Bournemouth is drizzly and wet, but the atmosphere is buzzing.
The Libertines are playing the BIC Centre later on and Pete and I are walking to his tour bus, his hand holding down one of his infamous hats onto his head.
It’s hard to walk even a few meters next to such an influential poet, with fans coming from all directions, confessing their love for a flattered, humble Peter Doherty, who takes the time to chat to each of them.
After taking some fresh air at the beach, we head back up to the hotel.
The Hilton is all it’s imagined to be, the hotel room belonging to Peter Doherty, is all it’s imagined to be. Like a Tracy Emin bedroom art-piece cluttered with typewriters and guitars, overlooking the view of Bournemouth.
After getting to know each other a bit more, we clink our cider bottles, light our cigarettes and begin the interview, Pete with his guitar on his lap.
So this is your second to last gig in the UK, have you had any gigs that have really stood out for you, you’ve thought “fuck me that was special”?
Yeah, normally you find it’s one that everyone agrees on, so you sort of go along with the flow like Manchester, after Manchester everyone was like “fucking hell that was amazing!”
Even if I had had a rough gig, which I don’t think I did, I’d be saying it was the best gig because everyone has a buzz from it. It’s normally a bit of a jinx for me Manchester, I always seem to have a mad time in Manchester, I either freak out and cancel it or I do something stupid and I go off stage and break my guitar, I don’t know what it is I always felt, a weird aggression in the air, I was a bit worried before hand but it was a belter.
I think I broke the duck finally, it was important for me, to be honest.
Glasgow, traditionally was always like, everyone always says it’s an amazing crowd, again I was worried with the arena, I thought “am I gonna dull the edges of it all?” You know when you’re in small venues you can take the edge off it but it hasn’t at all, its just been like, playing a really intimate gig, you know?
It’s hard. We were all a bit worried about… selling out or whatever, selling out as in selling your souls, not selling all the tickets. Which I don’t think has happened.
I heard about the Nottingham gig, after there was some fans outside and you did an intimate gig?
Oh yeah we did, yeah yeah.
How important is it for you to do personal, intimate gigs for your fans? Or does it just sort of happen, without really thinking about it?
Yeah, when you meet someone as you’re disappearing into the bus, someone who has been waiting there at the gig, they’ve got a lyric tattooed on their arm, and they look you in the eye and tell you they’ve been there for three hours, in the cold. What can you do?
And then by the time you’ve got some drinks off the bus and a guitar, relax a little bit, sometimes it can be a bit stressful meeting people all the time, the photos and that, then again it’s the ones who don’t want the photos, they just want to shake your hand or, I don’t know, tell you they love you.
I don’t know I do tend to get, we tend to get drawn in, it’s always spur of the moment, it’s not “we’ll meet you outside in the car park”. Most gigs we have just been like… I think we got as much from it as they did.
One girl she was there, she had to be at work at 6am, and it was already 1am, it was just really magical.
Takes us back a bit to the place where we started out, which is just to find people really, and bring people together, you know? That communal thing about music, you used to get it with football, stand up at football in unity.
More and more that’s the working class, its been eased out, I mean after those shootings in Paris, they made it illegal for a while to be gathered in a group with more than ten people, it’s not like a conspiracy theory like saying they’re using this to control people, but something like that, especially in a country like France, that’s like heavy stuff you know? Not to be allowed in a group of ten people you know…
You’re playing in Paris on your European tour aren’t you?
I live in France now, I have done for a few years, being told you know, that as a grown man, for example you can’t smoke a cigarette in your own car, to me there’s something a bit obscene about it, especially the bloke that made that law, Justice Taylor, I don’t think he’s ever stood up at a football match in his life, d’ya know what I mean?
“I need to feel there’s still that unity there”
I just find it strange that at the time, people didn’t do anything about it, just letting all of these laws pass, letting society change in these huge ways, it’s almost like these people are just vacant and numb to it, so gigs now, when you get that surge and you see that crowd, it’s just the music that’s powering it, kind of everything we set out to do, just to find people and bring them together and I love that.
