PHOTOGRAPHY Jonathan Vincent Baron
INTERVIEW Nicolò Michielin
HAIR Takuya Uchiyama
MAKEUP Elaine Lynskey
PHOTO ASSISTANT Christoph Langenberg
ALL LOOKS Celine Homme Fall/Winter 2023
It was Christmas Day 2006 when my first girlfriend gave me a copy of “The Libertines”, an album whose cover features a photo of Carl and Pete taken after the Tap’n’Tin’s “Freedom Gig,” a concert that sanctioned the band’s reunion and would be dubbed “the gig of the decade” by NME years later. Lying in bed that December afternoon, we listened to “Can’t Stand Me Now” on the stereo in my room, as well as “Music When the Lights Go Out,” a sweet ballad that at one point says, “And all the memories of the pubs and the clubs and the drugs and the tubs that we shared together will stay with me forever.” We ended up breaking up in the end, our love went who knows where to hide in our memories, like in the song. The Libertines had also broken up, and perhaps it was because sometimes, when love is such that it does not accept being transformed into something else, when it does not want to come to terms with itself and become something other than itself, it also needs distance in order to continue to exist in its purest and rawest form, like a field that needs a season of rest in order to bear its best harvest.
However, Pete and Carl’s story ended happily. They are together again, for years now, and have continued to write songs for other young lovers and penniless poets, for those in the suburbs who smoke at windows, for those in parking lots during winter, songs for vagrants in the night and for sweet stoned souls, for the hooligans of Marseilles and Venice, songs for those who come home exhausted on a Friday night and just want to go out drinking with their best friend, for the squatters of London and the beautiful girls of Pigalle, for the robbers of Milan and the innocent victims of the world. For some they are the latest rock stars, for others they are the icons of an era, the synthesis of punk and literature, but regardless of all that, this issue is about love, and certainly Carl Barât and Pete Doherty represent the extrinsic embodiment of what love is, what love does, its price, and what it entails in each of its declensions.

What is your song that you are most attached to and why?

Carl: “Death on the Stairs.” It has an innocence and vulnerability you cannot recreate.
Pete: It changes, really. It changes over time depending on what mood I’m in. I probably have to go with a song called At the Flophouse, which is able to capture a certain mood with the lyrics and the melody. It is quite short and quite simple. But in its simplicity, I just rely on that song.

Also, it ties into the next question: Tell us an anecdote behind one of your songs.

One of my favorite poets is Emily Dickinson and she’s got a line: “I took one draught of life and paid only the market price.” I always loved those lines. So, for a long time, I tried to get them into a song, and I used them in “At the Flophouse.” It’s just a perfect song, it captures a certain time of my life – well, at the flophouse, basically. And, also: I think I was able to do justice to Emily Dickinson. With that melody, I think it took something particularly youthful and fragile. I like to think that I succeeded with that song, it just feels right.
“Don’t Look Back into The Sun” was inspired by The Velvet Underground’s “Ride into the Sun” and Oasis’s “Don’t Look Back in Anger”. And the chords might be a little similar, too…. We wrote it in a little apartment in Paris opposite the Sacre Coeur. We threw a lot of potatoes off the balcony. I don’t remember why.

What is your top five of your songs?

“Run Run Run”
“Death on the Stairs”
“Heart of the Matter”
“You’re My Waterloo”
“Tell the King”

The best song you wrote, in your opinion?


Do you know some Italian bands and/or songs?

I used to know a great Italian band called Matinee… Then there are Måneskin and Pooh, whom I’m less familiar with (although I hear Pooh’s early work is their best?). I’ve always been more into the classical side when it comes to Italian music, though.

Many years ago, you did a cover of “Sally Cinnamon” by the Stone Roses. If you had to do one today, what song would you choose?

“All You Need Is Love”

Does your new album, All Quiet on the Eastern Esplanade, have a theme?

It’s a snapshot of a time.

What track do you personally like the most? What is it about?

I love all of my babies the same. Right now, I’m into “Night of the Hunter.” You need to hear it to know why. 

Can you tell us a song that makes you think of love?

Pale Blue Eyes” by the Velvet Underground.
“Starting Over” by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. I think about that song, you know. Hmm. “Take a trip somewhere far, far away…” [sings] That melody has got an Elvis melody, real romantic. “Two of Us,” by the Beatles, so simple, so salad days. So many songs when I think of love. “The Wild Ones” by Suede and probably every Billie Holiday song, even the most desperate and melancholy ones. Just a different type of love, I suppose. “Tears Dry On Their Own” by Amy Winehouse. There’s kind of endless answers to that question.

Who were the role models that most inspired you at the beginning of your career, or that have influenced you as a person?

I’m not sure I like the word career. But, at the early stage in my songwriting, I was really quite obsessed with the Smiths, Morrissey’s lyrics and his voice as well, and not just him, but also Johnny Marr’s guitar playing. It still is so incredible, they never did anything second rate. I really lived inside those songs when I was 15, 16. It was a big deal for me. I mean, it was kind of my world. So, yeah, it inspired me as a musician and a songwriter and shaped me as well in a lot of ways – the way I saw myself, and England and the world. Yeah, a lot came from The Smiths, I think.
We were inspired by the Golden Age of make-believe. The matinee idols of film noir, of the stage and screen. David Niven and Myrna Loy. And, of course, musicians. Too many to reference…. The anxiety of influence…

Can you tell us about the day you and Carl met?

