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Albert Louis Hammond, Jr. (born April 9, 1980) is an American musician and fashion designer. He plays guitar and keyboards for the indie rock band The Strokes. He is the son of singer-songwriter Albert Hammond (best known for his 1972 hit single "It Never Rains in Southern California"). Hammond, Jr. released his debut album Yours To Keep in 2006 and followed up with ¿Cómo Te Llama? in 2008 and his EP, AHJ in 2013. His third solo album, Momentary Masters, was released through Vagrant Records on July 31, 2015. The Beach Boys, Buddy Holly, Frank Black, Guided By Voices, John Lennon, Matthew Sweet and The Velvet Underground are often cited as his major influences.
Life and career
Hammond was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of British-Gibraltarian singer/songwriter/musician Albert Hammond and Argentine former model and beauty pageant winner Claudia Fernández. Hammond, Jr. was sent to the elite boarding school Institut Le Rosey in Switzerland at the age of 13. While there, he met Julian Casablancas, who would go on to be a fellow band member.
In 1998, Hammond met up with Casablancas in New York City and joined The Strokes as the last member with Casablancas' former schoolmates Nikolai Fraiture, Nick Valensi, and Fabrizio Moretti.
His trademark is wearing formal three-piece suits, and has been said by bandmate Julian Casablancas to be the most influential on the band's style. Hammond is usually seen playing a 1985 '70s reissue Olympic White Fender Stratocaster or Gibson Les Paul Jr. that is sometimes used by bandmate Nick Valensi. On the majority of The Strokes' songs he plays rhythm guitar, and solos are played by Valensi. The songs in which Hammond does play solos are "Last Nite", "Trying Your Luck", "Take It or Leave It", "Under Control", "The End Has No End", "Ize of the World", and "Vision of Division". His solos tend to focus largely on more emotional, "bluesy"-type melodical work, and the guitar tends to have a cleaner, softer tone in comparison to Valensi's (with a notable exception found in "Vision of Division"). He often holds his guitar in a high horizontal position, similar to Buddy Holly, which he says is so that he can dance better.
Hammond was set to release his own line of men's suits which he will co-design along with stylist Ilaria Urbinati. The suits were at first only be available at the soon-to-open Confederacy store in Los Angeles which Urbinati co-owns with actor/DJ Danny Masterson. Speaking about the designing endeavor Hammond, Jr. told New York magazine, "I want to make suits that I'm going to have for myself. They're for the person who needs his one suit for a wedding. He'd rather get something like this than go to Men's Wearhouse, pay the same amount, and look like an out-of-date parent." Prices for his line start at $1,250 for the Urbinati-designed trench coat and the $2,000+ price range for his suits. Hammond told NME that the suits will be available in three styles with a new design every season and that he's aiming to keep the line classic.
He previously dated British supermodel Agyness Deyn as well as Catherine Pierce, of the band, The Pierces. On December 23, 2013, Hammond married Polish restauranteur Justyna Sroka.
Albert's main guitar is a Fender Stratocaster Arctic White 1985 Reissue of a 1972. He owns three white Stratocasters, a Gibson Les Paul special single cutaway, a Rickenbacker 325, and a Gretsch hollowbody. His amplifier is a Fender Hot Rod DeVille 2x12. His pedal board is made up of an old version of the MXR Micro Amp, a V1 Jekyll and Hyde Ultimate Overdrive and Distortion, and a BOSS TU-2 tuner. In later shows he adds another Micro Amp, and Jekyll and Hyde, and a Boss Digital Delay. He now uses a Mad Professor Deep Blue Delay pedal instead of the Boss Digital Delay.
Songwriting and solo work
Though vocalist Julian Casablancas is the primary songwriter in The Strokes, Hammond co-wrote the track "Automatic Stop" with Casablancas for the group's second album, Room on Fire. He has also been credited with writing three mostly instrumental songs ("Swiss Beats", "Holland", and "By The Way") for the band's 2001 tour video entitled In Transit. These songs were reworked for his later solo album and have different titles ("Everyone Gets A Star", "Bright Young Thing", "In Transit"). He wrote "Elephant Song" when he was required to record a song for his Sound 101 class during his freshman year and used the school's recording equipment. The song was played at a few shows before the release of The Strokes' album. They later re-recorded the song as a special giveaway for fan club members.
In October 2005, Hammond and Ben Kweller released a version of "Wait" on This Bird Has Flown – A 40th Anniversary Tribute to the Beatles' Rubber Soul.
