Carl Barât (The Libertines): “Now we got the option to start a new chapter.”von Christian Ihle
Umtriebig ist er, der gute Carl. Ein Soloalbum, seine “Memoiren” über die Libertines-Zeit, einige Soundtrackarbeiten und dazu noch erste Schritte als Schauspieler haben die letzten Monate des vernünftigen Libertine geprägt. Ach, und so eine kleine Reunion vor 50.000 Menschen, die war auch noch vor einigen Monaten…
Am Tag nach seinem Solo-Auftritt in Hamburg treffen wir Carl Barât zu einem Gespräch in Berlin. Auch wenn das Interview um 15.00 Uhr nachmittags angesetzt war, kein Grund für einen echten Libertine nicht verschlafen und hangover zu sein…
Berlin, 3 p.m.
Carl Barât: Excuse me, I woke up quite recently…
You played in Hamburg yesterday…. How was your gig last night?
Carl Barât: It was good, by the end it was amazing. Hamburg got a quite relaxed crowd and it was a Monday night but by the end of the gig we got them going. It was quite a challenge, Monday is a difficult time.
And in that dressing room in the bunker (in der Konzertlocation Uebel & Gefaehrlich, Anm.) there was a sign above the door that reads “Hallo Munich!”, so you walk out, greeting Munich in Hamburg… but I didn’t do it. *laughs*
You’ve worked as an actor, wrote a book, played in two bands and just released your first solo album – what did you enjoy the most?
Carl Barât: Probably the new record.
And is there anything you won’t do again?
Carl Barât: What was it again?
Eh, you worked as an actor, wrote a book, played in two bands and just released your first solo album…
Carl Barât: Oh, eh, yeah! I wouldn’t mind doing a little more acting, but I don’t try to be a real actor.
I saw you acting in that movie about Joe Meek called Telstar. It was your first real role in a movie, wasn’t it? How did you like it?
Carl Barât: It was pretty fucking scary, really weird. I spend ages to work on the character (Carl played the 50ies rockstar Gene Vincent) and in my head it was like “It’s massive! It’s a Joe Meek biopic in which I star!” and then I came to the set and they just said “go on, say your lines and get off”. I did my lines once, very nervously, and it was just “Cut! Move on!” – maybe next time it’s gonna be better…
You wrote some songs for the soundtrack of the new Russel Brand movie (“Get Him To The Greek” / “Männertrip”). How did that happen?
Carl Barât: We were at Russels house one day, we were checking on Russels progress, on his world domination… His house gets bigger and bigger and bigger each time I visit. He got a house at Hampstead *quietly: which is a pretty nice area of London!* and he got a hairstylist, and a masseuse and a hot tub with a TV in it… he’s a lucky man! And he asked me if I wanna write a couple of songs for his new movie. Jarvis Cocker wrote some as well.
Many songs on your solo album are co-written. Do you prefer working with others and do enjoy more being in a band? so why did you set out to do a solo album in the first place?
Carl Barât: I do like working with other people. If you say to me “do your stuff”, then I’m gonna do it later on, but if I got a person opposite of me, then I’m doing it now.
How did you get involved with Neil Hannon of Divine Comedy?
Carl Barât: He’s just a friend of a friend. I’ve never met him, but he said we should try something. So when I was in Dublin, I met up with him. It was really nice and we got on very well. I stayed two days at his house: one day writing, one day recording.
You wrote & recorded “The Fall” in two days? It’s my favourite song on the new record.
Carl Barât: Yeah, two days for writing and recording a demo. It’s one of my favourite ones as well.
When you write with other people, is there one of them writing the lyrics and the other one writing the music?
Carl Barât: I wrote about 95% of the lyrics on the record, the music was more of a collaboration.
You wrote your biography…
Carl Barât: Memoir.
Ok, you wrote your memoirs…
Carl Barât: Just one memoir! I’m gonna write more memoirs when I’m gonna get older *laughs*
I thought it was different to other rock star biographies, it was more honest and humble…
Carl Barât: Did you read it?
Yes, of course. It was neither like that “showing off thing” other rock stars tend to do in their biography nor was it like “oh look at me, I’m a fallen angel”… it was a really enjoyable read.
Carl Barât: Thank you, it’s the same with the new record. I wrote them for myself, without any audience in mind. It may sound pretty selfish but on the second Dirty Pretty Things record I wrote what I thought people wanted – of course afterwards everyone said “we don’t want it” *laughs* – but I wrote the book and the new record just for myself. It’s like a catharsis, a way to move on. And because I wrote it for myself… I just don’t have to show off to myself.
It read more like someone who is writing on his own in the middle of the night – “diary” would be a wrong term to describe it, but it doesn’t read like it was in your mind that it’s gonna get published in a way.
Carl Barât: That’s cool. And it really is honest.
…and because it’s pretty honest in some parts, did you sent it to people who actually are in the book like Gary (Powell, Drummer of Dirty Pretty Things and The Libertines) or Peter (Doherty, singer of The Libertines)?
Carl Barât: Ehm, *talks quietly* no……
I think I am pretty fair in the book. Of course I was paranoid that people are gonna be upset but then I read it again and again and I was confident that I am telling my story and not selling other peoples stories. Gary isn’t mentioned very much but he comes across as nice as he actually is. I made sure that I pointed out that Gary didn’t take any drugs and that sort of thing. I did let the boys of Dirty Pretty Things read it and they were like “oh, well, we’re gonna have to phone our mums…” but they were very gracious.
Did Peter talk to you about the book since it was released?
Carl Barât: I don’t think Peter is bothered by the book. I don’t think he even read it.
Do you fancy writing another book? Fiction, maybe?
Carl Barât: I think I’m gonna write again, but I’m not gonna rush it. They say “everyone got one novel in them…”
You did the book, the solo album, the gigs with Libertines in the summer… what are you up to next?
