Journalist Lizzy Goodman will publish Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City, 2001–2011, a new oral history diving into NYC’s 21st century rock scene, on May 23. Today, Vulture has published a lengthy excerpt that focuses on the Strokes, arguably the coolest band to emerge from the bar-band milieu. It’s fascinating from the get-go, diving into the tumultuous relationship between the Strokes and Ryan Adams, who the band seems to have mixed feelings about in retrospect.
Why? Well, probably because they accuse Adams of getting guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. into 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 says in the book. “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.” His attraction to hard drugs is credited with sparking the band’s slow fall from grace. “When Julian [Casablancas] and I stopped living together, that’s kind of when it changed,” he says.
Musician Catherine Pierce says: “It was such a weird time, because everybody was simultaneously psyched about ‘Oh, we’re all becoming famous, this is awesome, let’s all hang out.’ But it was also like, ‘Wait, Ryan’s a bad influence.'”
Hammond says Casablancas threatened to beat up Adams if he continued to hang out with the guitarist, “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.”
Then, here’s Casablancas to potentially corroborate: “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.”
Adams, for his part, denies the allegations. “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 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.” He also describes an incident where the entire band confronted him in a bar, and said they weren’t going to hang out with him anymore. “It was easy to brand me as the problem. I would suspect that they soon learned that I was not the problem.”
There’s a lot of other juicy stuff in this excerpt, including the Strokes’ relationship with Courtney Love, their jealousy of the Killers, and the general whirlwind around them as they achieved success so early with debut album Is This It. Read the whole thing here, and look out for Goodman’s book on May 23.