soul-baring interviews

The Strokes’ Guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. Opens Up About His Very Extensive Drug Use

A clean and sober Albert Hammond Jr. in July.

In a chat with NME, Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr., the once big-haired dreamboat, shares the indie rock equivalent of a True Hollywood Story, revealing a five-year drug addiction. It went something like this: “oxycontin and cocaine at 24, 25, 26. And then I became [addicted to] heroin around then. So from 25, 27 till 29.” That might explain some past unorthodox behavior and, according to Consequence of Sound, the 33-year-old uses these experiences on AHJ — a solo EP being released October 8 on bandmate Julian Casablancas’ Cult Records — singing lines like “I can’t believe I lost my mind.”

Now four years clean, there were lots of nitty gritty drug details Hammond wanted to get off his chest:

“It’s not so much that I wasn’t in a happy place; I was just… God knows where I was. I was just very high. That’s where I was… I mean, do you want me to get specific? I don’t mind, but yeah, I used to shoot cocaine, heroin and ketamine. All together. Morning, night, 20 times a day.

You know, I was a mess. I look back and I don’t even recognize myself. I did my own thing. I mean, you have moments when you’re fine. And if someone meets you, you seem fine. But I remember when I was showing someone some music and I was wearing a short shirt and… there were just purple (needle track marks) all the way down (my arm). And then they would call someone - ‘Did you see Albert, he looks crazy?’. That’s where I learned to wear long sleeves. I’ve had these tattoos forever and I have people coming up (saying), ‘Oh, you’ve had new tattoos?’. I’m like, ‘No, you just haven’t seen me with a short shirt on…

I think drugs were a great way to get out of your head. You enjoy that for a while, it helps you to go to new places. But then it stops you from growing and puts you in a place where you’re just not as good as you could be - for me. I’m not judging. I did it hard and for a long time, so I’m in no place to judge, nor would I. Something clicked one day, and I got out of it.”

While Hammond spends much of the NME interview going into alarming detail about his personal life, he makes one novel move in not talking about his band. “I hold very dear what we have together as friends. I’m just very careful at how things get said, because I don’t want something to be misunderstood and then become the face of saying that stuff,” he said, explaining the The Strokes’ decision to keep a lid on this year’s Comedown Machine. “We thought it’d be cool to keep a quietness to it, to see what a record would do [if you could only] listen to it,” Hammond said. “Look, I feel like [the press] get everything wrong.”

The Strokes Guitarist Reveals Drug Addiction