Chuck Klosterman Asks: How Important Is Albert Hammond Jr. To The Strokes

by Eric Van Dril · 69 comments

Chuck Klosterman writes for ESPN’s and in today’s column, he asks: “[I]s there a mathematical way to calculate how essential a given musician is to his or her band, and would it then be possible to extrapolate that artist’s value in comparison to other artists in competing groups?”

Albert Hammond Jr. serves as the case study after Klosterman explains his system for Gross VORM, which is the way to measure the importance of a musician. The point system is as follows: Songwriting (40 points), sonic contribution (20 points), visual Impact (10 points), live performance (10), attitude (5), intangibles (15).

An artist can score 100 points total. Here’s Klosterman’s breakdown of Albert’s worth to the band and within the musical scene as a whole…

Here’s how Hammond scores within the five categories we just outlined:

1. Songwriting (6 out of 40): On the early Strokes albums, vocalist Julian Casablancas wrote almost everything (J.C. would probably get a career score of 25 in this category). But the most recent Strokes album (Angles) gives songwriting credits to all five members equally, and Casablancas wasn’t even in the studio (he mailed in his vocal tracks electronically). Hammond is now a registered factor. He also made two solo records that sound like decent Strokes facsimiles, so one assumes he must play a role in the creation of actual Strokes songs. As such, he gets 6 of the remaining 15 points that didn’t go to Julian.

2. Visual impact (4 out of 10): In the past, I would have given Hammond 6 points here, as he’s traditionally been “the most Stroke-like” Stroke. That will remain true over time, since the image of the Strokes we’ll all inevitably remember is how they looked in 2001. However, Hammond recently went to rehab, lost a bunch of weight, and cut his hair; this costs him two points of visual impact. He gets a 4.

3. Sonic contribution (3 out of 20): The two most distinctive aspects of most Strokes tracks are Casablanca’s woozy-sloth vocals and Fab Moretti’s precision drumming. Moreover, one could argue that Hammond is the second-most important guitar player in a band with only two guitars. He only gets 3 points here, which hurts.

4. Live performance (6 out of 10): When you watch the Strokes perform live, Hammond is usually the only person who seems excited to be there. He supposedly selects clothing that makes dancing easier, and he sometimes makes jokes during interviews that are authentically funny. He gets the lion’s share of these points.

5. Attitude: (1 out of 5): All the Strokes get 1 point apiece. In this regard, they are equal.

6. Intangibles (7 out of 15): Hammond’s father recorded at least one song (“It Never Rains in Southern California”) that’s probably better than any song the Strokes have ever made. Al Jr. wears three-piece suits on warm days, holds his guitar like Buddy Holly, is pictured smoking (!) in the liner notes for Is This It, and has not dated Drew Barrymore. In a broad sense, Hammond’s role in the Strokes is inherently intangible; as a result, he dominates this category.

We now have Albert Hammond Jr.’s Gross Rock VORM: 27 (this is slightly higher than two of the other three Strokes, but lower than the irreplaceable Julian, who pulls down a 41). But this is only his gross score; since there are five members of the band, we need to divide by five.3 This is how we establish the Adjusted Rock VORM (ARV). Hammond’s ARV is 5.8, which denotes how much more valuable he is compared to any random rhythm guitarist the Strokes could pull off the streets of lower Manhattan. We work from the premise that our hypothetical replacement musician would earn an ARV of 1.0, which means Hammonds is 5.8 times better.

Go here to read the entire piece. We’ve been over this probably about 100 times in the comments section, but Klosterman’s column begs the question: How important is Albert to The Strokes?

More importantly, is Klosterman’s VORM a logical way to compare musicians or is it just a way for him to make a couple hundred dollars and keep his editors happy?

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jake June 24, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Simply put The Strokes wouldn’t be The Strokes without one of the original members. Despite Julian’s overwhelming songwriting contributions to the band, they all appear as a united force in their image. Without one of them the balance would be off, hence, no The Strokes.

2 Tima June 25, 2011 at 3:32 am

What the fuck? The jist of this article makes me pissed off. Just asking how important a bandmember is to a band is ridiculous , and to score it? Fuck you Chuck Klosterman.

3 Hello June 28, 2011 at 1:53 pm

People are getting way too buttmad over this. It’s a stupid thing to judge the most “important” member of a band when they each clearly play a role, but it’s fun to try to dissect what makes each member important. So just enjoy the idea for what it’s worth (which is very little.)

That being said, Julian is the “most important” member, and that term should be used loosely :)

4 berriesnigga June 30, 2011 at 10:21 pm

whoever wrote this is retarded. there are 5 strokes members. and rating a person is wrong, this whole article smells of bullshit

5 lol July 5, 2011 at 2:38 am

Learn to read morons. WOW

6 Joe December 13, 2011 at 5:02 pm

What a load of bullshit. This guy is obviously anti Albert, because the nature of this artical is meant to be critical of his persona, yet he purposefully victimises him. I’m sorry, but his sonic contribution and live performances are major within the strokes! His rhythm guitar playing is literally the sound of the strokes. 2/4 upstroke- last night, someday, trying your luck, automatic stop, ucod?! And his live performances! To say he’s the most passionate onstage is an understatement, the visible amount of effort is inspiring. And a last moan, of you gave the solo albums a proper listen you’d come to a conclusion that being a strokes guitarist, the guitar playing may sound similar… And the fact is, they dont sound like strokes albums, theyre a bit more poppy and structurally simpler.

7 Joe December 13, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Plus, just googled him. He’s ginger, chubby, glass-wearing, with a ginger beard. And he’s not in a band, his occupation is ‘an essayist’. Oh dear.

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