Well lets face it, The Libertines have had a… let’s say ‘colourful’ career, I’m sure you’ve seen some things. At this point, what is it that makes you really buzz now?
From when you first started it was the fame and the fans, it was a new thing to you…
Yeah for a time we were really fame hungry, ‘fame hungry chancers’ we were once described as, that did kind of spur us on, things like that, fame, money – you cant deny it.
Now I feel it’s come to a place where I need to feel at one with the boys like. Especially Carl, I need to know that he trusts me and believes in me still, I need to feel the same about him, you know?
That’s what it’s really all about for me and it not being contrived, not feeling like we’re just doing it for the money, I need to feel there’s still that unity there and that friendship there, cause that’s something that’s been so messed up through the years, its hard to believe at first, that we were actually doing it for the right reasons.
When you’re playing arenas, there is a lot of money involved, there is a huge crew, all these buses. To turn around and cancel a pub gig last minute for example, is not such a big deal, to turn around and if I have to say ‘no I cant do this, I’m freaking out I cant do the gig’ I don’t know… there’s almost so much pressure now because there’s all this army…
And I know Carl will always just blame the drugs you know? And I need him to know that I’m there, and I can be relied on, when he said to me the other night that he had recognized a change and that he could see I was trying, it meant a lot, so yeah.
So can you tell me what went through your head before you were just about to announce the news about the band reforming?
I really wouldn’t know I couldn’t really remember… I suppose just hoping really, that people would be excited you know? I should give him a bell actually, get him down for the interview…
Pete fiddles with his smashed up iPhone and laughs at something he’s just remembered, he shows me a video of him and the boys on the tour bus partying in the early hours, it’s no wonder Carl is still in bed…
Also cause he does that Instagram thing, that thing you put photos up online on, so say when he came to visit me, before we got back together and announced the big gigs, he said “right I’m gonna put the photo’s up of us together” to see how people would react and to see the numbers of views or whatever, so I mean that was a big part of The Libertines cause it means a hell of a lot when people see…
This links on to another question, so obviously you had your first period of The Libertines, then you broke up then you came back again, social media is so powerful now, more powerful than ever, did you ever consciously notice that when you got back together?
I got well into putting stuff online in the early days of The Libertines, but I drifted away from it before social media all really started.
Like that guy on the street just now, said ”I’ll Tweet you” I went to make a point of saying “no, no I don’t do that” but Jai, turned around and made me look a right plonker and said “yes you do”, but he’s my manager, he does it all for me.
“You can create a perfect image of yourself and of your life”
So it’s a conscious thing not to do it, I feel, only personally I know its great for advertisement stuff, it dilutes things for me, I have got to be really wary of stuff like that, I know if I get into Facebook or something like that, it’s one of those things I know I’d spend too much time on it, it would distract and dilute everything I did, instead of writing a song, or living my life, id be writing about writing a song, or writing about my life instead of living it?
It doesn’t happen with the typewriter for example, so I kind of stay away from that a little bit, but I don’t think for a minute it’s going to go away, I can see the importance of it, its just this other world and I would never criticize it, its just basically another reality I wouldn’t dip my toe in.
You can create a perfect image of yourself and of your life, which is probably handy you know when you’re fifteen and you can create this new identity of yourself
I’ve seen it myself, it kind of terrifies me a bit, it will obviously never become obsolete it’s always gonna be there…
The first time I ever saw you was at Hyde Park, of course it’s The Libertines, it’s going to be mental, did you expect that? What was your reaction?
I don’t think we did, I think we were all absolutely shit scared that it was going to be a bit drab or something, we didn’t dare think that the park that we used to just busk in sometimes you know, or like hang around in.
I remember on Christmas day my dad took me and my sister down there, took the bus from my Nan’s down to Hyde Park, he took his tracksuit off and jumped into the fucking Serpentine and swam.
Hyde park is kind of special to me and to think that we’d do a gig there in front of sixty thousand people, it was amazing. I remember in the morning looking out the hotel window, looking out and seeing a lad, he had his ticket in his hand as well, he was just walking around in his union jack suit on, he had a wicked hair cut, I just thought this day is gonna be wicked, I thought this is what it’s all about, just bringing people together, basically just being part of someone’s Saturday, being a sound track to a few people’s lives or anybody’s life.
