lady libertines

Rock & Folk French interview, oct 2015

Thanks albion-sails-on-course for uploading the article! There’s also a presentation of the band with the usual facts and a bit more, I can translate it too if you want me to. Hope my English isn’t too bad… (also the part about the Milkman’s Horse is a mess but even the interviewer didn’t know the hell P&C were talking about)

Rock & Folk: Was it easy to get back working together?
Carl Barat: (in French) Yes
Peter Doherty: Yes yes yes
CB:  Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s not… C'est la vie.
PD: (in broken French) It’s life, it’s thing! He and I, we get bored, I do the writing… Arcady, I don’t know, life, head, heart…
CB: To impregnate time in spirit, the spirit of Arcady. It’s me, it’s my life, forever. (back to English). Well, I’m usually told I speak French well.
On the table, an unknown phone beeps. ‘Whose phone is it?’ asks Carl before taking it and announcing ‘It’s Jake Bugg!“ to an incredulous Peter.  He reads the text, in which Jake talks about a “quite hip hop” song to a journalist he calls ‘lady’. The libertines try to find a way to call Jake, probably to apologize for their indiscretion, but to everyone’s disappointment, it’s impossible without the PIN code.
After the phone has been given back, the interview resumes, but Jake’s shadow will hang over the interview…

R&F: Why have you recorded You’re My Waterloo again?
CB: I think it was necessary to do it right. It’s the version we want to show the world. (Peter sings You’re My Waterloo, Carl Lightning Bolt and Seen It All by Jake Bugg, then Gunga Din.)

R&F: Why have you asked Jake Gosling to produce the album?
PD: Good question, it’s the third time we’re asked that today. It was Carl’s decision, he made a list and it must have been the easiest name to spell.
CB: I also tought of Jake Bugg… I met him [Jake Gosling]in London and he was a great guy, with a passion for music and he didn’t try to prove me anything. I thought: let’s do this album with him.

R&F: Did you want to find a different sound? The first two albums weren’t overproduced…
CB: It’s a good producer, he made us sound like the band we are. That’s what we wanted, that’s what we had with Jake and that’s what we had with Mick Jones. When I heard what lots of other producers do….  I want to write songs that sound like me, not like the Velvet Underground or Guns N'Roses.
PD:  (whispering) they’re shit… (louder) You just have to make it up as you go. Give us a real question.
CB: Should I shave my head?

R&F: It depends on the shape of your head… The album could have been named Hallelujah Day. And it’s mentioned in two songs: Belly Of the Beast and Heart Of the Matter. Why?
CB: You’re better than that German journalist from earlier, he acted like he was our best friend and wouldn’t stop talking.
PD:  He’s going to meet Keith Richards next week.
CB: Yeah, good luck Keith. I wanted to name it Hallelujah Day and…
PD: He asked 'So how was the studio?’ and then he said 'Next week I’ll talk to Keith Richards’. You know, with someone like Keith, you can’t ask how was the studio or who was the producer…
CB: We couln’t say anything.
PD: So Hallelujah Day, it’s tomorrow, isn’t it.
CB: It’s the day you find a moment of sobriety…
PD: A moment of redemption, of forgiveness. Of Salvation. It’s the opposite of 'Doomsday’.
CB: When we made the album all was well, and this title stayed for a while, but it was a bit evangelistic. We remembered who we were, what we wanted to do and the reasons why we were writing… and also that we were making music that was doomed, in a way. So Anthems For Doomed Youth… it refers to a poem, but it’s not negative, it’s a gift, with a toning effect. To relieve the pain it comes with. Youth is doomed because it ends.

R&F: Is it a nostalgic record?
CB: All this music takes you somewhere, and this place comes from all the places you went to. It’s about our timeless friendship and our desperate forevers: from birth to death, we live and compose with that. There’s a time we can call nostalgia, but it’s a nostalgia for the future.

R&F: Arcadia and Albion aren’t mentioned…
CB: It’s true. Not even once.

R&F: But there are allusions to boat travelling in Belly of The Beast:
CB: It’s me trying to be negative…

R&F: There are a lot of bursts of anger from you in this album…
CB: Anger consumes everything… Like fire, it can destoy the world or cook your dinner.

