September 5, 2013


The Strokes' Albert Hammond Jr. Opens Up on Heroin & Cocaine Addiction

David M. Benett/Getty Images
David M. Benett/Getty Images

The Strokes' boozy, drug-fueled path to rock stardom in the early aughts is no secret—it was vital to the quintet's hard-partying, downtown New York bad boy image. But for guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. the good times weren't, well, all that good.

In 2009, Hammond Jr. quietly entered rehab and has remained mum on his addiction issues ever since. Until now. 

Following the release of the Strokes' last album, Comedown Machine, Hammond Jr. is now preparing for his first solo release in five years, AHJ, an EP out October 8 via bandmate Julian Casablancas' Cult Records. He sat down with NME to discuss the Strokes (they're "in a great place"), his solo career (revived and budding) and the extent of his addiction for the first time ever.

"It was, like, oxycontin and cocaine at 24, 25, 26, and then I became [addicted to] heroin around then," Hammond Jr. said. "So from 26, 27 'til 29. 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 used to shoot cocaine, heroin and ketamine. All together. Morning, night, 20 times a day," he explained. "You know, I was a mess. I look back and I don't even recognize myself. I did my own thing." 

He was easily able to hide his addiction from casual acquaintances, but the cracks were showing to closer friends. "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 music and I was wearing a short shirt and (points to wrists)... there were just purple [track marks] all the way down here. And then they would call someone - 'Did you see Albert, he looks crazy?' That's where I learned to wear long sleeves." 

Hammond Jr. is now four years sober and splitting time between Manhattan and upstate New York; he recorded the EP, the follow-up to his 2006 debut Yours to Keep and 2008's ¿Cómo Te Llama?, at his own studios in both locations with producer/engineer Gus Oberg. And check out Hammond Jr's Instagram profile for a look inside his life—dude has refined taste: expensive motorcycles, exotic tropical vacationsU.S. Open tennis matches, gorgeous model girls and a cozy cabin (and recording studio) in the woods. Now that's the high life.