The band are back and bigger than ever. And yet so many questions remain unanswered. Enter Rhian Daly…
They ‘coptered in and stole Glastonbury 2015 with the set of the weekend. They rampaged through Camden playing tiny shows and invading stages like 2003 never ended. Their headline set owned Reading and Leeds Festivals and their comeback album ‘Anthems For Doomed Youth’ raised the good ship Albion from the depths and sailed it on to glory. As Pete, Carl, Gary and John just keep on getting bigger, so too do the mysteries surrounding them. Here are the questions the fans want answered.
What was Pete’s recent ‘medical emergency’?
On September 10, Pete failed to show up for a gig at the Electric Ballroom in Camden citing a medical emergency, and fans were left with a familiar pang of disappointment. But fear not, no legs were lost nor bandmates walloped. According to the official statement, Pete suffered a “serious anxiety attack” in the lead-up to the show, fleeing to Coventry to be near friends in his support network. The Libs’ on-tour drug counsellor, Dylan Kerr, provides context: “Anxiety is purely a psychological experience and the person must do whatever is necessary to arrest those feelings. It is a good thing that Peter is trying to live a normal life, as these are the reactions to stress that you’re taught to use in rehab – avoid the stress and resume some normality.” The plan is for Pete to return home to France between band engagements, to provide the normality required to keep The Libs’ show on the road.
Is Pete still struggling with his addictions?
Before The Libertines recorded ‘Anthems…’ Pete was undergoing rehab in Thailand, where he met drug counsellor Dylan Kerr. When the band entered Karma Sound studios in Bang Saray, Kerr went along to talk to the band about how to help a now-clean Pete. “It was good to have someone whose focus was solely helping Peter,” says Carl, speaking before the abandoned Electric Ballroom show. “I’ve been around [addiction] for years in different capacities – I’ve been to meetings for my own sanity as well. There was a bit where Dylan said, ‘When Pete does all these things, think about yourselves.’ That kind of thinking’s quite new to me, and it’s proved helpful about my own tolerance and recognising whether it’s the addict or the addiction speaking.” Dylan’s been on the road with the band in the UK, too. “It’s been great,” says Carl. “It takes a little bit of heat off me, to be honest. Someone else to do the worrying. I still do the lion’s share, though, don’t worry.”
Will their 2016 arena tour go ahead as planned?
With Pete safely back in the saddle for a Berlin date two days after his anxiety attack, the Camden no-show seems like a minor wobble. Carl scoffs at the suggestion that touring with the band could still be difficult these days, since they’re hardly top-and-tailing it on fans’ sofas any more. “We’ve got a fucking fleet of buses and private jets,” he laughs. “Pete’s insistent on driving around in his boo boo mobile. It’s like a little caravan. That’s good ’cos it gives him some space.” And The Libertines, for the most part, have usually done a good job of proving the doubters wrong. “Everybody thought we were going to die, which we didn’t. Just yet, touch wood.”
Do their fans still care?
Oh, big time. The online reaction to the Electric Ballroom no-show was full of sympathy and concern. Some fans claimed not to have slept through worry.
How did the new album go down?
After receiving 4-star reviews from Mojo and The Guardian and a deeply considered 7/10 from NME, ‘Anthems…’ went on to chart at Number Three. Not quite the dizzy heights of The Libertines’ chart-topping self-titled album in 2004, but impressive considering they were doing battle with such rock heavyweights as Bring Me The Horizon and Iron Maiden.
Will they make another one?
Pete’s said he’d like to get on with writing songs for a potential fourth album as soon as possible. Carl considers the idea “lovely” but isn’t as quick to make such clear proclamations, claiming he can’t think “more than 40 seconds ahead” at the moment.
Are Pete and Carl still mates?
Whereas their relationship was once volatile, things have settled down between the two in later life, thanks in large part to the pair keeping a respectful distance. Pete now lives near Paris while Carl remains in London – a positive development for both their relationship and their songwriting. “We’ve spent so long apart, I think we’d get on each other’s tits,” Carl reasons. “He’s got his kids and his missus and his life, and I’ve got mine. When we’re together we’re the same boys. We’re who we always were with each other, for each other. With songwriting, we bring more to the table.”