All aboard the good ship

The Libertines: Gary Powell, John Hasnell, Carl Barat and Pete Doherty
The Libertines: Gary Powell, John Hasnell, Carl Barat and Pete Doherty

Pete Doherty and Carl Barat’s
volatile relationship spectacularly imploded at the peak of the Libertines’
success in 2004.

The duo always felt that the band were teetering on the brink of self-destruction, so when the inevitable happened in December that year after two and half years together, it came as no surprise.

The Libertines were a breath of fresh air when they first exploded on the music scene in the early noughties, and as Carl himself puts it, “gave fans some kind of ideology and a sense of belonging.”

Following the split, it was always a will they, won’t they on whether they would ever get back together.

Despite headlining Reading and Leeds Festival in 2010, the reunion was short-lived.

“We looked at each other, freaked out and then ran away again,” Pete recalled.

But then the unthinkable happened. The Libertines announced they were releasing their first album in 11 years, aptly titled ‘Anthems for Doomed Youth’, along with a string of shows billed as a “week of shenanigans” in September.

Now Carl and Pete along with bassist John Hassall and drummer Gary Powell, have put aside their personal differences and wowed critics with their new material and are gearing up for their biggest tour so far including a date at Glasgow’s Hydro Arena on January 21.

Not straying far from the limelight, Pete had some success with Babyshambles and Carl with Dirty Pretty Things and The Jackals, it was after a successful headline slot at Hyde Park last year that they first toyed with doing a new album.

“I was getting treatment for my various enthusiasms in Thailand when Carl appeared with a notion to record some new music together,” he said.

The songs were recorded over a five-week period at Thailand’s Karma Sound Studios.

“It was ridiculous!” Carl said of the unusual settings. “Recording in 40 degree heat and 100 per cent humidity with scorpions and pit vipers. It was great to have that tranquillity and time to ourselves.

“If the new stuff was just noise,” Carl continued. “There were old songs we could have revisited, but luckily we didn’t need to.”

It was new single ‘Gunga Din’ that proved the Libertines were back on top form and had returned to shake up the “goody two shoes music scene” as Pete put it.

“The title is from a Rudyard Kipling poem,” Carl said,
before quoting: “Though I’ve belted you and flayed you. By the livin’ Gawd that made you. You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!”

Now that friendships have been rekindled, has enough been done to restore the band to its former glory?

“Not quite,” Doherty said. “It was a row that took a decade to get over, but we’ve made a start, but something else has to happen. Some extraordinary twist I think!”

Carl is slightly more level-headed, though: “Let’s put the cataclysmic things on standby for now,” he said. “You and me Pete, we’re just going to stay on the tracks.

“We’re off on our biggest ever live tour in the new year. It’s been a hell of a joyride so far with our fans, so what do you say to another twirl? We’ll have a few surprises along the way.”

The Libertines are back at their shambolic best. For how long who knows, let’s just
enjoy it while we can.

For tickets, visit the website at