Speaking to NME, the guitarist discussed his anticipated return to the UK – ahead of a solo tour this week. He also spoke out on the confusion that ensued when a hoax Strokes show was announced in London earlier this year.
Check out our Q&A with him in full below.
Francis Trouble has been out for six months, how’s the reaction been so far?
“We’ve been playing it live a lot, and it’s the best it’s ever been in front of the fans both in Europe and America. The songs have broke the top 40, and I feel like fans are listening to it and understanding my voice. It’s been exhilarating.”
The album sees you opening up on the death of your stillborn brother. What made you want to discuss it on the album?
“I thought it was a cool thing. I had a twin that I lost and, later on, it becomes the genesis of a superhero story.
“It’s like a comic book hero being born. You might come from another planet, so the fact that we existed together at one point – it allowed me to discover other parts of me. It seemed more exciting to put it in an alter-ego. It becomes a persona and it lives forever.”
Taking the record on the road, is there a sense of vulnerability when you’re not with The Strokes?
“No! I enjoy it more at times. I get asked that a lot, but it seems like a weird thing to say. It’s never like that. ”
Earlier this year, we saw fans getting confused at the prospect of a Strokes show in Camden. It later turned out to be a hoax. Was any part of you confused by that?
“Well, it didn’t confuse me because I’m in the band. I felt people were not really being as smart as they could because everyone has social media now and it was very easy to see that I was on tour and there wasn’t going to be a show.
“But y’know, I didn’t feel the need to respond. It felt more exciting for it to be its own story. I remember reading tweets and someone said ‘my daughter went and took the train’. I didn’t respond – if I was a teenager and I did that it would feel like a fun journey, a part of life.
“It wasn’t like I set it up. It was just funny and I see that a lot – there’s a lot of technology but no one wants to use it to find out where we are.”
We also saw Arctic Monkeys namechecking The Strokes on ‘Star Treatment’ in May. How was that for you?
“It’s more fun for the people who do it! I don’t live my life in that, it’s something you laugh at more. Sure it’s nice, but I didn’t think of it – I thought of it as a way of describing the simplicity of being young.
“It’s a thing you want for the simplicity of it, and then you realise it’s a lot more complicated. It’s what a picture looks like – and a perfect way to reference his youth. It’s a cool thing and he’s a great lyricist.”
Finally, you’ve teamed up with Fender for your own Signature Stratocaster series. How hands-on were you in creating a product that you’re happy putting your name on?
“I was completely hands on. As much as you can possibly can be. They’re an amazing company and I was in there at every step of the process. It was wonderful, I play it on stage and I like it very much. It’s close as you can get to a replica, but the whole idea was to not age it and make it feel like a signature guitar that you could sell at a high-end price.”
Hammond Jr is touring the UK this week. Check out the dates below and buy tickets here.
Club Academy, Manchester, Tuesday September 11
SWG3, Glasgow, Wednesday September 12
Electric Ballroom, London, Friday September 13
Thekla, Bristol, Saturday September 14
Concorde 2, Brighton, Sunday September 16