Albert Hammond Jr. pursues a labor of love

Albert Hammond Jr performs a combination of "Spooky Couch" and "Side Boob" live in the studios of 89.3 The Current. (MPR/Nate Ryan)
  1. Listen Feature audio

    Nov 4, 2015 Listen to all 4 tracks:
    Albert Hammond Jr. performs in The Current studio (full session + interview)
    Albert Hammond Jr. - Spooky Couch / Side Boob (Live on 89.3 The Current)
    Albert Hammond Jr. - Razor's Edge (Live on 89.3 The Current)
    Albert Hammond Jr. - Rude Customer (Live on 89.3 The Current)

"I fell in love with the idea of writing songs and playing," Albert Hammond Jr. says, reflecting on the origins of his career. It helped that Hammond's father is an accomplished songwriter himself, but Hammond says both of his parents are very supportive. "I've been very lucky to have parents that I've always felt that I could go and jump and if I fell I could come back to them, all broken and be like, 'What happened?'" he says, "which is awesome, [and] has led me to lead a very, at times, interesting life for myself."

That interesting life has included an acclaimed career, both as a guitarist with the Strokes and as a solo artist. Touring in support of his third full-length solo album, Momentary Masters, Hammond stopped in to The Current for an in-studio session hosted by Jill Riley. He and his band play the Turf Club in St. Paul on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

In the course of his conversation with Jill, Albert Hammond Jr. shared some thoughts about his work and his career. Here are highlights from the interview:

On the title of the song, "Side Boob," played during the session:
"It was a working title, and I title all my songs in their infant stage. It probably just made me laugh or was the first thing that was on my mind at that time and it just stuck."

On the title of the album, Momentary Masters:
"A few hours before we had to decide [the album title], I was listening to this Carl Sagan 'Pale Blue Dot,' YouTube, three-minute clip that I've listened to a lot. I don't know why I didn't notice it before, but he just said it in the middle, and it was just a gut feeling — I thought it just fit with the record and with things I was thinking of. It felt like the record would age well with that title."

On the symbiosis of being both a songwriter and performer:
"I enjoy playing shows and entertaining. I enjoy the dynamic that that creates when you go back to write music. It can help dictate where you want to go, where you feel onstage — what you feel like you're missing when you're performing."

On pursuing a career as a songwriter, just like his father:
"When I remember being a kid, it was just his job, just Dad, and I didn't really think of it as anything. And then when I fell in love with it, maybe for my own sanity, I kind of separated the two. I was like, 'Look what I fell in love with, Dad,' and he was like, 'That's kind of what I did,' and I was like, 'Uhh ... not really.'

"But watching him, he's disciplined and works very hard and really loves doing what he does and has a lot of energy. I guess I kind of took that [from him], or some kind of work ethic or something.

"… He wanted to make sure that I wanted to do it because I liked it and not because I wanted to be famous."

On his mother's support of his career:
"My mom has kind of been my champion, because you're not always going to be going up, you know? You go up, a little down, up. And she's always there for both. I feel like my dad always gets [credit] because he wrote the songs, but really — like if I had a kid, too, I'd be too much into my world to be able to understand theirs — I feel like my mom was really into me and what I was doing. She really helped push me."

Listen to the complete interview by clicking on the audio player above.

Songs Performed

"Spooky Couch / Side Boob"
"Razor's Edge"
"Rude Customer"
Track 1A from Albert Hammond Jr.'s 2008 album, ¿Cómo Te Llama?, available on Black Seal Records; Track 1B and track 2 are from Hammond's 2015 album, Momentary Masters, available on Vagrant Records; Track 3 is from Hammond's 2013 EP, AHJ, released on Cult Records.

Hosted by Jill Riley
Produced by Derrick Stevens
Engineered by Corey Schreppel and Dan Mariska
Web feature by Luke Taylor

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9 Photos

  • Albert Hammond Jr. performs in The Current studio.
    Albert Hammond Jr. performs in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Guitarist Colin Killalea tunes before performing with Albert Hammond Jr. in The Current studio.
    Guitarist Colin Killalea tunes before performing with Albert Hammond Jr. in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Albert Hammond Jr. performs in The Current studio.
    Albert Hammond Jr. performs in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Guitarist Hammarsing Kharhmar and bassist Jordan Brooks perform with Albert Hammond Jr. in The Current studio.
    Guitarist Hammarsing Kharhmar and bassist Jordan Brooks perform with Albert Hammond Jr. in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Drummer Jeremy Gustin performs with Albert Hammond Jr. in The Current studio.
    Drummer Jeremy Gustin performs with Albert Hammond Jr. in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Albert Hammond Jr. performs in The Current studio.
    Albert Hammond Jr. performs in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Albert Hammond Jr. performs in The Current studio.
    Albert Hammond Jr. performs in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Albert Hammond Jr. performs in The Current studio.
    Albert Hammond Jr. performs in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Members of Albert Hammond Jr.'s band confer with MPR engineer Corey Schreppel in the control room in The Current studio.
    Members of Albert Hammond Jr.'s band confer with MPR engineer Corey Schreppel in the control room in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
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