At 38, and clean and sober, Albert Hammond Jr. is happily married and producing some of his finest solo work to date. But he’ll be the first to acknowledge he’s taken a particularly rocky path to become the man that he is today. His fourth album sees the accomplished musician adopt an alter-ego, a tribute to his twin brother, Francis, who was still-born after complications in the first trimester of their mother’s pregnancy.

Although Hammond has always known about his brother, it was only last year while he was spending time with his family that it came to light that Francis’ fingernail was found amongst Albert’s placenta, and the revelation brought a lot of buried emotion to the forefront.

“The idea of using an alter-ego was a tool at first. I had done some shadow and dream therapy…” He stops for a moment. “Maybe therapy’s the wrong word. But I’d done some dream exploring, and creating a different persona helped take me out of my comfort zone. Then I found out about the true story of how I was born with a part of my twin and he became this fantastical, almost Marvel-esque superhero figure, you know? And embracing that character allowed me to take the weight off from my name.”

Watch the clip for ‘Far Away Truths’ by Albert Hammond Jr.

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As well as being the son of former model Claudia Fernández and celebrated singer-songwriter Albert Hammond, the musician’s name is synonymous with the success of indie rockers The Strokes. Founded by boarding school alum Julian Casablancas, with Hammond on rhythm guitar, the Strokes dominated the New York underground music scene and sparked a bidding war with the release of their debut EP The Modern Age (2001).

Success is a weird thing. I don’t know if success gives you confidence.

Over time, they went onto become one of the most respected and influential bands of the decade. However, despite the critical praise the band continues to receive Hammond says he still struggles with self-confidence issues when it comes to the creative process.

“Success is a weird thing. I don’t know if success gives you confidence: I feel like success can take it from you,” he says. “When you’re creating, you don’t wanna walk in the studio super cocky. Or I guess you can. There’s no rules; I don’t know what I’m talking about. I have zero idea!” he laughs.

These days, the former roller skate champion isn’t afraid to admit he doesn’t have all the answers and he credits much of his personal growth to his former psychotherapist, the late Andrew Park. “He started as a therapist and became a second father, and a mentor if you will. I grew so much with him and now that he’s passed I have to go and slay my own dragon and face life without him as part of ‘The Hero’s Journey’. It’s a mythology that’s died away in modern life, but I believe having a mentor is really important,” he adds.

“I didn’t really realise it before but he [Park] made me into a man, and even though I will continue to make mistakes – because making mistakes doesn’t end – he taught me the tools to help me admit my wrongs and learn from them. So, when I reached the pinnacle and achieved a version of me that I wanted to be I couldn’t think of anyone else that I’d rather play [Hammond Jr.’s new album] Francis Trouble for than him,” he explains. “I guess the best I could do was dedicate it to him unfortunately.”

Watch the clip for ‘Set To Attack’ by Albert Hammond Jr.

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Francis Trouble is Hammond at his most dynamic yet. At just 36 minutes long (the same age he was when the truth about his twin revealed), it is bursting with 10 sharp and succinctly produced tracks. The album opener ‘DvsL’ is a rollicking guitar-driven introduction to his new found larger-than-life attitude, and the fun continues with ‘Far Away Truths’, co-written with Tyler Parkford of Mini Mansions.

“This is the first time I’ve ever had a co-writer on my solo stuff. Again, I was out of my comfort zone. I just get insecure about sharing ideas with unknown people, you know?” he says. “I always worried if I worked with someone else that I’d lose myself, but I guess this time because I felt more comfortable in who I was and what I could bring, I really enjoyed it. It worked out fantastically and it gives the record another point of difference or another angle.”

The moodier-sounding ‘Tea For Two’ was also written with Parkford, as was ‘Muted Beatings’. However Hammond also invited Grammy-nominated songwriter and producer Jennifer Decilveo (The Wombats, Beth Ditto) into his inner circle for that one as well. “In the chaos of creation there’s a huge mess of bad ideas but sometimes there’s these little gems here and there and you just have to know when to pull them out.”

Watch the clip for ‘Muted Beatings’ by Albert Hammond Jr.

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Hammond will soon showcase Francis Trouble at Splendour In the Grass, followed by sideshows at the Factory Theatre in Sydney and Corner Hotel in Melbourne, and he promises a performance befitting his new lease on life. “There’s nothing like playing your own solo show. Sometimes in the beginning the crowd is a little awkward gathering with a bunch of people they don’t know, but it’s all on me to bring people together. That’s my ultimate goal,” he says. “I’m not saying I’m great at it. I’ve gotten a little better after my American tour – but it’s made me feel alive again.”

Albert Hammond Jr. will appear at Splendour In The Grass 2018 at North Byron Parklands from Friday, July 20 to Sunday, July 22. He’ll also play a pair of sideshows, appearing at the Factory Theatre in Sydney on Tuesday, July 24 and Corner Hotel in Melbourne on Wednesday, July 25. Both shows will be supported by CLEWS.

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