Albert Hammond Jr. has long known that he had a twin in the womb that was miscarried. But in an era of newfound creativity, it served as a catalyst for his latest album in a nod to his late brother.
Francis Trouble, released by the Strokes guitarist last year, is not musically about his twin but a chance to start something under another name. Hammond’s fourth solo studio album will be front-and-center at The Independent next Wednesday, Feb. 27.
Hammond is particularly fond of the song “Harder, Harder, Harder” — not just for highlighting his guitar skills but for capturing his previous lack of effort. “I just rolled the dice / Never trying hard enough,” he sings while recalling a conversation in Central Park about bringing forward new ideas.
“Sonically, I just felt like it was the story of where I had been in the past,” Hammond tells SF Weekly. “There were a lot of things I didn’t see through because I was more absorbed with getting fucked up. Drugs were just something I enjoyed, and then I wasn’t able to be tremendously creative.”
Hammond, who fell into drug addiction during the Strokes’ heyday, fell out of love with music by his late 20s. But in his early 30s, as he felt reluctant to continue writing music, he began picking up records he hadn’t heard before and fell back in love.
“From that moment, it’s just been pushing and pushing,” Hammond says. “You can never sail backwards.”
He released Momentary Masters in 2015 and kept the momentum going. Rather than worry about what sound his fans might respond to, Hammond pushes his musical sound forward by trying to write songs that he can’t walk away from and unlike the others.
As Hammond wraps up his solo tour, another one with familiar souls ramps up. The Strokes announced in December they would launch a “global comeback” with shows in 2019, starting with London’s All Points East. Although the band will be playing together once again, Hammond isn’t certain they’ll be making new music while he focuses on his own and Francis Trouble.
“Creation is just this constant you have to think about and craft is about putting on the work,” Hammond says. “The whole record reminds me of what I could have had.”
Albert Hammond Jr., Wednesday, Feb. 27, 8 p.m., at The Independent, 628 Divisadero St., $26, SOLD OUT, theindependentsf.com