The Strokes’ Albert Hammond Jr. talks about This Ain’t No Picnic and being “a weirder band” – Orange County Register

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Albert Hammond Jr. says it was both weird and amazing when the Strokes went on tour again earlier this year to perform live.

“It’s not easy, but I feel like I spent two years at home as the world tries to get back on its feet,” says the guitarist. “So there are failures, but to actually do it? Yeah, it’s amazing.

The Strokes have toured Europe and Australia, playing at many festivals, as well as opening for shows for Red Hot Chili Peppers Stadium Tour. They return to Southern California to headline the second night of This Ain’t No Picnic on Sunday, August 28 at Brookside at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

This Ain’t No Picnic also features LCD Soundsystem as headliners on Saturday August 20th. Phoebe Bridger, The TigerBeach House, Kaytranada and Sparks.

  • Julian Casablancas of The Strokes performs during day one of the Ohana Festival at Doheny State Beach. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes performs on the first day...

    Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes performs during day one of the Ohana Festival at Doheny State Beach. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Julian Casablancas and Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes play...

    Julian Casablancas and Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes perform during day one of the Ohana Festival at Doheny State Beach. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Nikolai Fraiture of The Strokes performs on day one of...

    Nikolai Fraiture of The Strokes performs during day one of the Ohana Festival at Doheny State Beach. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Julian Casablancas of The Strokes performs on day one of...

    Julian Casablancas of The Strokes performs during day one of the Ohana Festival at Doheny State Beach. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Julian Casablancas, lead singer of The Strokes, center, performs after...

    Julian Casablancas, lead singer of The Strokes, center, performs after Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a campaign stop at the Whittemore Center Arena in the University of New Hampshire, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, in Durham, NH (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

  • The Strokes wrap up day one of the Ohana Festival in...

    The Strokes wrap up day one of the Ohana Festival at Doheny State Beach. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Nick Valensi of The Strokes performs on day one of...

    Nick Valensi of The Strokes performs during day one of the Ohana Festival at Doheny State Beach. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • Julian Casablancas of The Strokes performs on day one of...

    Julian Casablancas of The Strokes performs during day one of the Ohana Festival at Doheny State Beach. (Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

So, is it different to shoot after the pandemic?

“Doesn’t everything look different than it did before?” Hammond responds. “The whole world is a little (worse).

“We try to come up and make it exciting,” he says. “I always look at every night as a new way to bring the crowd to you. See what they connect with. So I mean that element, that part is always there.

“So maybe it saves you from overthinking it – you’re just in the moment. But other than that, everything seems so different.

On the road once more

So far this year, the Strokes have played around 30 shows, their most since 2011 when they played around 40, and still significantly fewer than in previous years when they racked up more than 100 nights on stage in a few years.

Hammond says that while he generally prefers to play more shows, the decision has to work for all five members of the band, which includes vocalist Julian Casablancas, guitarist Nick Valensi, bassist Nikolai Fraiture and drummer Fabrizio Moretti.

“It’s hard to respond as one-fifth of the whole entity,” Hammond says. “What I would like to do or what we have decided as a group are two different things, and there is a compromise between them.

“At first I don’t think you have any choice but to do this, especially if you’re lucky enough to have a break where people are excited to come see you and believe in you,” he says. . “You really believe in the record and the shows keep coming up and you kind of go there.”

Since 2011 and the Angles album tour, most of the Strokes have also taken time off for their own projects. Casablancas has the Voidz and Fraiture has the side project Summer Moon.,

Hammond tours with his eponymous solo band. He also moved from Manhattan to Los Angeles with his wife and daughter and recently launched a seltzer wine line called Jetway.

Still, it’s not the same as touring with the Strokes, he says.

“From my perspective, yes, it’s a disappointment,” Hammond said. “I wish I was on tour all the time. But yeah, if you ask, ‘Why didn’t you do that?’ there is no answer that I can give that can describe a dynamic that makes us who we are.

The old new album

This tour could have taken place a few years earlier. The Strokes’ latest album was released in April 2020, and its title – “The New Abnormal” – is an oddly appropriate name for how life has changed during the pandemic.

And, of course, most bands will be turning behind a new album, even though “The New Abnormal” has been around long enough to earn the band their first-ever Grammy nomination and win Best Rock Album a year ago. .

“He got old while everybody was sitting there,” Hammond says with a laugh. “No, it’s still new.”

For this sixth Strokes album, the band chose famed producer Rick Rubin to helm the project in the studio, a decision that Hammond says worked out beautifully.

“The coolest thing I felt was that he kind of allowed us to be a band again,” he says. “And as something happened, whenever something was right, we went with it. I don’t know. It allowed the space to exist and stay in a certain headspace during the whole process.

Rubin’s presence in the studio allowed the band members to relax and trust that they, their songs, and the album were in good hands.

“He has insights to nudge you in directions when you might be overwhelmed,” Hammond says. “And then it was an older character, and someone who had made so many great records and worked with so many great artists, it would just make you feel like five kids again, and there’s something ‘one older and responsible.

“People laugh at this Peter Pan complex, but I feel like bands in some ways have to stay like that on some level because that’s part of it.”

then and now

Next year will mark the 25th anniversary of the Strokes’ formation in New York, although their debut album, ‘Is This It’, was not released until 2001.

Sometimes the magic of those early days still seems present today, Hammond says. At other times, it’s like ancient history.

“I mean, time is a weird thing,” he says. “It’s been 25 years and in some ways it’s exactly the same; and in some ways it looks completely different.

“Sometimes chatting backstage after a show or randomly meeting somewhere, maybe meeting our managers, we’re still talking and hanging out,” Hammond says. “We still feel like we’re 18, we’ve finished rehearsals and we’re somewhere talking to each other for a while.

“And then other times you feel so distant. Everyone has families. You are older, you realize that your time seems less.

“You know, it seems like an eternity, and then you get old and you’re like, ‘God…'” he laughs.

Making music, live or in the studio, is when the Strokes feel even better.

“I remember the one thing we always talked about was that we wanted to make music that we felt was good and something that could compete with what was out there,” Hammond said. “Like being another mix of everything in the world of rock and pop, but without having to sacrifice what we wanted to get there. As always making it sound like music we would want to hear.

“I think we’ve achieved it,” he says. “To want to be like an art band – I don’t mean ‘art band’, because it gives a lot of feelings that I already hate. Just like, a weirder bunch. Who matches.

“It’s trying to fit into some kind of mainstream, it’s probably too far away, but some kind of world where it’s successful and not just hidden. Where it’s almost like you’ve found a hidden gem.”

This is not a picnic festival

What: Headlining The Strokes and LCD Soundsystem are joined by artists such as Phoebe Bridgers, The Tiger, Beach House, Courtney Barnett, Earl Sweatshirt and many more.

When: Saturday and Sunday August 27-28

Where: Brookside at the Rose Bowl, Pasadena

How much: One day from $159, both days from $299. Clubhouse VIP tickets are $649. All prices have additional costs.

For more: Cesaintnopicnic.com

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