New Book Details NYC Rock Scene from 2001 to 2011: An Oral History of The Strokes' Rise and Drug Issues

Brad Bershad

by Brad Bershad

Published May 16, 2017
The Strokes' Albert Hammond Jr. and Nick Valensi at 2A in New York. Photo credit: Colin Lane

Next week, a new book will come out called Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011 by Lizzy Goodman.

In anticipation of the book's release, New York Magazine and its subsidiary website Vulture have published a fascinating excerpt of the book detailing the story of The Strokes from their debut album in 2001 to their fourth album in 2009.

What is particularly striking about the excerpt is the candid talk about the band's struggles personally and professionally — and especially about Albert Hammond's drug use and strained relationship with singer-songwriter Ryan Adams.

There are some great nuggets, including the portrayal of Courtney Love as The Strokes' "Coke Yoda." Here are a few excerpts:

Albert Hammond Jr.: Ryan [Adams] would always come and wake me at two in the morning and have drugs, so I’d just do the drugs and kind of numb out. I knew I would shoot up drugs from a very young age. I’d been wanting to do heroin since I was 14 years old.

Catherine Pierce (Albert's former girlfriend and fiancée): [Albert] used to say, “I love drugs. I’m not an addict, I love drugs!”

Albert Hammond Jr.: I remember Julian threatening to beat Ryan up if he hung out with me, as a protective thing. He’d heard that Ryan would come and give me heroin, so he was just like, “If you come to my apartment again with heroin, I’m going to kick your ass.” I hadn’t really been doing it in baggie form until Ryan showed up. He was definitely a bad influence.

Ryan Adams: That’s so sad, because Albert and I were friends. If anything, I really felt like I had an eye on him in a way that they never did. I was around and we actually spent time together. He would show me his songs. It was like, “No one ever listens to my music, but do you want to hear it?” I would be like, “Fuck yeah!” I loved him so deeply. I would never ever have given him a bag of heroin. I remember being incredibly worried about him, even after I continued to do speedballs.

Julian Casablancas: Did I specifically tell Ryan to stay away from Albert? I can’t remember the details, to be honest. I think heroin just kind of crosses a line. It can take a person’s soul away. So it’s like if someone is trying to give your friend a lobotomy — you’re gonna step in.

Ryan Adams: I didn’t do drugs socially, and I don’t remember doing drugs with Albert ever. I wanted to smoke cigarettes and drink, like, dark red wine or vodka and write all night.

Albert Hammond Jr.: There was this amazing time, before we had to record the first record, we’d play to 80 people or something like that, but no one really knew us. We could just walk around town and think, I’m in this band, we can bring people to shows, and that was by far the best time. Everything was so innocent. Somehow you lose the innocence through time and through doing too much, then you spend a lot of time chasing that same innocence.

Regardless of whether you agree with the article's premise that The Strokes were "The Last Great Rock Band," this is a great read that shines a light on what was happening with one of the most popular rock bands in the world.

The oral history features interviews with the band members themselves, in addition to Jack White (then of the White Stripes), James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem), Moby, and several other people close with the band, including their manager, record label, and publicist at the time.

Read the full excerpt at Vulture and pick up the book — which has stories about other New York City bands like The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsystem, Interpol, and Vampire Weekend — on Amazon.

Courtney Love Jack White James Murphy Julian Casablancas Ryan Adams The Strokes
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