There’s more to Albert Hammond Jr. than the Strokes.
Yes, the veteran guitarist — and son of singer-songwriter Albert Hammond — is a member of the group that helped bring a rough-and-ready sound back to rock a little more than 20 years ago. Along the way, the Strokes have won all sorts of acclaim, including a Grammy for best rock album in 2021 — proof that they’ve maintained their edge over time.
But Hammond has also built a multifaceted career that incorporates his own solo efforts — he’s released a handful of albums, with more music on the way — to say nothing of his entrepreneurial ventures. He’s had a clothing line. And he’s now behind Jetway, a budding “wine seltzer” label. It’s a wine-based drink with some fizz to it, like an elegant version of the wine coolers of yesteryear.
MarketWatch recently caught up with the 43-year-old Hammond to hear his thoughts on making music and building a beverage brand, along with how he approaches spending and saving. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.
MarketWatch: You’ve done a lot of different things in your career. Is there any thread that ties it together?
Hammond: Yeah, me! I think I’m just impulsive with things. It’s usually based on having an idea and just chasing it. It probably feels random at first. Like with [Jetway], I never had an Aperol spritz in my life, and I was in Italy with my Italian friend in Milan. We had this incredible night [drinking Aperol spritz]. And I was like, “Oh, man, someone should modernize this and can it.” And I just started doing it [with wine].
MarketWatch: There are already a lot of hard seltzers and other ready-to-drink beverages on the market. How do you think you’re going to strike a different chord with Jetway?
Hammond: I always say every field is saturated and hard to figure out. I don’t think there’s one thing worth doing where it’s like, “Well, I’m the only one doing it.” But I feel that we’re different. We’re not a hard seltzer. We’re not even really a seltzer. We’re kind of like in our own lane. I think we’re more of a lifestyle brand. Right now we’re trying to raise funds to create a bricks-and-mortar or tie-in with a either beer brand or a restaurant and start creating that vibe. We would be there on tap or in cans, [but] with other drinks, with other wines, with food that would pair well, with music, art, that whole thing.
MarketWatch: How have the Strokes managed to stay together for so long?
Hammond: Honestly, I have no idea because sometimes I can’t believe I’m still doing it. The part where you’re going to have a long career is not a given thing. We just were touring with the [Red Hot] Chili Peppers, and I could see it in their face: They felt the same thing. They don’t seem like they’re 60, and they’re also like, “Wow, we’re playing stadiums at 60.”
MarketWatch: Talk about how you balance your solo career with the Strokes.
Hammond: Yeah, balance is hard. I like writing songs, and I love being in the Strokes. Everything I do happens pretty organically. I don’t know if I’m wise enough to think about it any other way.
MarketWatch: Did your father give you any key advice about the music business or music in general?
Hammond: He worked very hard. He was always in his studio playing the piano, singing stuff. Even before I knew that’s what I wanted to do, I just learned that the process of creating is giving yourself time to be bored, just doing stuff and nothing’s coming out. That whole process is part of creating.
MarketWatch: What’s the best financial advice you’ve ever been given?
Hammond: I guess the best piece of advice is just money’s gotta move. The more you try to hold on to it, if it’s just in the bank, time makes the value lower. You have to let it go out into the world and do things. That’s an important lesson. I have my retirement fund. And I put money in three- to five-year investments. And there are different ways to do life insurance. And anything that comes up. … At some point it’s going to naturally happen where I’ll invest in a company or other companies that are new.
MarketWatch: What do you hate spending money on?
Hammond: The only time I really hate spending money is when something’s expensive and it’s not good. I just did renovations on my house and people are mediocre. And that bothers me when you spend money and they don’t care.
MarketWatch: Conversely, what’s something worth spending on?
Hammond: I like coffee. That’s my ritual. I have an amazing espresso machine.
MarketWatch: A favorite possession of yours?
Hammond: So many different things. Obviously, there’s instruments. There’s certain clothes. There’s stupid little knickknacks throughout my life. Little things that I can’t describe.
MarketWatch: What’s a job you’d do even if you didn’t get paid for it?
Hammond: Well, I keep my house clean, and I don’t make any money from that. But that’s a strange hypothetical question to ask. I don’t know if anyone would like anything if they didn’t make money from it [and] they were starving.
MarketWatch: Finally, do you think you’ll ever retire?
Hammond: If I’m able to play music my whole life, I don’t see what I’d be retiring from. I might be changing speeds of how I do it, but, if in 20 years I could still be playing music, I would play it till the end.