That’s the question we wanted to get to the bottom off at the Motor im Grünen Festival in Berlin Spandau. Even just the arrival is a joy. Because our way to libertine-prinz Barat leads us through the courtyard of a renaissance castle in which later this afternoon the first bands are gonna play.
As soon as we’ve arrived in the catacombs of the castle, Carl saunters over to us. After a short introduction he asks us, if it’s possible to do the interview in his changing room. “You’re allowed to smoke there.”
No problem: The changing room of Dirty Pretty Things is a comfortable backstage room with sofas and a good selection of alcoholic beverages. Surprising, cause according to news stories Carl’s been off the booze since his collapse in June. He even went so far as forbidding alcohol to the whole band. It’s time to clear this up.
C: (Laughing) No! No! You should see the boys. It’s quite embarrassing actually. (Laughs)
Q: You’ve been hospitalised with acute pancriatitis in the middle of June. What happened?
C: Well, I was taking those pills for my headache. Actually, I was taking a whole lot of those. And after that I drank a huge amount of russian vodka. Alright, I’ve been drinking quite a lot recently, anyway. That knocked me out. And now I’m starting all over again.
Q: So you’re not drinking at all anymore?
C: I am, but not as much.
Q: I read that you said that the gigs are better, if there isnt any alcohol involved. Is that true?
C: I said that? (laughs) Well, no. To be honest, I’ve forgotten how the gigs were before - without booze. I dont mind. It doesnt really change all that much - the music is what’s important. But alcohol can be nice. The problem is, that I always just assumed that the crowd was as drunken as me. And I thought I’d be disappointing them, if I wasnt drunk.
Q: Let’s talk about the new record. Are you happy with it?
C: Hm. I believe so. (thinks) Yeah, I’m happy with it. It really reflects the time in which we were writing it.
Q: How is it different to ‘Waterloo To Anywhere’?
C: It’s a bit more heartrending. Some say, a bit too much. But in my eyes that’s not true.
Q: You recorded the album in Los Angeles. Why did you go there?
C: It’s cheaper than England.
Q: Did you like it?
C: No, it was horrible. We didnt live in Hollywood but in a district that looked like a concrete jungle.
Q: Is there another reason - except money - to record an album in LA and not in England?
C: Oh, we just wanted to get away from all the shit, to be honest. But after a certain time in LA we all went a bit crazy. We went into the desert - about two hours from LA.. like The Doors.
Q: Aha. And what did you do?
C: Well, we ate mushrooms and counted the moons in the sky (laughs). We just walked around a bit.
Q: After you recorded the album, you went to Spain for three weeks. I read you felt like a monk in a cell - just you and your guitar. What were you doing?
C: Haha. That sounds a bit corny. It could as well have been Alaska, that didnt really matter. Basically it was just me and the sky. I thought a lot and read a lot of books.
Q: What kind of books?
C: A lot of novels. I read a lot of Bukoswki only to figure out that I dont actually like Bukowski. You know, people write those long lists describing what they’re done. It’s boring. I dont want lists. I want a story. I really like Graham Greene’s ‘The End of the Affair’. That’s a really good book.
Q: One of your songs is called ‘Tired of England’. Have you been tired of England bebfore?
C: Yeah, sometimes. The people or ironically the English attitude.. oh, I can’t stop moaning. (laughs). I see England as one big organism.
Q: You once said that there’ll be a political storm in England soon. What did you mean?
C: Oh, I think I felt a bit like Nostradamus for a while. Well, music reflects the time and also the movements. You can be happy if you’ve got a voice that counts during a movement. To be part of it, it's great. But right now all we’ve got are small scenes. That can get really boring with time. I would welcome big movements.
Q: Can you describe such a movement?
C: I was thinking of the punk in the 70s. That was a movement. Or Oasis in the 90s.
Q: Do you think artists can change things? Politically?
C: I actually see an artists’ roll in expressing the collective awareness.
Q: You’re touring RASN at the moment. Where do you most enjoy playing?
C: I love playing in tiny clubs. Mostly it’s really exciting. Everyone’s getting together and you get some proper heat. The music on stage is mostly really loud, but also damn good. I love playing those little dirty clubs, where everyone just lives for that one fucking second. That’s what it is about.
Q: What do you guys like to do together, when you’re off stage?
C: We sit around a lot and play guitar, walk around or have a beer. I dont know. Some of the guys like watching movies. Mostly we’re just sitting around and talk bout various things.
Q: A lot of people are hoping for a Libertines reunion. Which band, who’s members are still alive, would you like to reunite?
C: They all have to be alive still? (thinks for a long time) That’s a damn difficult question. All the good ones are dead. Hmm.. Okay. They can be dead for all I care. Hm. The Velvet Underground. For the question before. And otherwise - The Beatles.
C: Yeah! I mean, it would be hard work but yes, of course.
C: We’ve got a good relationship. We haven’t talked much cause we’ve not seen each other in a long time. But yeah, fundamentally we’ve got a good relationship.
Q: What are your next plans?
C: It’s a secret.
Q: I read something about an album with Reverend and the Makers..
C: Oh, that’s still a secret (mumbles something) There’s lots of things to do. Now I’ve got so much time. Now I’ve stopped drinking.