Slope Speaks with: Albert Hammond, Jr. from The StrokesApril 29, 2011 —
I recently got the opportunity to be a part of a press teleconference with some of the artists performing at the festival: Albert Hammond, Jr. from The Strokes, comedian Eugene Mirman and Gregg Gillis aka Girl Talk. Here are some of my favorite moments from the conversation.
First, Albert Hammond, Jr of the Strokes.
Gary Graff (Billboard): Bonnaroo is one of many you know kind of big shows the Strokes are doing this year. How does it feel in having the band back together being up and running as you are…?
Albert Hammond, Jr.: Well yes, I mean being on stage with everyone is a feeling I can’t really explain. It’s something else you know it’s something very, very amazing and the best way to put it is I just, I feel blessed to be able to even experience it. You know in such big crowds and great fans and with the guys.
Gary Graff: …what is going on with the fifth album. I think that came as a surprise when some of the other guys started talking about it the last week or so…bring us up to date on what’s going on with that.
Albert Hammond, Jr.: Well we are – we’re working on it now. You know I think the way we’ve been able to do some of this touring this year with bigger than we’ve usually had we’ve been able to organize some writing sessions so just kind of getting in and exploring stuff we didn’t finish last time, new songs you know all kinds of stuff.
Gary Graff: All right Albert what do you – how do you feel about the Strokes helping Bonnaroo celebrate their tenth anniversary?
Albert Hammond, Jr.: …yes, it’s amazing to be part of something that big, that’s bigger than yourself you know be a part of you know with all those other bands is, feels special you know it’s as you can imagine it would be you know anything like that you know we all feel it.
Kevin Yeanoplos (Examiner.com): …I’d, I would just like to know does your approach in rehearsing, getting ready for the show different for a festival than it would for some other type of venue?
Albert Hammond, Jr.: No but the set list does. You know it, set list kind of depends – well I guess festival you know your own show, what kind of audience you think you’re going to have you would prepare for that. You know I mean we wouldn’t rehearse differently.
Kevin Yeanoplos: Sure.
Albert Hammond, Jr.: But definitely certain songs maybe that you you know as you get into your own crowd you could, you tend to push the crowd a little more with more obscure stuff and they kind of want that sometimes you know.
Kevin Yeanoplos: Absolutely.
Albert Hammond, Jr.: And then as we get into bigger festivals and you know your set list gets a little shorter, which is nice, but you know you kind of just want to pack it in with just like a bang. (As opposed to) maybe you throw in one you know off the beaten track song.
Evan Schlansky (American Songwriter): …what’s it been like playing the songs from Angles Live, what kind of response have you got? Are there any that you enjoy playing or are particularly hard to play?
Albert Hammond, Jr.: Yes, it’s always fun playing new songs – starting playing new songs live when you haven’t played them yet because it – I think it’s what keeps strangely enough even though they’re the most stressful is what keeps a band together because when you’re playing them live you start to notice on how much you – you’re leaning on everyone and how much people are leaning on you know?
And you start to feel like this trust, this invisible trust and yes they’ve been going over better and better I think as the people start to know the record. You know obviously the beauty of time is that you know they just, old songs just grow and grow and grow.
But you know there’s definitely an excitement when we play a single it’s – it feels like we’re playing last night. You know what I mean? It’s pretty crazy. But yes, I mean Games, Life is Simple, Gratisfaction, they’ve all been – they’re all like my favorites to play live.
Evan Schlansky: And are there any that are particularly challenging to pull off?
Albert Hammond, Jr.: Yes I mean they’re all, they’re all challenging. Somehow we’ve managed to make each record harder than the previous one. So yes I mean I imagine different parts for different people you know is song, like the song You’re so Right, pretty easy for me but then there’s other songs Gratisfaction where I play these cords and sing is much harder or Life is Simple. You know but I mean they’re hard or easier, it’s just all I mean you know 6 months from now it’ll you know it’ll – it won’t be like that, the newer ones will be even harder and I’ll be thankful of these. And you’re done.
Lane Billings (Emory Wheel): But I guess – I guess on a sillier note, your Wikipedia article says that you have an affinity for three-piece suits and I was wondering if you guys were planning on bringing those out in the Tennessee heat in the middle of the summer?
Albert Hammond, Jr.: I thought you were going to say do you have an affinity for masturbation I was going to be like God Wikipedia man.
Lane Billings: Dammit. Foiled again.
Albert Hammond, Jr.: I think I was just – it was – it’s so weird where they get their information. I somehow even though I never wore three-piece suits really you know I wore two-piece and then I wore vests and T-shirts somehow got reputation for wearing suits. I then made a suit line and so maybe that’s where they get it.
But no the band has never fully all rocked suits. We never will and I think for the time being we are feeling better more casual you know?
Lane Billings: Yes, that’s…
Albert Hammond, Jr.: I’ve worn a suit in extreme heat and have melted to the ground; I had not taken off my jacket. I don’t know if I want to do that again.
Sushmita Gordhandas: I was just wondering you guys headlined a bunch of festivals last summer and you’re headlining even more this summer. So how does it feel to be the big act?
Albert Hammond, Jr.: Well yes, it feels – it feels great. You know never I think there’s always a pause where you don’t know what’s going to happen and how you’re going to proceed but yes from last year to this year it’s only gotten better. You know this last – we were just at Coachella and it was yes it was – it was insane. I can’t – I would say I’m going to get used to playing in front of that many people but just the adrenaline that hits you when you walk off, when you walk on stage just you think one day you’re going to be able to control it. But it’s just – it always controls you somehow and you just you know it’s an amazing rush.
It’s probably why I ride a motorcycle without a helmet, I jump out of planes and I’ve done a lot of drugs.
Albert Hammond, Jr.: I’m excited to be there.
Ken Weinstein (moderator): Closing the festival.
Albert Hammond, Jr.: The last day?
Ken Weinstein:Yes, against Widespread, right?
Albert Hammond, Jr.: Well it’s not against.
Ken Weinstein: Well not against up against or during or just before.
Albert Hammond, Jr.: I mean like they should do that though, they should just have total duals like where band duel each other like fist fight and then whoever wins gets to play.
Ken Weinstein: Right, exactly that’s a good idea… Death match Bonnaroo.
Albert Hammond, Jr.: We don’t have to kill each other you know it’s just that when someone say, all right, give up you know.
Ken Weinstein: I like it.
Albert Hammond, Jr.: …good idea man you know.
Ken Weinstein: Good, I just wrote that, I wrote that down.
Albert Hammond, Jr.: All right cool man; I’ll talk to you later.