R&F: What are the totally new songs? Barbarians for example, reminds me of a song by Peter, Natives At the Gates Of Rome….
CB: Give us the tracklist and I’ll tell you.
PD: I found a demo produced by Alan Wass… Do you know for Alan? It’s a horrible, isn’t it? I heard the Daily Mail wrote an article with his mother talking about me, and it’s bullshit, it’s really depressing.
CB: What do they say?
PD: Bullshit. I didn’t even have the heart to read it. I’ve just heard of it. They interviewed his mother and took thing out of their context. The only occasion I met his mother was his wedding and I was his best man. I’ve always believed in Alan, as a songwriter, always. He was in the highest room of the hospital, a very Victorian room. She said it’s a pity he’s dead because he would have loved the room. She believes in life after death, she has been raised as a Mormon. While we’re in France, talking about Alan, I have to point that in our recordings never published by Rough Trade, there were four songs: two were later published in The Libertines, and Through the Looking Glass, on the Japanese edition of Grace/Wasteland with Graham Coxon on guitar. A version a bit too fast in fact, Alan’s version was better (sigh).Yesterday I watched our interview for T in the Park and Carl, you look so upset with me, it’s bullshit…

R&F: What songs are about your relationship?
PD: The Milkman’s Horse: it was a challenge for Carl, because he was determined to not let it be my song, so he changed my chorus and totally rewrote the verses, with the most eloquent and expressive lines he has ever written.
CB: It’s about people who walk under ladders, heroin, and the difficulty to understand it if you’re not into it. It’s also dedicated to all these people who can’t share or express this beauty…
PD: Maybe to push back the world, and, let’s be honest, it’s a desolate place. But from the inside, there’s this breath taking cinematic beauty.
CB: Sometimes it’s because of fear, and sometimes because it’s impossible, and there’s so much of yourself dying, it’s like burning thousands of films.
PD: We played at the Monarch just before the Vines and the Strokes and people showed up because the media speak of us as a trendy band. They didn’t come for the music, but then Alan and his fucking mates came to our shows in Camden, laughing at hipsters. Sometimes it was more to fight than to dance, but a bit of action was good! I remember Jean Paul dancing on Boys In The Band. We had never seen anything like that. We would have the guy with his dog, doing crosswords, or these hipsters  who were there because we were the new band to see, but there also was this new generation of kids who needed music to function. And Alan was one of them, he was simply obsessed with music. And he was finally reaching something, after ten years playing in a van, like us but for a lot longer… He finally got signed and he died two weeks later. It’s a drag. He would always say that his dream was horse riding in the streets of London, this cowboy thing. And he did it: at his funeral, his hearse was pulled by horses.. Hey, can I do a review of Carl and the Jackals’ gig for Rock'n'Folk? It’s tomorrow in Belgium.

R&F:What is the inspiration behind Iceman? Is it a dealer, a killer?
CB: It’s about a young boy and a young girl who found love in the city… I’ll give you a tip: I worked at the Old Vic when The Iceman Cometh was played. The song starts there. The icema, it’s a man called Hickey, in the 1910s in New York, in a bar full of hookers. The iceman is the one who sends you off to sleep. You can be a normal person working 9 to 5 or spending “your days in the haze with the iceman”.
PD: I later discovered iceman means killer in American. Also Glasgow Coma Scale gives its name to a song. We learn things, spending some time in the emergency ward in Glasgow…

R&F: About the video…
CB:  The video is what it is. Libertines fans like myths and symbols, but it would be against the Libertines not to tell the truth. And the truth, it’s four people who met in Thailand to sing something they really felt about. We live in the moment, and that moment didn’t include dragons or any vision of Arcadia. It was sincere. We weren’t trying to recreate a myth.

R&F: We were talking about the documentary, the one to which you gave the password, Peter… It ends with 'I forgive you if you fogive me’…
PD: Oh, the documentary that has been leaked online… I gave the password but then I took it back because it made me feel really bad…
CB: Wait, what are you talking about?

R&F: (laughing) You gave the password and it’s Roger who changed it, anyway…
PD: (laughing) Shut up!
CB: Fuck, you didn’t do it, did you? After all those juridic things…

R&F: It has been cancelled very quickly, no more than fifty people could have seen it…
PD: 43
CB: You uploaded the documentary!
PD: But I was really drunk… I feel really guilty. Sorry. It’s good, that documentary, isn’t it? And it says that, yeah: 'I forgive you if you forgive me"…

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