Albert Hammond, Jr. talks rude celebrities, toilets and the best British accents
The Strokes guitarist is still a legend
Albert Hammond Jr is, objectively, one of the coolest people on the planet.
As well as, y’know, a long and rather successful career as guitarist with a little known beat combo called The Strokes, he’s now onto his fourth acclaimed solo album, Francis Trouble, while he’s just finished a run of live dates in the UK. We caught up with him while he was on the road to talk about, well, a little of everything…
Albert, how’s it going?
I’m good thanks, happy to be in London. I love touring the UK because of the short distances and the incredible change between each place. Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester are so close, but they all have their own feel and crowds.
Is there any particular accent you struggle to understand?
The hardest is Newcastle, but I’ve got pretty good because I’ve seen a lot of TV shows. Peter Sellers did this thing where he went from the South to the North of the UK changing his accent. It was amazing.
Before we sat down you mentioned something about the bathroom here. Care to elaborate?
Well, you have no control over the weather in the UK, but I’m just confused as to why the bathrooms are always so cold. I remember when I first came over here it was winter and they had the bathroom window open – it may as well have been outside. It’s weird that the most private place should be so uncomfortable.
Fair point. Peter Sellers aside, which comedians do you like?
This new Dave Chappelle Netflix special might be one of the best specials I’ve ever seen. And I got into it late, but I love The IT Crowd. I was texting Richard Ayoade to see if he would come to the London show. Friends in high places. [Laughs] I was on a plane with Chris O’Dowd once. I don’t travel first class all the time, but it was a situation where we were in the same cabin. It was a nighttime flight and I wanted to say hello, but sometimes it’s gotten awkward, so I didn’t. Sometimes it’s just fun to see people.
Read more: Albert Hammond Jr’s Ultimate Playlist
When has it gotten awkward?
The weirdest one was Edward Norton. We had the same masseuse – which is ridiculous – and both love scuba diving. I met him and his wife at a bar and we were talking about scuba diving and how we’d go together. Then I saw him at a screening of my friend Joaquin Phoenix’s film and I went over to say hello. Norton said something like, “Watch out, here’s this crazy weirdo” to Joaquin and I was like “What are you talking about? I know him, he invited me.” He just pretended to be on his phone. I hate that shit.
You’re here to promote your new album, Francis Trouble. What’s it about?
I had a twin brother who was stillborn at five months. The album is about that relationship. Weirdly, making it was really positive. I’d done all this shadow-work and the idea was to put a picture to your shadow; mine was a child that wasn’t heard or listened to.
You’re playing smaller venues this time. Do you miss big shows?
Headlining festivals is like milk chocolate when you want dark. The set dynamic isn’t the same. Doing your own shows is more fun. I always get asked if I like doing smaller shows. No! I want to play arenas.
What’s the most annoying thing people ask you about The Strokes?
My normal answer to The Strokes questions is that it’s not a part of my culture. But as this is a question about questions, I can answer. I feel that people don’t understand how great it is to share information as a group. When I’m asked about The Strokes, it’s not that I don’t want to talk about it, it’s just that I’d rather speak about it when we’re together as a group.
What do you do when you’re not touring?
Riding MotoGP is my favourite hobby. I ride around at home in upstate New York. I wish I could just follow MotoGP for an entire year.
That’s a very badass hobby.
Well I’m also a huge TV guy. I love Better Call Saul and Mr Robot. I resisted watching Game of Thrones for ages, but then I was out with neck surgery and watched it in a week. I fell in love with it. I want to be a White Walker. Ed Sheeran’s been in it, but then again, he’s had like 10 number one hits. So we’ll see.
Francis Trouble is released on 9 March
(Images: Rex/Channel 4)