Albert Hammond Jr. is one of the guys who sits at the upper echolons of the cool kids’ table. From dating super models, now being married to a girl who looks like one, and being in THE iconic rock band (The Strokes anyone?), he has done a lot. All while looking like a 70s hearthrob. This might be eye roll inducing but his music will soften your jealous heart. Full of melodic riffs, toe tapping beats and songs reminiscent of record players and pull our posters, he has made us a fan. We talked to him about his new album, being a rock star and what he’s into. Albert is on tour and Momentary Masters is out now!
What was your favorite part about recording your latest album?
I guess having the band we toured the EP with last year, having them be a part of the process was amazing since the EP I recorded myself all the parts, and I was able to branch things out to other players. They were able to come with their ideas towards songs, so that definitely helped.
You sing, play keyboards, play guitar, what other musical talents do you have?
I can, for demos play base and drums. I can figure out parts. I don’t know if I would play them live, I wouldn’t say I was a good musician in that respect. I can get by with a guitar.
How does it feel to be considered a solo artist now? How does that change your whole music perspective?
I guess that’s what this record’s about, to see if I can be a solo artist, to see if I can stand on my own two feet.
How does this album differ from your other solo albums in the past?
Albums always capture different moments you’re in. As a solo artist, whoever I play with can change parts of how I sound. I mean, not everything. I feel that’s the
biggest difference, I have a band so I have that sound. I feel like I found more of a voice.
And how does this band differ from The Strokes?
With The Strokes we came together before anything and dedicated ourselves to each other, it’s a different vibe. You can’t really compare 15 years of friendship and working
together to finding people to play music with.
Was that your first band?
I always dabbled playing music with other people growing up, but that was my first like real band. Kind of lucked out on that one. [Laughs]
Your new album has a very polished feel to it.
I let Gus Oberg, who co-produces my stuff, push me in different places depending on how he’s feeling. I think together without knowing it, we were just trying to do a record to be entertaining, to be heard by people. Ben Baptie mixed it and helped put everything together. There are so many steps, so it’s hard to define in a sentence why it feels like that. Maybe all the players, plus him, plus where I was. I definitely felt it when I was singing. I worked hard on the melody and the lyrics so they could stand up into the recordings. Sometimes I would sing stuff that was okay, some really sucked [laughs]. But the recordings were alway really good. It was fun, it was
What do you enjoy the most about performing live?
Well definitely having a new album, I’m excited to push it. Also having a back catalog of songs people know and like, I get to enjoy both. I’m trying to convert people. Half the audience is there because they want to be there. Some people are there just seeing if they’ll even like you. It’s connecting people, its right in the moment, you’re playing music live. It’s pretty intense.
Have you ever had an emotional breakdown
while playing live? Like freaked out because you were really happy or really sad?
Yeah, I got choked up once when I was playing. My mom had came to the show. I told her that I was going to sing this one song and dedicate it to all the encouragement she gave me over the years, and I didn’t realized how much it would choke me up. Before I sang, I had to wait like one second more before I turned around, because I had a thing in my throat. Yeah, I wasn’t expecting that.
Do you ever write music with your dad?
I don’t. At an early age he definitely helped give me a good sense of work ethic. I think he almost gave me a sense of fear about it as well to make sure I wanted to do it because I loved it and not because I was trying to be famous or something. So that was good. It definitely kept pushing me; I think it still does. He’s starting to play a lot of shows now. He plays like 80 shows a year, he’s getting bigger and bigger.
Do you think you’ll ever record something with him?
I did a little thing with him. I don’t know, its like one of those things where I just like having my dad and not sharing that part of my life. I imagine he would like to, but I just… Maybe now is a better time I could do that. When I was younger, my insecurities were too hard to deal with and then also work with a parent. [Laughs]
What got you into music? When did you first realize you wanted to play?
I fell in love will Buddy Holly. I also saw some musical where they tell a story and sing songs on stage, its not like they’re singing the story like Jersey Boys – I don’t know I can’t explain it, but it was good. I was so young, and it was so long ago. But really I just fell in love with the idea that someone, this guy Buddy Holly wrote songs and sang them, and that was what he did. He seemed so fun as a character. I was like, ‘I want to be that character.’
What is your creative process now? Where do you find yourself writing the most music and lyrics or thinking of melodies?
It’s just little baby steps. A little bit every day, and you go from extreme nothings or everything’s terrible to things are really good, and you know exactly what you want to do then back to I don’t know what I’m doing. I think it’s just that conversation you have in your head constantly. I don’t know when things just come out, I don’t know how that comes out. They just do. Hopefully I can record them so I can always go back. [Laughs]
Do you ever feel vulnerable baring your all for people?
Sure. I woke this morning feeling like I spoke all day.
Usually that happens after I’m talking about myself all day.Then I’m just like, ‘Oh did I leave anything?’, or sometimes I want to change your mind; nothing is set in stone. I don’t know, I’m just figuring things out. It can also happen when I record. I love a record then I’m like, ‘I don’t want to release it!’ That’s just life I guess. Whatever happens, whatever I get from it, from the process of writing and touring and playing live, is worth whatever feelings of being vulnerable.
What are you looking for to the most with playing Momentary Masters?
I just can’t wait to play the whole record! It feels like I can play just that record and go tour and it’ll be a fun show. I’ve been practicing it a lot, the guys in the band have been practicing, so I just can’t wait to get in a room and play it together. Then get over that hurdle of the beginning, then just being really good and sounding a little different from the record, because we’ve played it so much. That’s the exciting part.
How long did it take from writing everything to getting the done deal?
Well with the writing, I can’t really tell because it’s always happening. For the album, we started in the summer. We did a week, I had three songs roughly sketched out. It went well. We did another week in September then a week in December, then I did like 2-3 weeks in December and January, then we mixed and mastered in February. It was pretty fast considering it was only six weeks, but it was spread out because everyone does other work. I can’t get my guys whenever I want.
And lastly, tell us what a dream day would be like for you. Like you just woke up and can do anything and everything you want to do . What would you do?
I mean it depends. Sometimes I feel like I live those days, it depends how I’m feeling you know. If I have full energy, the day was nice, I’d go for a long motorcycle ride, eat some good food and watch some good TV.
story/ Koko Ntuen
photographer / Matt Licari
stylist / Liz Rundbaken
grooming / Ian Scott Dorey