Barât home boys

EMMA LEE Dirty Pretty Things, fronted by Pete Doherty’s erstwhile writing partner Carl Barât, play Norwich UEA on Wednesday. Emma Lee spoke to drummer Gary Powell, who still considers himself a Libertine.

EMMA LEE

There are few bands who have had the same sort of devoted following as the Libertines managed during their short existence. And at the group's heart, and the cause of most of the fascination, was the relationship between the band's two frontmen - Pete Doherty and Carl Barât.

As close as brothers, their romantic, sleazy tales about a place called Albion struck a chord - and their chaotic live shows were as much about their troubled dynamic as the music.

The mayhem produced some memorable songs, but it couldn't last - by summer 2004 Pete was missing in action and Carl and the rest of the band toured for six months without him.


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And then, with just two albums under their belts, the Libertines were no more.

Pete went on to form Babyshambles - whose musical output has been somewhat outshadowed by his relationship with a certain supermodel and his drug-related brushes with the law.

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Carl took some time off to recharge his batteries and write some songs. Then Libertines drummer Gary Powell and stand-in guitarist Anthony Rossomando and Didz Hammond, bassist with the Cooper Temple Clause, were recruited and Dirty Pretty Things was formed.

Last autumn they tested the new material about as far away from Libertines and Pete-mania as you could get - Brazil, which was followed in November by recording sessions with Jet and Oasis producer Dave Sardy. They then finished off the debut album, Waterloo to Anywhere, in Glasgow with Tony Doogan, who has worked with the likes of Belle and Sebastian and Mogwai.

Gary, speaking from his sickbed, says that Dirty Pretty Things are more of a “band” than the Libertines were. Gary originally hooked up with Carl and Pete when he took what he calls a “leap of faith” and moved to London. He met the pair in a pub.

“It was really good fun - they were like street urchins. Johnny Borrell [of Razorlight] was with us at that time as well. I'd been doing music for a long time, but being in a band wasn't foremost in my mind.”

Does it annoy him that people still ask him about the Libertines?

“I still consider myself to be a Libertine,” he says.

“With the Libertines there wasn't really anyone pulling in the reins. It might not be as exciting, but there are improvements from the Libertines - the quality of the recording is better.

“In this band we're more of a unit, a single ensemble, which is a major difference. Because of press, and management to some extent, people saw the band as being Pete and Carl and then John [Hassall, bassist] and I sat at the back. And it was carried over into real life. There was never that feeling of unity.”

It sounds like Gary is enjoying making music free from the added attention that Pete's presence brought.

“The energy between Pete and Carl was infamous at shows and sometimes overshadowed the music and the performance,” he says.

“I think that some people did go to shows to find out what would happen next. With Dirty Pretty Things there's not going to be a great deal of wackiness.

“Performing on stage is great - I get in to arguments with the guys about this. They say you don't have to have an ego to get up on stage - I disagree, I think there's no way anybody can do anything creative without there being a bit of positive ego - to give you that push to perform. I think that meeting new people and learning new things is really important.

“That's why I'm looking forward to the tour - I'm going to be meeting a plethora of new people all with a completely different story to tell and a different approach to life. You're not going to get that in an office, you'll see the same people day after day.

“There are lots of artists out there that are really talented. But it's not about collaborating with major stars - it's about meeting like-minded souls that are good at what they do,” he says.

And does he see Pete very often?

“I haven't seen him in a while,” Gary says. “I saw him last September in Paris. He had an entourage - Kate Moss was with him, the Pet Shop Boys, Elton John's boyfriend. It was good seeing him - I don't think that any of us hold any malice against him.”

t Dirty Pretty Things play UEA, Norwich, on Wednesday December 13. Support comes from Mando Diao and Hot Club De Paris. Tickets - returns only, 01603 508050

t The band support the Make Roads Safe campaign. Three of their teenage fans, sisters Claire and Jennifer Stoddart and their friend Carla Took, from Lowestoft, were tragically killed in July as they returned from a concert in Ipswich. For information visit www.makeroadssafe.org

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