Photo by KMazur
A new book from Lizzy Goodman chronicles the New York City rock scene in the first decade of the 21st century. Entitled Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City, it’s made up of oral histories dictated by many of the scene’s big players, including The Strokes, LCD Soundsystem, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, and Vampire Weekend among others. In advance of the book’s May 23rd release, Goodman shared an excerpt in the May 15th issue of New York Magazine. The passage chronicles The Strokes’ meteoric rise to fame and their many stumbles along the way, specifically detailing the band’s tumultuous relationship with Ryan Adams.
In the book, the band and their associates blame Adams for getting guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. hooked on heroin. “Ryan 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,” Hammond alleged. “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.”
“I remember Julian [Casablancas] threatening to beat Ryan [Adams] up if he hung out with me, as a protective thing,” Hammond added. “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.”
For his part, Adams denied ever giving drugs to Hammond, telling Goodman, “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 … 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.” Adams, who has been very public about his struggles with drugs, says he’s been clean and sober for nearly a decade.
Adams did, however, recall a meeting he had with the band during which they asked him to stay away from Hammond. “It was very dramatic, the way it all went down,” he recounted. “I was asked to meet one single person in a bar and I got there and it was the whole band and Ryan. I was more or less given a lecture, a hypocritical lecture, and then they told me that I was not going to be part of their scene anymore. It was very weird. It was easy to brand me as the problem. I would suspect that they soon learned that I was not the problem.”
Elsewhere in the passage, journalist Mark Spitz recalled how Courtney Love was The Strokes’ “coke Yoda.” He also touched on the rivalry between Casablancas and The White Stripes’ Jack White, and how the latter was better suited to be a rock star. “He seemed more suited to that role. His vision seems pretty strong. And Jack didn’t have the burden of New York City.”
Much more sobering were some of the comments made by Hammond, who personally blamed himself for derailing the band’s success. “I’m sorry I killed everyone’s dreams. I don’t know if they’re still mad at me,” he said near the end of the excerpt.
You can read the full excerpt here.