Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. is far from the buttoned-up type – sartorially, his band is still best known for their tight jeans and leather jackets. So while it might seem odd that the 35-year-old is moving into formal men's fashion, his collection of ties – a collaboration with Elliot Aronow of Jacques-Elliott – is anything but stuffy. "We're definitely in a more relaxed era," Hammond says. "But in times when you want to step up your game, you can just step it up lightly and just snap on that tie."
Appropriately, each item was created in a relaxed process: "We made our way to the fashion district where we picked out the best fabrics we could find," Hammond explains simply. The result is three ties with a casual look and a couple of nods to Hammond's other life. The AHJ features a silkscreened lightning bolt, styled after his signature guitar strap; the Ace of Space is a dapper black and blue wool-silk blend; and the 101 is a maroon and navy herringbone design.
This is not Hammond's first foray into fashion. With the help of celeb stylist Ilaria Urbinati, he previously made the custom suits worn by Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love. One day, he hopes to do a "shirt, suit, shoes, tie collection" of his own. The partnership with Aronow crosses one item off that checklist, but Hammond insists that a full line remains far in the future. "Life is just small steps," he says. "So this is my small step."
In the meantime, he continues to work on new music, finishing up a solo album that is scheduled to be released on July 31st. The LP, he says, was inspired by the idea of shadows and comes from "a few years just kind of understanding the process of having a shadow and what that means, what lies in there and what creative forces are in there, and how to – instead of just throwing that away – to incorporate it into yourself and be a whole person." His inspiration came from poet Anne Sexton and popular scientist Carl Sagan; the title, Momentary Masters, quotes a phrase in the latter's perspective-altering book Pale Blue Dot. "Every time I listen to that," Hammond Jr. says, "it brings me such peace."
As with 2013's AHJ EP, Hammond Jr. worked on the new music with Strokes collaborator Gus Ortberg. But this time, he enlisted a full band to accompany him, rather than recording all of the instruments himself. He is exceptionally, earnestly proud of the result: "I don't think I've done anything better," he says.