He's the modern day Sid Vicious. They're the new Oasis. Someone's gonna die.
In their relatively short existence, The Libertines have created more myth than music. Their revved-up British rock and original vocalist Pete Doherty's love affair with hard drugs are ready to detonate like a meth lab in the San Bernadino Hills.
Their handlers embrace it. Promotional materials play up the band's antics-complete with a photo of Doherty smoking crack. Predictably, the tabloids and blogs and hipster networks are abuzz.
And the music is worthy-good, even.
The band's new self-titled album was recorded during Doherty's battle with drugs (like the Middle East, it's a war with no peaceful end in sight) and his ever-weakening relationship with friend and co-songwriter Carl Barat. Legend has it that security guards were used to maintain the peace in the recording studio.
From the current single, "Can't Stand Me Now": "No, you've got it the wrong way around/ you shut me up and blamed it on the brown/ your light fingers threw the dark/ that shattered the lamp and into darkness cast us"
Later in the song, the two suggest this whole project was started with an eventful end in mind. "Have we enough to keep it together/ or do we just keep on pretending /and hope our luck is never ending."
Geoff Travis, a record executive for the band's label, Rough Trade, was surprised the recordings for the new album were finished at all. "It's remarkable," he told Blender. "The odds on them making it were 10-to-1 against."
As with pop music casualties like Scott Weiland, Whitney Houston and the ever-amazing Courtney Love, Doherty couldn't escape the paparazzi, who get big cash for chasing car wrecks. With promotional duties for the new album mounting, the band made a tough-love-style decision and hired Anthony Rossomando-Doherty's temporary replacement. The door remains open for a clean Doherty to rejoin the band. The singer recently attempted to reconcile with his former mates at a Libertines show, only to find he was banned from the backstage area.
Sick of giving the play-by-play, Barat has ceased granting interviews. In his stead, drummer Gary Powell tells CityBeat that the road has become a bit of a refuge, a way for the band to reconnect with the fans and life as a Libertine.
"We don't want to be this rock 'n' roll band that stays on the bus, goes to sound check and returns to the bus until show time," he says. "That's not who we are and that's not what being in a rock 'n' roll band is about. We played this amazing gig in Stockholm the other night and afterwards went drinking with a bunch of fans until the wee hours. John was singing songs on his guitar with the fans.... It was fantastic."
Merriam-Webster defines "libertine" as "a person who is unrestrained by convention or morality; one leading a dissolute life." Both band and record label are living up to the billing.The Libertines play with Radio 4 at the Epicentre, 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 3. $12-$14. 858-271-4000.