Carl Barât: Oh, I’m gonna have a baby in december, right after this tour is finished. So I’m gonna take some responsibility and then I’ll come back and play the album again. Then I don’t know, but probably a new record.
Do you think you’re gonna write on your own?
Carl Barât: Well, I’ll start on my own. “So long, my lover” was the first song I wrote for this record, but I still don’t have any confidence at all so I put it away. At the end of the sessions I said to the producer “I got this song as well” and he said “we have to put that on the record! You should’ve written more of these kind of songs”… so I’m gonna try next time.
You still got confidence issues? You are now in the music business for about 10 years and you were playing on a stage with the Libertines for years before…
Carl Barât: YES! Weird thing! But I generally got a lot confidence problems.
I’m gonna have to ask you, being a Libertines-fan since the What A Waster days, how was it for you personally to play these pretty big gigs? I went to the reunion gigs at the Forum in London and at the Leeds Festival.
Carl Barât: It was great. I though we came full circle, Libertines got cut short before we could play these kind of gigs. I’m glad they went well. The potential of the band was always questioned by people… if The Libertines were capable to play gigs of that size.
And now we got the option to start a new chapter. So that’s a nice option to have. I don’t know if and when we’re gonna take it up, but…
…so you definitely see it as an option to start a new chapter with The Libertines? Not just doing this kind of reunion, rehashing former glories…
Carl Barât: I think we probably gonna play a few more gigs, playing the same sort of thing, but I wouldn’t keep doing that. Every band is doing a reunion and we would never get together and do an “Up The Bracket” tour for three years around the world.
I think it would be pretty terrible if you would do it, everything has a time and place. Which of the three Libertines reunion gigs did you enjoy the most?
Carl Barât: Leeds probably.
When I was at Leeds, Arcade Fire were on as headliner right afterwards and it was astonishing: Libertines attracted a crowd twice the size of Arcade Fire who are probably the biggest Indie-Rock-Band on the planet right now. Beforehand I was kinda afraid how the crowd would react to The Libertines… but everyone seemed to love watching The Libertines, nobody was hassling you.
Carl Barât: I was expecting more negativity as well. But a lot of people, especially in England, have a personal connection with the band, like it’s “their band”. And that’s one of the reasons why it worked so well. They wanted to have that special moment so much, so they made it happen. Everyone was so full of positivity for that moment. It was just *wooohoo* for me! That was a perfect moment.
Now my 15 minutes are over…
Carl Barât: …no, just go on, you are actually really nice. Usually I get very depressed with the press. Occassionally, *impersonates a thick & cocky journalist* you get people like “So! How’s Pete! Why this soloalbum? Why?” – and I’m just thinking “Oh fuck off, man”…
…I was worrying If I should ask you about Libertines at all… you put out your solo album, so the last thing you wanna talk about is a reunion gig with your last band.
Carl Barât: No, go on. Especially in England the press does, like, an hour interview, they ask you stuff like “What hurt you the most?”, they really go deep and at the end they gonna ask this one question “Are The Libertines over?”, and when you look at the piece in the papers it’s one big city headline about one thing you said “LIBERTINES NOT OVER!”… or you get this tiny little picture with a text that reads “Carl Barat doesn’t like soup” *laughs*
Quite recently I did interviews for 14 hours one day so I was getting in a bad mood at the end…
On your solo album you’ve chosen a fully fleshed-out sound. I’d have expected more of an acoustic sound, maybe like “France”, the hidden track on the second Libertines record. Why did you chose to record it that way? It’s neither sounding like Dirty Pretty Things nor like an acoustic singer-songwriter one…
Carl Barât: I just tried to be different, really. Because the guitars are so loud in The Libertines the storytelling isn’t as elaborate as it could be, but if you take out the guitars like on the solo album you got no choice because the words stand out much more. But on the other hand there’s so much more you can colour them with.
I think it’s an interesting decision, cause none of the other frontmen going solo sounded like you. Kele of Bloc Party did his Dance/Electro-Album, Paul Smith of Maximo Park did an acoustic, very low key one and Peters soloalbum was more or less an acoustic one as well. I guess it’s more bold to do it your way.
Carl Barât: And I hope it worked out alright…
(Interview: Christian Ihle)
* Telstar – Die Joe Meek Story
* Das Soloalbum “Carl Barât” ist bereits erschienen
* Sein Buch “Three Penny Memoir” ist bisher nur in England erhältlich (aber wirklich sehr zu empfehlen!)
Weiterlesen über The Libertines, Doherty & Barât:
Teil 1: Time For Heroes, Anfang 2005
Teil 2: Up The Bracket, Oktober 2002
Teil 3: The Gang Of Gin. And Milk., April 2006
Teil 4: Why Did You Break My Heart?, Mai 2006
Teil 5: Anywhere In Albion, September 2006
Teil 6: König wider Willen, Februar 2007
Teil 7: Das Ende des Konjunktivs, Oktober 2007
Teil 8: Narziss und Goldkind, Juli 2009
Interview mit Carl Barât über seine Lieblingsplatten:
* My Favourite Records mit Carl Barât
* Peter Doherty – Grace/Wastelands
* Peter Doherty – Last Of The English Roses EP
* The Libertines – Best Of
* Babyshambles – Shotters Nation
* Die zehn besten Alben 2009
* Peter Doherty: Books Of Albion
* Dirty Pretty Things: Romance At Short Notice
* What Became Of The Likely Lads: Frontreihenbericht von den Reunion-Gigs
* Two Days Doherty: was bleibt nach der Hymne?
* Pete – wie es wirklich war. Der Doherty und die Hymne.
* Pete Doherty solo in Berlin (2009, BerlinFestival)