Was there not a slight sense of irritation when people kept climbing up the bell tower?
They didn’t stop the gig because of the lad on the bell tower, we were like “go on carry on man! Knock yourself out on the bell tower!” we loved that.
“It took me a little while to be able to stand up for myself.”
A guy died of a heart attack in the mosh pit before we came on and people were just being squashed and carried out unconscious, kids who’d never really been in a mosh pit before I don’t think, one girl was dressed in stilettoes and a tiny little skirt and she was like being handed over the top completely unconscious.
You just don’t go to gigs dressed like that, do you!
Probably not no, it wasn’t because of the bell tower though, Carl just made a comment about that it was because people just kept getting squashed. It was really, really dangerous at the front, older blokes just going ape and you mix that with loads of young kids.
They just kept saying, “stop the gig and tell them to move back!” and yeah we had one death.
So it’s been a journey, have you noticed a change of your crowds?
It’s really hard to predict it or to notice, it’s impossible, first of all the crowd seems to be staying young, in England and in a lot of places, it’s just a complete mix, I can remember kids, who are now coming with their kids, if I lock eyes with someone in the crowd that’s it I’ll forget the lyrics, I’ll just get drawn away, easily distracted.
So your new album title “Anthems for Doomed Youth” is that literal? Do you really think we’re doomed?
All youth by nature, it has to be doomed! There has to be a point where the youth ends, it doesn’t necessarily have to end in disaster, I don’t know it’s a little bit pessimistic isn’t it!
It’s still a beautiful world in many ways, but its also extremely fucked you know… you’re getting me all sad now! Just innocence being exploited is just the worst thing for me, something like bullying or taking advantage of someone its… I don’t know.
I kind of think when I was younger, at school when someone was being bullied or someone had a go at me I would never say I was ever a pussy but I was never someone who got walked all over, but sometimes I think its difficult to believe in yourself, it took me a little while to be able to stand up for myself.
I had to learn from certain people in my life, one of them was Carl as well he had this kind of ‘umph’, it was kind of attractive and a little bit sort of violence… violent people because I admired the way they could stand up for themselves, that can sometimes turn incredibly wrong but there’s a difference between an aggressor, and someone who wont back down.
I always really admired that in people, but its not a quality I really have, it took me a while to be able to… I think when I was younger, I used to get off a little bit on going to football matches and seeing violence, you know? It was quite an exciting thing, people get really turned on by it.
Growing up in Stoke yeah I’ve seen it, seen people fight over football as such, saw someone get bitten once
I got bit on the lip once, in Wolverhampton I think it was, by a bloke yeah! It was really strange yeah, it was really strange.
That must have fucking hurt!
Yeah he had already head-butted me, cause I was wearing black nail varnish, and he really took it personally, but he really took it personally like I’d done something wrong, I hadn’t done anything!
When Pete and I first met he found out about my middle name being Tuesday after The Stones, he begins to sing the lyrics and we’re mislead into a conversation about our family tree’s.
Are you fully British?
I am but there’s Irish in there, my Dad’s Dad was Irish, and my Mum she’s from Liverpool, her mum and dad are from Liverpool but my great grandmother was Russian. So Irish and Russian.
His hat is placed on top of my phone and we switch from interviewing to exchanging favorite songs.
I show him Grinder man and he show’s me The Beautiful South, there’s a strong sense of friendship formed as we chill out and finish our drinks.
There’s a knock at the door and Carl Barat walks in, we exchange hugs and the pair dissolve into conversation about their last gig.
It’s time for Pete to get some rest, Carl is off to see his family and I’m off to get ready to watch the band, wearing the biggest smile I’ve mustered up in a long, long time.
Having had the chance to spend a few hours with one of my biggest idols, on of the kindest, most expressive and captivating person I have ever had the privilege of knowing.
Interview by Ruby Tuesday Munslow