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Albert Hammond Jr - What's In A Name-

Author: Steve Tauschke
Monday, 18 August 2008

Sickness cancelled Albert Hammond, Jr.’s tour two weeks ago, but all is not lost – The Strokes guitarist has just released his second solo record. He talks to 3D’s Steve Tauschke about dogs, producing and the future of his main band.

It’s hard not to picture it.

Somewhere, in a loft in New York City, lives Albert Hammond, Jr., erstwhile guitarist for The Strokes and now proud papa to two solo albums. In said loft he reclines, on a couch, eating – you would presume – grapes fed to him by eager, nubile, indie princesses, desperate to please their prince of bouffant hair and brilliant guitar lines.

At least, such is the way he sounds when he speaks, all drawn-out drawl and sleepy-sounding voice. Then, mid-way through the conversation, the whole image is spoiled by the rising irritation in his voice.

“Lola! Stop it!” Albert cries.

What, an over-eager admirer- Alas, no, it is but his pooch. And, for the first time in this leisurely conversation, Albert sounds alive.

“My dog is chewing on something; something tasty for her,” he says. “It could be anything; tasty for her is wood!”

His dogs continue to drop toys on him – Strokes fanatics feeding him grapes they are not. “That’s as grape-like as it gets in this household,” he deadpans. “She just keeps on putting her toy right on top of the phone.

“Do you know what the cool thing is about dogs-” Albert asks, warming to the conversation. “They don’t feel guilt. When they do something wrong they don’t feel guilty about it – they just know that they’ve upset you. It’s an amazing thing.”

You don’t think a dog feels guilty when it pees on the carpet and you tell it off-

“No. I think it feels like it knows it’s done something wrong, but it doesn’t feel guilty for it,” Albert says. “When they train dogs they teach you that they’re not like humans and to not assume that they’re going to learn through guilt – they’re only going to learn through repetitive action.”

When it came to recording his second album, ¿Cómo Te Llama-, Albert was decidedly more human than canine – he mixed things up by recording in two parts – firstly in a studio and then at his home-based studio.

“I recorded for five weeks at Electric Lady Studios,” he says of the new album. “Because I produced it you get a little too close, and when you mix it you try to have some perspective on it. We tried to mix in December [of 2007] and did an alright job. But I got too close, and I took January and February to re-see it and do overdubs and remixing at my house.”

The different experience of doing something in a big studio such as Electric Lady and a home studio is remarkable, each with their own unique advantages. “There’s something really nice about being at home in your own studio,” he yawns. “It’s really comforting.”

Yet, of course, there’s also certain limitations to it.

“I have the equipment to record a band and record drums in my living room,” he states, “but if I did that then my neighbours would kill me. I haven’t done it yet, but I imagine there’s a certain aspect of being in the pre-production demos in your own studio where you’re not worried about time, and so it feels like you can find different stuff. It seems like it would be more interesting.”

On tour with his band until 2009, where does that leave the Strokes-

“When you’re done you regroup your life then you go on vacation,” he surmises. “That

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