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Babyshambles interview

Backstage in Brighton (from - Interview by Michael Nolder):

There’s something about the atmosphere inside the Brighton Centre’s flush dressing room. It’s fresh, it’s clean and there’s not even one drop of alcohol in the room. Can this really be a Babyshambles gig? Apparently so - Pete is keen to make it clear that it’s a dry tour, although the pint he’s clutching at the end of his band’s set later suggests that this rule isn’t too vigorously enforced. As clean as a whistle, Pete is chatty and coherent throughout. He even attempts to do the badger dance (“Badgers Badgers Badgers MUSHROOM! MUSHROOM!), and strums along gently to the George Formby CD playing in the background. Babyshambles would appear be a band on the mend, improving with every gig they play…

What’s it like playing larger venues like this – are these the largest places you’ve played?
Adam Ficek: It’s like you were saying the other day…
Peter Doherty: Yeah, normally it’s like, we haven’t got enough leads, or the tuner’s not working, or someone spills a pint of beer on the amp. Little venues are good, but nothing ever works. The atmosphere is good but it ends up sounding shit, whereas here there’s a pretty slick atmosphere and things work.You don’t find larger gigs like this more nerve-wracking then?
Adam: I find it more nerve-wracking playing the big places, yeah. I shit myself.

Have you been down to Brighton much before?
Adam: I think this lot have before.
Peter: Last time I played here it was to about 80 people. It was an acoustic gig with Dot Alison, and then on the way home we ran over a stag.
Adam: (To Pete) Didn’t you play down here in the band as well? I think Babyshambles played down here at some point.
Peter: Yeah we did, yeah. I think we played that rectangle place with the dressing room behind the stage – it was on the front. And we played the Freebutt – I think we played there when we just got signed.
Adam: And Event 2…

So you know Brighton quite well then?
Peter: I love Brighton.
Adam: It’s brilliant, yeah.

Why do you think people should come and see you tonight?
Adam: We’ve already sold it out, so we don’t need convince anybody…

Dizzee Rascal is supporting you on your tour at the moment – How did this come about?
Adam: Dizzee Rascal’s amazing – he fires us up and gets us ready to play – it’s brilliant. You watch him and you just become really up for it.
Peter: We had a shared experience with him on an aeroplane when we came to Ireland. It was quite strange – like a kind of fucked-up version of Stella Street. We had us lot, Dizzee Rascal, Sinead O’Connor in a shell-suit and Brian Wilson…
Adam: He was in a shell-suit as well…
Peter: As soon as the engine of the plane started, he (Brian Wilson) started… Imagine the whole of the plane, like, silent and all of a sudden you just hear… do it Mick…
Mick Whitnall: Haaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrr!
Peter: And he’s going (puts on accent) - “Can you hear the chord?” And he’s like humming and singing in tune to the engine. And then he’s going (does accent again) “Doesn’t it feel like Christmas guys?” Then Mick offered him a sweet, and he goes “No, I shouldn’t really,” then grabs a hanky, and sort of put it in his mouth unopened… It was fucking weird. And then Dizzee said “Can I support you?”

Do you get much of a chance to try out new songs on the road?
Adam: In the sound check two minutes ago we just did two new ones - really good. We kind of do most of the stuff on the hoof, really. There’s one we’ve just done called 1939 which is really good. (To Pete) What’s 1939 about?
Peter: It’s about a bloke who gets captured behind enemy lines. He sacrificed his life for Germany, because he didn’t tread carefully behind enemy lines.
Adam: So he’s actually a German then?
Peter: Yeah. It’s one of my works of fiction.
Adam: I had a dream last night that I was a snowboarder, right. It’s weird, I was at the top of this hill just in shoes, yet I beat ‘em all. And I got to the bottom, but they said “You can’t claim the prize because you started after the buzzer.” And I’m going “Yeah, but that shouldn’t matter, because that means that they’ve got an advantage,” but she wouldn’t have it. But I was feeling really good about myself.

Have you got a favourite song you like playing live?
Adam: I like playing ‘Side Of The Road’ live ‘cos it’s fast and you can get the crowd moving.
Peter: I like playing ‘Sedative’ because it’s a lovely tune, and…
Adam: Gives us a chance for a tea break…
Peter: Yeah, you get to sit down.
Adam: You should sit in the armchair an’ have nice a cuppa tea during it.
Peter: Think I will actually tonight.
Adam: A little glass of lemon tea.

In the past you’ve often played old Libertines’ songs, but not so much on this tour – is this something you’ve enjoyed, or is it something you feel uncomfortable doing?
Adam: I like it – I think there’s a good buzz playing them. It wasn’t a conscious decision on this tour, it just didn’t really materialise.
Peter: It’s great, we should do it more really. You can feel uncomfortable about the past, but it doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable about the songs. When we do smaller gigs and were playing more, sort of, ramshackle set lists, we’ve had a crack at loads of them – ‘Time For Heroes’, ‘Horrorshow’, ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’, ‘For Lovers’, ‘What A Waster’… We do a reggae version of ‘I Get Along’. But in more formal gigs we want to do things that we know inside out, and we’ve never really bothered to learn ‘em properly.

You’re not playing any of them tonight then?
Adam: Not in the set, but you never know.

Is there anyone in the future you’d like to collaborate with?
Adam: What about Amy?
Peter: Yeah, Amy Winehouse. We were working on something last night actually. It’s called ‘You Hurt The One’s You Love’.

Who should be the next England manager?
Peter: (Sighs) It’s just depressing.
Adam: I think get Venables back.
Drew McConnell: Get Wolfman.
Adam: Hmm, I don’t know who would be a good manager actually.
Drew: Wolfman.
Adam: Yeah, but he plays a defensive game, though, doesn’t he?
Peter: You know Wolfman used to play professional football for Gillingham? But he’s in hospital at the moment on a drip from alcoholism. He’ll be all right if he stops drinking.Well he could probably apply for it then – he’s got some experience.
Adam: I reckon so, yeah. Wolfman it is.

What have been your highlights of your time in the band so far?
Adam: I love it when an album’s finished. The actual recording process is quite stressful, but I love it when it’s finished. You can actually sit and go, “Fucking hell, that’s great!” and all that stuff.

What about low points? Have you had many times where you’ve felt you just weren’t enjoying it?
Adam: Yeah, sometimes it’s quite troublesome – when there’s a lot of press intrusion and stuff kicking off. Like pictures in the press and that – it takes its toll, but you’ve just got to pick yourself up and keep your chin up really. It’s been hard and you think it’s gonna implode any second, but then something always just comes around the corner and kind of saves everything.

Any messages for the Brighton blog readers?
Adam: When you go to the beach, don’t leave rubbish. Very important. It annoys me, that. You know, you’re sitting on a lovely beach and you don’t want to see rubbish. Actually, I saw Blur at Sussex University here. I had to spend the night in the car park. This was when they first started to play songs like ‘Girls And Boys’ and ‘Parklife’ - it was amazing. So, yeah, Sussex University – I saw Blur there.

Later on, an impressive set is topped-off by a 25-minute encore. Pete even has time for a beautiful rendition of ‘Music When The Lights Go Out’ – perhaps an epitaph for the evening, as the crowd leave the venue singing late into the night. The tour may since have finished, but Babyshambles are back from the dead.

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