Talkin' Shop With Albert Hammond Jr.

 
The only reason I called it my name is because we couldn't think of a better name. I don't personally like to just sit there and do whatever I want to do. I feel I have ideas, and I feel like I have things I want to accomplish. I try to surround myself with people that I trust and respect their opinions, and then you send out your ideas and see how they come back.
-Albert Hammond Jr. on his solo band
 
Photo by Lane Coder:(L-R) Matt Romano, Albert Hammond, Jr. & Josh Lattanzi

Can you describe what was going on creatively and personally for you during the recording of Yours To Keep?

I started recording it while we were recording First Impressions, when Julian went on his honeymoon and I had a few days. I just went in and did a song. The album is actually in the order that it was recorded. I had a couple songs that were lullabies. They were very simple and I thought if I could just get this to sound good, by leaving my house and leaving my demo sound behind, that I could record other songs. I hoped it would lead to writing better songs, like a second record of better songs. I just started having fun slowly because it was exciting and fun being around the people I was working with because they were always so excited. So every three or four months when I had a break I would go and work on songs.

When you are sitting down and writing with The Strokes how does that process differ from this process?

I don't know I checked out of that process years ago. I wouldn't know.

Do you think it is harder to work creatively within the confines of a band rather than in a solo project?


Albert Hammond Jr. at Electric Lady Studios
with Gus Oberg & Greg Lattimer
I think I am in a band. The only reason I called it my name is because we couldn't think of a better name. I don't personally like to just sit there and do whatever I want to do. I feel I have ideas, and I feel like I have things I want to accomplish. I try to surround myself with people that I trust and respect their opinions, and then you send out your ideas and see how they come back. A lot of times people can make your ideas better by little simple things. I have the fun part of working with other people. If I wanted to do it alone I would just sit in the room and do it all myself.

How was Greg Lattimer as a producer?

He was fantastic. The hardest thing I feel like there is to do, especially for me, is to get a warm or inviting or unique vocal sound. I feel like we were learning as we were going on. We ultimately did that very well. I think Greg helped me get out of my shell in terms of my vocals. He helped me make a record, where I thought I was just doing songs.

When you are up on stage what does it feel like when music is flowing through you?

It is funny. It feels like two things. When you are really into the song it is just like a roller coaster with just pure adrenaline pouring through your body [so] your heart is pounding so fast that you can't think of anything. Or, you are thinking of the most random thought because you are so into it that it is just like thinking about something that has happened or something that you want to do.

Can I ask you how "In Transit" came about?


(L-R) Josh Lattanzi, Matt Romano, Hammond, Jr.
By Lane Coder
Well, that one and "Cartoon Music" were the beginning of everything. I wanted to write a song where the verse had guitars that were not playing any chords and the bass was just holding down the root. So, I came up with the part and recorded it. I don't know if you notice this but when it starts it goes D – A – G, and then when I start singing it goes D to G. So, I have this thing where I like doing stuff like that because you don't really notice it but motion-wise it feels faster. Then I can slow it down when a melody comes in, so it doesn't get boring, or solo over it, whatever you want to do. Everyday I would be singing things and then one day I sat down late at night and sang the vocal. In the morning I woke up and pushed play and there it was. It was pretty good [laughs]. I was happy I found a chorus. Do you know the song, "Some Guys Have All the Luck" by Rod Stewart?

Yes [laughs].

I was just trying to create a chorus like that.

What about "Blue Skies?"

That song happened really fast. I wrote it as a joke to my girlfriend at the time, and then I was thinking of Madonna's "Like a Virgin" for the chorus, started singing and it just kind of all came. I was like, "Oh man, I think I kind of like this." I thought it would be kind of interesting with the rhythm and the simplicity of it. I was thinking about what it would be like if you were looking up from a grave or something like that. I recorded it with strings behind it doing these different harmonies, and then I had to go upstate to do The Strokes stuff and I left it with Greg. He called me and said that he was doing this bell thing - the same notes we were doing with the strings just with bells. Then I sang him a solo part over the phone. I sang him both melodies going over each other and I wanted to make it sound really weird with the arrangements of instruments. He just took the melody I sang him and did a little thing to it. We were going to add a bunch of more stuff but when we were mixing I was sitting at the drums and got this idea to just add drums because there is the this Elliott Smith song where the drums come in just at the last five seconds of that song. I laid down the beat that I always play real fast. A lot of it is really cool because we add a Rhodes, a tambourine and the other guitar is playing little licks. But, on the record it seemed fine to just keep it the way it is and not add anything.

Continue reading for page III of our talk with Albert Hammond Jr...


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