When it’s all over and the final book is done, few bands will have had more words written about them than The Libertines. Subject to intense media scrutiny and tabloid fascination, no matter how outlandish some of these tales will be true, some massively exaggerated and some complete fabrication – all of them will be captivating. From stories of fall outs, reunions and reconciliations the underlying thread will be one of relevance. It’s a commodity few artists truly have but for the likes of The Kinks, Bowie, The Pistols, The Smiths, Oasis and The Libertines, no matter what you think of their music, their relevance cannot be denied. Pete Doherty and Carl Barât’s on-off volatile relationship exploded its the peak of their success in 2004, a long hiatus followed with the band reuniting at Reading and Leeds festival in 2010. 2015 saw the band release their highly acclaimed ‘Anthems for Doomed Youth’ much to fans delight. The Libertines have over the years, undeniably, wrote songs to sing along to, songs to remember a good night by and anthems that accompany one of the greatest rock and roll stories of our generation.
We sat down in the band’s spotless living room at the back of their tour bus on a huge black and grey leather settee, which was sprawled to the left hand side of the room, whilst a huge plasma screen covered the opposite wall. Carl walked, gave us a warm hug and sat down. He looked fresh and relaxed and was wearing some very becoming sunglasses, which we were later to find out were some knock off’s from Japan that he adores. I started by asking Carl how things were going and hard it was at the minute to juggle everything with their different projects. “It’s quite easy to be honest” Carl told me “Time wise can be a bugger but it’s all kind of related, I’ve just come back from China with my other band ‘Carl Barât and the Jackals’ but it’s just like a bus man’s holiday, it’s hard to find the time but it’s nice to have a break from each other as well but we are not really doing anything that different really” I asked Carl how he enjoyed China. “China was bonkers, it’s a totally different world I was just going out there to test the water but I’ve never been given so many presents. In every airport there was flowers and all sorts of other mental stuff like ivory back scratchers and things, they welcomed us really well, it was fucking great”
The Libertines have recently bought a hotel in Margate which they are renovating. The five-storey, ten-room Victorian building seaside hotel come studio will give the band somewhere of their own to go and record. It has been aptly named ‘The Albion Rooms’ – after the band’s old London flat. A statement on the band’s website about their new hotel reads: “Margate is a classic seaside resort, particularly popular with Londoners, but also has rich artistic roots and a free spirit – this mix of traditional English charm and modern cool gives it plenty of libertine appeal.” Carl told me “It’s really special, been on the road a lot we didn’t have anything that bonded us together, this hotel is the first bricks and mortar embodiment of the bands spirit so that’s where we are from now. I have a lovely room and no one else is allowed in but it was my idea so… Pete’s taken four rooms that are all in a state of disrepair but he doesn’t seem to mind” I asked Carl when the hotel come studio is looking to open. “There’s still a lot of work to do, its in the early stages but hopefully all be ready by the beginning of the New Year”
With a new album on the horizon to be recorded at The Albion Rooms Hotel, Carl is keeping his cards close to his chest when I try to delve in about the new album, he tells me “I tend to lock myself away in my little bunker as I can be lazy, I can’t work under the pressure of thinking I need to write a fucking hit, I’ve got a lot of ideas for this album, ones which I need to chat about with the boys”
The band are due on stage in a few hours so I asked Carl how he was feeling. “I still get incredibly nervous but never so much as when I am on my own, even playing tonight the nerves are already there but I think it’s good it keeps you on your toes and thirsty for it and I think the only thing that kills it dead is the booze but it’s not ideal” On the subject of performing I asked Carl who over the years had been his favourite support band. ” Well, Chaz n Dave have always been a belter and I think we are going to play with them again soon, so yeah, that was a real milestone” He sits and thinks for a moment and goes on to say “It’s a funny word ‘support’ like The Wu Tang Clan once supported us but they were just on the same festival bill which isn’t quite the same is it? I’d probably get a slap in the face if I said the Manics were supporting us tonight. I think the best support act we ever had was this French dancer called Sandra and she was painted blue, which was beautiful. She burst out of an egg and did a dance, she’s one that stands out to me and we used to have poets like performance poets which I really loved”
One thing that The Libertines will never escape is their bad boy reputation with a certain look and style to match. I asked Carl how important their image is to them. “I think that image is very important to a band because you are presenting yourself and it’s something people see as much as they hear. I mean if the Velvet Underground had all been wearing grey hoodies and tracky bottoms I doubt I would have been into them as much and it shouldn’t have to be like that but yeah, you make an effort with that a lot of other people know that they can explore and be free with their image and be adventurous and have fun with it” I took this opportunity to ask Carl what his thoughts were about guitar music and the unsigned scene “I think guitar music will keep ticking along and great things are always happening its just a matter of where the spot light is, and I think the key word there is signed and how important being signed is and what it actually means. My advice to new bands is don’t ever stop and always be true to yourself”
QUICK FIRE (-ish)
Last Album Bought: I’m always buying stacks of vinyl’s but the last one was the theme from ‘The Good the Bad and the Ugly’ and in the same outing I also bought Mel Brook’s weird ‘Hitler Rap’ and also a ‘Lee Scratch Perry’ album.
Football Team: Arsenal.
Next Prime Minister: I think Jeremy Corbyn could be elected.
Guilty Pleasure: Queen.
Hero: Peter Sellers.
Villain: Lou Carpenter from Neighbours.
Best Comedy Show: Rising Damp.
Best Unsigned Band: Trampolene.
Threads: Knock off sunglasses from Hong Kong.
Trotters: Chuck Taylors.
Chips n Gravy/Chips n Cheese: Chips and gravy.
Best Venue: The Astoria, God rest its soul.
Breadcake,Barn,or Bap: None haha! It’s a fucking bread roll!
The Libertines went on to prove on Friday night, that yet again they are a must have addition to any festival line up worth its salt and I look forward to the next.
The Libertines play Kendal Calling Main Stage tonight at 21.20pm, then…