Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr.’s solo debut, Yours to Keep, is a reminder of what made his band’s ?rst two albums such epic, catchy, ?st-pumping rock ’n’ roll fun—undeniable hooks delivered with we-could-be-dead-tomorrow-so-let’s-live-tonight passion, all bursting atop tight-locking guitar parts with unmistakable tones. But Yours to Keep is no mere Strokes recap; it’s also a machete-wielding trek through uncharted psychedelic-tinged acoustic- and pop-rock jungles Hammond has never before explored. In both cases, the record is a breath of fresh air after The Strokes’ disappointing First Impressions of Earth, and it’s everything a great solo record by a sideman should be—diverse and self-indulgent, but with enough to remind you why you liked the guy in the ?rst place.
So what inspired Hammond to finally strike out on his own? Given that he’s had only one co-writing credit with The Strokes in three albums (Room on Fire’s “Automatic Stop”), was he feeling creatively sti?ed? “Nothing like that; the exact opposite,” he explains from his Kansas City hotel room, on tour opening for alt-metal holdovers Incubus. “I just had a little time o? and thought the songs I was writing were getting better, and felt like if I didn’t record them I wouldn’t be able to grow from it. It turned into a record, kind of by accident.”
The Greg Lattimer-produced sessions—during which Hammond worked closely with drummer Matt Romano and bassist Josh Lattanzi, and brought in friends like Ben Kweller and Sean Lennon for cameos—began in January 2005, and continued sporadically for the next two years. “We only had so much time at the studio because I was busy,” says Hammond, “so it was like this weird pressure to do things fast, yet over this long period of time. It was a strange feeling, but by the time we got into the [middle of the sessions], that was probably our peak on the record. We were just working so hard and having so much fun, and everyone in the studio was on the same page. We were clicking on everything.”
Hammond will wrap up a month-long headlining tour and a brief opening stint for Bloc Party in April, and with The Strokes having no currently scheduled tour dates, the guitarist-turned-singer/songwriter hopes to keep working on his own projects. “I want to make another record,” he says. “De?nitely, I’m de?nitely going to make another record, with Matt and Josh, and hopefully sometime in the fall or December, start recording.”