “Ocean Man” by Ween
- “I’m Not The One” By The Cars
- “Neck Brace” -Ratatat
- “Shooting Holes” Twin Shadows
- “Once In A Lifetime” Talking Heads
- “I’d Rather Go Blind” Edna James
- “The KKK Took My Baby Away” The Ramones
- “And She Was” Talking Heads
- “Soft Shock” The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
- “Rhapsody in Blue” Chicago Orchestra Mozart
- “Street Hassle” Lou Reed
- “Walking With a Ghost” The White Stripes?
- “Goodbye Horses” Q Lazarus.
I don’t know this was a playlist I was listening to when I was working out this morning. Haha
PNG: That’s a pretty neat collection of songs there! One last thing: What did you think of the Grammy’s. Any snubs?
AHJ: Oh I don’t know, I didn’t watch it.
PNG: Oh well, Random Access Memories won Album of the Year and Julian was a guest singer on there too.
AHJ: Oh yeah I heard that. That was obviously very cool… It was very, very cool that he won.
PNG: Well, that’s all that we have thanks for your time! Good luck on the rest of your tour!
AHJ: Thanks guys! Good Luck with the site!
For more on Albert Hammond Jr., visit his website.
WATCH ALBERT HAMMOND JR. LIVE WITH THE STROKES:(HE HAS AN AFRO AND GUITAR)
WATCH ALBERT HAMMOND JR. PLAY “ST. JUSTICE” OFF OF HIS LATEST EP AHJ: