Albert Hammond Jr. Takes His “Short Record” Live
Although he might be better known as guitarist for The Strokes, Albert Hammond Jr. has carved his own niche for himself as a solo recording artist. Hammond Jr. released a new EPthis past fall.His familiar guitar parts appear on AHJ but with a slightly grittier edge, maybe personified by the angry dog on the cover of the album.
Hammond Jr. will open a new tour this evening at Terminal 5 in New York City, supporting Jake Bugg. On the morning before the show he took some time to discuss his new release, the pressures of recording as a solo artist and the thought that maybe EPs should just be called short albums.
You recently released your new EP AHJ. How has the response to the EP been from your fans when you’ve been playing the songs live?
It’s been amazing actually. Right away the video for “Carnal Cruise,” and the first single got the most attention. To be honest, some places will know the beginning of “Carnal Cruise” and get excited for “Rude Customer.” But the places that don’t they are kind of silent, but at the end they’ll cheer quite loud, as loud as songs as they know. It’s always exciting to hear that at the end of “Carnal Cruise.” Some of the people might not have even seen me play or don’t own the EP. To be moved by a song and get excited is pretty cool.
What lessons have you learned as a solo recording artist as opposed to a group setting?
It’s a lot more work when you’re doing it yourself. It can be fun and annoying at the same time. With writing the music and promoting the music. It is what it is. I imagine being an athlete and playing on a team and then doing “solo sledding.” It was the most fun thing I had to do. There are a lot a things I like about it.
I still have somewhat of a partner in Gus Olberg who I can bounce ideas off of. I always like speaking about art with other people I respect and trying to get different feedback on stuff that I’m doing or things that they like. That’s always fun for me.
To what extent are your LP and EP different musically?
A record is really something that captures a moment. In general it’s going to be different. I remember when I was doing the Yours To Keep LP I just wanted to leave my apartment with my demos and do something that was finished. It was much easier to say, “I’m still working,” than “Here’s the finished project.” I think we created a little world that was my living room put into a record, writing songs with this guy I met. We made a really drug-induced record. It has a childlike wonder to it.
Whereas with the other one (Como Te Llama) I was really bummed about always being on an acoustic guitar. I fucking hate acoustic guitar. I was always referring to that. I made it very droney.
This one was just at a different time. It felt pretty natural all the stuff I was doing. I felt kind of going back when I was younger and first got into music.
Is the EP model something you’ll follow in the future? Do you think the concept of the album has become less important due to the ease of distributing music?
I don’t know. I’ve thought about this a bunch. I don’t know the answer. A long time ago a friend of mine started a label and said, “I’m just going to record singles from bands and put that online.” I was like, “Huh, you don’t need a storefront, just to record everyone there.” But then I realized an EP is so much quicker, I was like, “Hmm, I could do another EP.” And then in less than a year I was releasing pretty much an album.
The other part of the game hasn’t changed that much yet. I’ve missed out on shows and _attention_ because it’s only an EP. Maybe because people are used to EP’s being a thrown together thing, you release after a record with a few B-sides with a few live tracks. Obviously this is not that. It’s basically a record, a short record.
Instead of calling it an EP I should have called it my “short record.” I think with EP’s people have the opinion that it’s B-side with a bunch of demo stuff.
Is there more pressure to perform as a solo artist rather than in a group?
I imagine there is a little more pressure because it’s my name. No matter what I would do, if I called it a band name, the focus would still be on me because I’m coming from a band that’s successful and people are going to know that.
There is always pressure with performing. That’s fun of it. Doing anything in life is fun because of the pressure to succeed in it. It makes you practice and focused at the time of doing it. What makes it feel more or less is you got so used to having a backbone of people you know and you’re doing it again without that. Maybe those people change, since you’re not in a band with them anymore. Matt has been playing the drums this whole and time and now he’s into something else. Unfortunately he can’t, although he might really want to. I got a new drummer, so that stuff changes the dynamic of how you play. It’s a good experience because when you’re back in a band you appreciate other stuff.
What’s next after this tour? Some more short albums?
I haven’t been home that long, but I recorded a song or two just demo wise. I think February is pretty clear, so I think I’ll spend February recording some more songs. Try to record another EP.
What fans can expect from the show at Terminal 5?
I’m going to retweak the set into a pretty neat 45 minute set. I think they can expect some pretty great rock and roll.