Freestyle rap and ‘Sandinista’ – Pete Doherty tells us what’s going on with The Libertines’ new album

“Carl was like ‘right, we’re gonna freestyle’. I was like ‘We’re fucking not’"

Pete Doherty has revealed that The Libertines are currently exploring a number of ambitious directions on new material, likening it to the diversity of The Clash‘s divisive ‘Sandinista’.

Watch our full interview with Doherty above

Speaking to NME for a new and in-depth interview, Doherty confirmed that the band had been working on the long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s ‘Anthems For Doomed Youth‘ at the studio in their new Albion Rooms Hotel in Margate – and that there was a hip-hop influence on some tracks.


“Carl turned up the studio the other day with this Beastie Boys beat,” Doherty told NME. “He was like ‘right, we’re gonna freestyle’. I was like ‘We’re fucking not’. Anyway, half a bottle of vodka later we did and somehow this absolutely diabolical screaming and ranting thing, which was our take on freestyle rap, has been turned into this quite amazing… It’s not even a pastiche, it’s a fucking good song.”

The Libertines’ Pete Doherty and Carl Barat

Responding to drummer Gary Powell’s previous comments that he didn’t feel that ‘Anthems For Doomed Youth’ felt as “special” as the band’s previous two albums, Doherty defended the record but agreed that it lacked the urgency of its predecessors.

“If those songs were recorded in the same atmosphere as the first two albums, he wouldn’t have said that. It’s just because of the way they are and the way they sound,” said Doherty. “It wasn’t rushed, that album. People spent too much time tinkering with it probably – whereas Mick Jones just used to go ‘Right, that’ll do. C’Mon Eastenders is on in a minute’.”

In their attempt to recapture the raw energy of their early days, Doherty said that they opened up writing sessions beyond himself and Carl Barat – only to discover a wealth of great material written by Powell and bassist John Hassall.

“We tried with the four of us to get in there and do that thing that Gary is talking about,” Doherty told NME. “I came with this idea where we’d have an hour each, and if it’s working we’d stick on that. We ended up with some of these songs that Gary had written, and they’re amazing songs. Not that I didn’t rate Gary as a songwriter, but I’d never taken the time to listen to his songs. They’re outrageous, they’re amazing.”


He continued: “Then John had these amazing songs as well; that he’d written, finished, had lyrics for. One of them is called ‘Annabel Lee’ or ‘I’ve Got The Melody’. I had to destroy that file because it’s an amazing song. Then me and Carl were like ‘Hang on, we haven’t got any amazing songs that are finished. How did we do it before?’”

The Libertines
The Libertines (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)

As a result of the breadth of the new material presented, Doherty said that there are two potential types of album on the table – likening one to the multitude of genres presented on The Clash’s fourth album, ‘Sandinista’.

“Carl wants to do a ‘Sandinista’ thing with all these mad ideas that we’ve got, so we’ll have all these freestyle things and folky things, then there’s the more traditional Doherty/Barat songs,” Doherty said. “I don’t think the Gary and John songs are part of that, because they’re really, really strong songs.

“There’s one Libertines album which is really strong songs, which means me and Carl have got to buck up and do our parts for, then there’s this other album which is four musicians all pulling in different ways and we just do a 25 track album.

Doherty went on: “It’s all very positive, but it’s been murder getting to that because I was very unsettled and uncomfortable for those first sessions. I didn’t know that everyone else was, but it turns out that there was great results from that. Everyone came out going ‘What the fuck’s going on with this band, right?’”

The Libertines
The Libertines

As for tensions between himself and Carl Barat, the Babyshambles man said they had found new ways to compromise within their often fractious relationship.

“Carl has got this new give and take approach, as opposed to ‘I can’t be near you if you haven’t slept’ – which is silly, really. Truth be told, he’s worse than me. I’m the one who tries to keep it all calm and keeps him working,” Doherty told NME.

“The other night he made me sit down and listen while he played me ‘Now That’s What I Call Music 14’. I think it was 14, it might have been 9. It’s that one with Eddie Cochran’s ‘C’Mon Everybody’. There was Carl in his dressing gown, dancing along. A bit of Pet Shop Boys too, a bit of Jive Bunny And The Master Mixers, maybe. Oh yeah, then he asked me to get out of his room.

He added: “I made the mistake of reading Carl’s journal. I was looking for a plectrum, I swear I was, and I ended up finding his journal in his bag. It broke my heart. He was like ‘Pete is putting drugs before the band’, so I went and got clean.”

While Doherty has just released his debut album with new band The Puta Madres, The Libertines have also recently confirmed their first show of 2019. The band will be heading to Coventry on August 3 as they take top billing on the first day of the Coombe Weekender, performing alongside Tom Grennan, Circa Waves and many more.

Doherty also spoke to NME about mortality and turning 40, what ‘Albion’ means to him in the Brexit era and his “fascination” with drugs and prison as well as facing up to headlines from his troubled past.

Watch our full and in-depth video with Doherty at the top of the page, as he talks to us about music, drugs, rebirth, the Puta Mudres and what the future holds. 

Peter Doherty & The Puta Madres’ upcoming UK and European tour dates are below. Visit here for tickets and more information.


3 Friday: Belfast – Limelight
4 Saturday: Dublin – The Academy 
5 Sunday: Bristol – O2 Academy 
7 Tuesday: Glasgow – Barrowland Ballroom
8 Wednesday: Leeds – Stylus
9 Thursday: Manchester – O2 Ritz
11 Saturday: Nottingham – Rock City
12 Sunday: London – O2 Forum Kentish Town
15 Wednesday: Paris (FRANCE) – Bataclan
16 Thursday: Antwerp (BELGIUM) – Trix
17 Friday: Cologne (GERMANY) – Kantine 
19 Sunday: Berlin (GERMANY) – Astra Kulturhaus
20 Monday: Vienna (AUSTRIA) – WUK
21 Tuesday: Munich (GERMANY) – Backstage Werk
23 Thursday: Zurich (SWITZERLAND) – X-Tra
24 Friday: Fribourg (SWITZERLAND) – Fri-Son