Sounds like trouble: an interview with Albert Hammond Jr.

His new album, Francis Trouble, was released on March 9. Hammond will play at the Barby in Tel Aviv on July 16 for one night only.

Guitarist Hammond Jr, July 7, 2018.  (photo credit: AUTUMN DE WILDE)
Guitarist Hammond Jr, July 7, 2018.
(photo credit: AUTUMN DE WILDE)
Albert Hammond Jr.has what some might call a dream career in music: lead guitarist in the hugely successful American rock band, The Strokes, Hammond also has four solo albums under his belt, where he explores other sides of himself. His new album, Francis Trouble, was released on March 9. Hammond will play at the Barby in Tel Aviv on July 16 for one night only.
How is the tour for the new album going so far?
Really good, we just played Belgium. We’ve had a long few days. We move on to Zurich, Barcelona, and then Tel Aviv.
Will this be your first time playing in Israel?
I’m very excited to be going, let alone playing – both for the first time. I won’t really have time to explore. The first time I go anywhere, the best I can hope for is to feel the energy of a group of people at the show.
Can you tell me about the title of the new album, ‘Francis Trouble’?
It’s a long and windy road to get to an end result. I wanted to make a certain kind of record with a certain kind of energy to it, so that I could be a certain kind of frontman.
I was also auditioning for movie roles and it took me out of my element. When I went back to music, I felt a little different in a good way.
I felt a little looser. I started using a tool of coming at myself from different angles, which kind of created an alter ego. The true story of my twin brother who was a stillborn gave shape to the idea. What a fascinating way for a supernatural, superhero to be born.
The hero’s journey always needs some kind of catalyst. It just kind of all came together.
The name itself comes from a production company I started called Trouble Productions.
Then I wanted it to be like a Ramones thing, where all of their last names were Ramone.
So I came up with the name Francis Trouble. The story of my twin really became the theme of the record. Finding out about him made this idea of having an alter-ego more real. What a birthplace for it.
Did that make working on this album different than your previous efforts?
Using this story as a tool made it different. Not every second of creating is an emotional ride. Sometimes it’s just working through things. That part to me was more exciting; everything came together with that story. That made it a richer experience. Not out of grief, but it got me to ponder and it was fun to imagine to put myself in the position of all these unknowns.
Do your solo albums satisfy you in a different way creatively than playing with the Strokes?
You change naturally with time, at least you hope you do. In the present moment, I give my all to the Strokes and there is a percentage of me that goes into that, and there are also five other very talented guys involved in that. But even with all that I give to the Strokes, I have all of this leftover. It would be weird for me to just have this record sitting at home and not go play it.
It wouldn’t make sense. I was never a guitar player in my head, I fell in love with singing and writing songs. I was very fortunate to join a band and become this guitar play I never thought I would be. That added to my experience in music and in life.
But there is this whole other side to me, and this record is the first one that’s designed to break me out of being a “guitar player,” where you’re expected to do a certain thing or that this would be a side project for me. It’s not like that. If you see my show, you’d see that this is it’s own thing, very much.
You’d find it hard to believe that I didn’t do that from the beginning. This album was very much made of me going out and conquering another side to music; building the live show. I don’t know how to dream halfway.
I want to play arenas, I want to reach everyone.
It’s not a cute thing, playing small clubs to remind me of the good ol’ days.
I read that you launched your own line of suits, Urbinati?
Yeah I always imagined being a mogul in that way.
It seems like hip hop artists do that more, so I wanted to be the rock guy who did that. A friend of mine had a clothing store in LA called Confederacy and I was always getting attention for wearing suits, so we decided to make our own. We made some really cool suits, but we made the mistake of picking fabric that was a little too nice, so they were on the pricey side. They ended up getting used in Crazy, Stupid, Love by Ryan Gosling.
That’s my biggest claim to fame with the suit line.
But you still love suits regardless?
Yeah very much, it started when I was younger. I would go to thrift shops and buy suits. They allowed me to do more at a young age: buy smokes, get into clubs.
Even as the Strokes got bigger, I would be the only one who was let in to the casino because the rest of the guys were wearing jeans. I started wearing them because I wanted to attract people to me. I just made this gold one for the stage that I’ll wear when I’m in Tel Aviv.
Part of what’s cool about it is when I’m wearing a suit, I’m wearing the show in the morning and at night.
You’re that person all the time. It’s similar to the way your body holds clothing or the way you choose to carry yourself, and the way you practice and how you strum are all parts of your personality.
All of that mixed together can be really exciting. I remember when The Strokes first started doing interviews, the other guys were sometimes worried that people would focus on how we looked. But that was a part of a package when we were younger: the music and the look. It was that way with all bands.
Do you think it’s not that way anymore in the music business?
I think there’s a lot of sex appeal that’s been lost.
Everything feels either too aggressive or really watered out. I’m not complaining about the time I live in, but you notice what you can fill in and who you can be.
What can fans expect from your show in Tel Aviv?
If you’ve seen me before, it will be unexpected because it’s a whole new show, and if you haven’t seen me, you won’t forget me.
To order tickets for Hammond’s upcoming show, visit: AHJofficial/