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Interview with Peter Doherty
at Live at Loch Lomond 2008

Pete Doherty musician, poet and artist rose to fame with his band The Libertines at the beginning of the millennium. Since the band broke up in 2004, Pete has become better known for his well-publicised drug use and being the former boyfriend of supermodel, Kate Moss. Pete, aged 29, seems unable to escape the media spotlight. He and his current band, Babyshambles are constantly under intense tabloid scrutiny and never for the right reasons.

The Brig team: Greg Christison, Iain Clark and Mairead Meechan managed to steal five minutes of Pete's time after his top-of-the-bill performance at a Scottish festival. In the relaxed surroundings of Pete's dressing room they discussed his current solo plans, his relationship with former Libertine, Carl Barat as well as his ever-increasing collection of cats.
Pete Doherty sits in his dressing-room gnawing on a bar of Highland Toffee. The cramped Portakabin is no larger than 12ft x 8ft. Inside are two couches, a stand-alone lamp and a small coffee table, which holds a vase of flowers and his harmonica. Two guitar cases lie abandoned in the corner.

Sinking back into his couch, he reaches up to the wall and scrawls in the initials of his beloved Queens Park Rangers.

Pete has just finished his headline set at the Live at Loch Lomond festival in Balloch. Thousands of fans turned out to see him strum out a performance which included a mixture of Babyshambles, Libertines and cover tunes, including The Strokes' “The Modern Age”.

Earlier, Pete, dressed in his trademark black suit and pork-pie hat, glugged the best part of a bottle of Morgan Spiced Rum between songs. From the moment he appeared on stage, the crowd threw plastic cups and cans of beer towards him. Managing to dodge most of the objects, Pete laughed it off but at one point, in retaliation, threw his microphone into the crowd. He was then showered with more debris including a coin, to which he retorted: “Is that all I'm worth, 10p?”

The Brig team have been led from the media frenzy outside the artist area to the tiny intimate dressing-room where Pete is hiding from the press vultures, who seem so intent on watching him fail.

Sitting opposite us is a very different man to the one who we had just witnessed on stage only five minutes previous. He is not the jaunty character he was on stage, his shirt is off and he seems vulnerable. Wearing his traditional hat, a dirt-stained vest and trousers that are torn at the crotch, Pete reflects on tonight's performance. He admits that he suffers from paranoia, and although he was playing to a well-voiced crowd, he believes he started the set poorly: “I've never played a gig in my life, since I was 17 and played in a band called The Peepsters, where I thought the first two songs went well.

“But when that can of Special Brew missed me by two inches, I knew the gods were on my side,” he laughs.

Greg compliments Pete on his Strokes cover. Pete walks across the room wide eyed and hugs him. “Do you know what?” Pete starts, “I'm going to give you my Fred Perry belt for that.”

Pete drags a pair of jeans from the corner of the room and proceeds to separate the belt from the trousers and continues: “No really though, no one else has been impressed by that – I wasn't too sure of the chords but I think I managed to pull it off!”

He seems grateful of the praise as if he is unsure of his own talent: “I haven't really been doing much of this. This has been my first solo show in a while.”

“What about your show only a few months ago at the Glasgow Barrowlands? That seemed to go well,” says Greg.

“Yeah, that was a bit different. That crowd was particularly inebriated!” Pete said.

With that, the door opens and Adrian Hunter, his manager, enters the room with the question: “What university paper is it for again?”

Pete's carefree attitude turns instantly as he lies back on the sofa in silence, crossing his arms and shaking his head. “I thought this was going to be on my website, not for a newspaper!”

Adrian has to explain that we have agreed to put the story on his website, ‘French Dog Blues' as well as in our student newspaper, but still Pete doesn't shift. There is awkwardness in the room. We understand the trouble he has with the media and his fear of them. We offer to leave.

“No, you know what,” Pete bounds up from his seat and carries on: “He liked my Strokes cover; we will let him do what he wants with it!” The mood in the room lightens as Pete seems more relaxed with us.

The interview tracks back to his recent solo shows, in particularly his biggest yet at London's prestigious Royal Albert Hall venue where he covered numerous songs from his back catalogue.

Explaining about the gig, Pete says: “The original plan for the Albert Hall was to do a load of new songs but after thinking about it, we decided against the idea.

“I'm not doing any new stuff live at the moment. I've been putting some stuff on my laptop and we're going to do that as an album.

“I'm still not sure when it's going to be out, but it will be ready quite soon. The album will include songs called: ‘Straights', ‘Cat Man Do', ‘I Don't Know That Man', ‘Ocean' and ‘Old Road Juk'.”

Pete gets up from his seat and makes his way to the guitar cases in the corner of the room. He returns to his seat with his acoustic guitar and begins to strum the chords to The Strokes hit ‘Someday'.

Greg asks if he can get involved and Pete nods to the corner of the room: “Yeah, my other guitar is sitting there.”

The interview then turns into a 10-minute sing-a-long between Pete, Greg, Iain, Mairead and the soundmen who are passing in and out. It is clear that Pete enjoys music more than anything else. He is smiling and is no longer the dishevelled and dejected figure that is often portrayed in the press.

Putting the guitars down, Pete is asked about the inspiration behind the new songs. Cryptically he responds with “If we were in Glasgow I could show you. I couldn't possibly say!”

“What about the future then, more solo?” asks Greg.

“No, no, no,” Pete teases, “two of my cats have just had kittens!

“I came out of prison and had five cats; friends had looked after them for me. But now two of them have had three each! Yeah, that's right, I've got eleven now.” Pete reflects: “One of them is unbelievable he's not even two weeks old and he's fully mobile and he's well up for it! He's great!

On a more serious note, Pete discusses his former Libertines band mate, Carlos Barat: “We were meant to be writing a musical together. I don't know if I'm at liberty to say but he has never contacted me about it. The theatre contacted me, I phoned him and he never got back to me! Then he went around saying the theatre had contacted him! It's weird, you know?”

Greg tells Pete that Barat had recently acknowledged Babyshambles' song ‘Killamangiro' as his favourite tune that he had written.

“Getaway!” Pete shouts. “He said that? Me and him wrote a song together called ‘A Little Death Around the Eyes.' That's my favourite song ever!”

He adds: “I suppose my favourite song by Carl would be a song called ‘Nine Lives' or ‘France'.”

Pete refuses to comment on where his future plans lie. He doesn't say whether he is to continue with more solo or more Babyshambles and does not accept or deny recent rumours of a Libertines reunion.

He does say though: “The main thing for me at the moment is not to let anyone down. And not to release anything that's going to be below par. So expect good things.

“All I'm saying is I'm not going to release anything that I don't think is better than something I have released before. And it's not going to happen if I take fuel.”

Loud knocks on the door signify the end to our interview. Pete is ordered to get on a boat to take him over to the mainland from the festival zone. Our ‘five minutes' were up.