Albert Hammond, Jr. just played the biggest headlining show of his life.
Sure he’d played to massive crowds across the world as a guitarist with the Strokes, but this gig was special. Hammond devotes the majority of his time these days to his solo work, and he’d just packed the 1,800-capacity theater Brooklyn Steel (March 28) off the strength of his new LP Francis Trouble. No Strokes songs were played that evening.
“There were so many emotions happening all at once,” he recalls the next day at the Billboard office. “It wasn’t until this morning it sunk in a little more.”
Hammond is truly a New York City rock icon, and it was fascinating to spend a half hour looking back on his career — who he was when the Strokes broke big in 2002, who he was when he released his first solo album four years later, and who he is today: playing the occasional festival main stage with the Strokes, but focused on breaking new ground with his own solo music, and all the uncertainty that comes with it.
“Comfort and familiarity are terrible spaces to live in,” he says. “To create, you have to be able to poke fun at yourself, allow yourself to do something that’s dumb, bad, or cheesy… I had to make many mistakes and be not who I wanted to be in all my solo records up ’til here. I had gaps I knew I was missing, but had to accept to move forward.”
Francis Trouble (released last month on Red Bull Music) is an excellent record, packed with clever grooves and choruses that linger. We talked about all that, in addition to his inclusion in last year’s sometimes-scandalous NYC rock history opus Meet Me in the Bathroom (“I don’t wanna make noise on this podcast!”), growing up with a rock star dad, and plenty of advice for solo creatives.
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