Yours To Keep (2006–2007)
Hammond released a solo album entitled Yours To Keep in the U.K. through Rough Trade Records on October 9, 2006 and in North America through New Line Records/Scratchie Records on March 6, 2007. Produced by Thin Lizard Dawn vocalist Lattimer and recorded at the Electric Lady Studios in New York City, the album features several musical guests, such as Sean Lennon, Ben Kweller, The Strokes' manager Ryan Gentles, Jody Porter of Fountains of Wayne, Chris Feinstein, Mikki James, Sammy James, Jr. (The Mooney Suzuki) and The Strokes' lead singer, Casablancas. Bassist Josh Lattanzi and drummer Matt Romano serve as the backing band, with Hammond on guitar and vocals. The first single taken from the album, "101", was released exclusively through iTunes on September 4, 2006. The music video to "In Transit" was directed by Joaquin Phoenix.
Hammond has said to have been "waiting to make a record like this for years". Early support from his bandmates in the Strokes was only evident after Casablancas' role playing bass and back-up vocals on the track "Scared", though all of the members (with the exclusion of Nick Valensi, who was busy taking care of his newborn children) attended his shows in and around New York.
"101" was the follow-up single to "Everyone Gets A Star". The music video debuted online in March 2007. It was going to be available in general music stores, unlike "Everyone Gets A Star" which was only available through UK iTunes Music Store. It was released on November 27, 2006.
In November 2006, Hammond was announced to be joining Incubus on tour during their North American tour for their new album Light Grenades.
On 16 March 2007 at the South by Southwest festival, Hammond performed a twelve song set including covers of Frank Black's "Old Black Dawning" and Guided By Voices' "Postal Blowfish". Hammond also regularly covered The Cars' "Don't Cha Stop" in live performances.
The Yours To Keep album was released in North America on March 6, 2007; he also supported Bloc Party on their world tour before making stops at Montreal's Metropolis and Toronto's Kool Haus. After this, Hammond headlined two North American tours along with a European tour. The North American tour featured his friends, The Mooney Suzuki.
Hammond announced that "In Transit" would be his next solo single, featuring a cover of Frank Black's "Old Black Dawning" as the b-side. It was recorded live from the Bowery Ballroom.
¿Cómo Te Llama? (2007–2013)
On 29 August 2007, Hammond announced on MySpace that he was going back into the studio to record his second album in October 2007 for five weeks.
On 20 March 2008, Hammond posted a blog entry on MySpace in which he revealed the title of his second album, ¿Cómo Te Llama?. Furthermore, he wrote that it contained 13 songs with a total length of 46 minutes and 30 seconds. He also said he hoped to be touring with the new album until the end of 2008. The album was released on July 7, 2008.
Albert has also produced the new track "123 Stop" by New York band The Postelles.
On 27 May 2008, Hammond released "GfC", the first single off ¿Cómo Te Llama?, on iTunes in the US. The song has already been played extensively live on his 2007 tour. A non-album song entitled "& So it Goes" was released as a B-side along with the single.
On 29 May 2008, Hammond was Myspace's featured artist and exclusively premiered his new album ¿Cómo Te Llama? uploading all the tracks of the album on his official Myspace page.
On 8 July 2008, Hammond played a small show at the Virgin Megastore, Union Square, in New York City to celebrate the release of his new album. A noted absence from Hammond's band was recording bassist Josh Latzanni. Steve Schiltz of the band Longwave, who toured with Hammond on his first album was also missing. Although Hammond was supposed to play only 2 or 3 songs, he ended up playing almost 10, with a selection that included both new and old tracks.
On 11 July 2008, Hammond began his worldwide tour in support of ¿Cómo Te Llama? with a sold-out show at the landmark venue Spaceland in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA with a capacity of only 260 people. This was his only West Coast appearance.
On 23 August 2008, Hammond's website officially announced that Hammond would be the support act of the British band Coldplay during their European Tour, which kicked off on September 1 in Strasbourg, France.
AHJ EP (2013–2014)
In an interview with Har Mar Superstar in July 2013, Hammond revealed that he had recorded a five-song EP on Julian Casablancas' Record Label, Cult Records. Titled AHJ, it was released on October 8, 2013.
Hammond Jr said in an interview about his new EP on December 5, 2013, that he would be interested in playing solo as an opening act, if The Strokes announced another tour: "I would definitely ask the guys if I could open for them, that'd be amazing."
Momentary Masters (2014–present)
On June 22, 2014, a photo was posted to Hammond's official Facebook page of himself in a room with other musicians and the caption, "the start of something new; LP 3," suggesting that he is working on a third full-length album.
On May 12, 2015, Hammond, Jr. announced via his social media networks that his third LP, Momentary Masters, would be available on July 31, 2015, in the US, via Vagrant Records. The first single, "Born Slippy", was also made instantly available for streaming and download via YouTube and iTunes respectively.
Hammond Jr. is very clear on keeping his solo work distinctly separate from his contributions to The Strokes. When asked at a September 2015 concert to play a song by The Strokes from a member of the audience, he replied "No, no, no! I shan't dabble in that tonight!"
Albert Hammond, Jr.