It was raining.
I think I remember the exact moment because I was wearing this 1970s, plastic, Italian anorak, the sort of thing that a crap racing car driver would have worn. I was wearing it with a really cheap perfume that I think I was really proud of, you know. I went to visit my sister in college, and I flipped my head around the door to my sister’s room and he was sitting in the bed, in my sister’s bed. He was wearing big army boots with like 24 holes and a green army jacket. And he had quite long hair in a ponytail, jet black hair and blue eyes. I remember that moment distinctly.
I didn’t really know the area, I was just visiting my sister. But she had to go and do something and she didn’t really trust me to be alone in that part of London so she made Carl look after me. Carl was trying to be an actor at the time and he had an audition for a play so I went with him. He was pretty angry, actually, and couldn’t believe my sister left me with him. He was being mean over my jacket. [laughs] I was about 16. So we went to the audition and I watched him do his audition and I thought: I could do this. So I went up to do the audition and I got the part. He really hated me for that.

Do you remember the first time you argued, what it was about?

We have never stopped.

Can you tell us about when you got the “libertine” tattoo? What is the history of that writing? When did you get it?

I got in on the Bowery in NYC around 2002. It’s just my handwriting…
I love the writing, it is Carl’s handwriting. He’s got a very strange way of doing his e’s in uppercases and his r’s like n’s. I always liked his handwriting. And that became the template for everyone getting a “libertine” tattoo: They have to get it in Carl’s handwriting. I got this one in New York. I think we both got the tattoo in New York around the time that The Libertines were breaking up for the first time. Or the second time? One of the times. We weren’t really talking at the time either, so it was all a little bit depressed as well. But maybe we both knew deep down that we’d get together again.

What is your relationship with fame?

I prefer to stay in the background. It’s a wonderful thing to be appreciated for what you do, but I dont like to be a public figure, I want my life to be my own.
You know, that’s the sort of thing. Even that day when I went up for the audition, I was obviously just trying to be famous, whether it was as an actor or in a band, I did quite a lot of performance poetry or busking, I loved any type of performance. Fame, for me, was going to be the solution to all the ills, to all the problems, it would solve everything, it would make everything all right. So, it was quite a naive relationship I had to it. Basically, I was a bit of a sucker for fame. It’s something that you dream about, work for for so long, but then you never really fully appreciate it when you have it. It’s never quite what you imagined it to be. I always thought fame was some kind of superpower. Actually, it’s more a sign of some kind of deficiency, to have that lust for fame. You’re probably missing something inside.

Is it something you appreciate, or does its bad sides lead you to think you would be better off without it?

I don’t know… it’s such a weird thing these days. I don’t even know if fame really exists anymore, do you know what I mean? If I was 16 now and I had a phone and social media… You can kind of have all the fame you want, at least in your head. That’s probably enough. That probably would be enough for me. It’s a completely different type of fame. I don’t know… it’s a weird, weird thing. It depends on what you are famous for. What people know you for. What they think they know about you or appreciate about you.

Do you have any political orientation? What do you think about the existence of royal rulers through birthright?

I’m a libertine.
I suppose I’m an anarchist at heart, really. You know, I enjoy cooperatives, and communal ownership is the ideal for me, and just community. Royal rulers through birthright in the modern age doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s kind of criminal. I think the French had it right.

Do you think that prison, intended as deprivation of freedom of a subject, is a correct solution for an individual who violates the laws of society, or do you think it presupposes an acceptance of participation in the social contract that some individuals may not want?

It’s so strange when laws change so dramatically. Imagine: 50 years ago, you would go to prison for being a homosexual in England. I don’t know how long ago it changed in Italy. Now, hopefully, most people would agree that’s a terrible law. But that was the accepted norm. Do you know what I mean? I think people are going to look at addiction in the same way one day, maybe not in 50 years, maybe in a 100 years. The prisons are full of drug addicts. We need to start seeing addiction as an illness and treating it as an illness instead of a crime. It’s a bit like sending people to prison for being diabetic or something like that.

Are you in favor of the liberalization of soft drugs?

Yes, I am, alongside educational guidance and quality control. Prohibition doesn’t work, in my opinion. People should be free to find their own way.

And hard drugs?

The same.

Do you think that the relationship between art and drugs is just a cliché?

I do not. Drugs change the perception of the artist and therefore, their work, sometimes for the better, but very often for the worse.

What drugs have you done?

I have done most of the drugs I can think of at some time or another.

Which one is your favorite?


Can you give us a definition of art?

Anything that makes you feel.

When, in your opinion, can you define a person as an artist? How relevant is life itself to the artistic product? Will the artist’s life, if it was not already, become his true work of art?

If a person makes art, they are an artist. Art should be separate from the artist, as people will always let you down. Art you love never does.

Do you think an objective aesthetic value exists, or do you think aesthetic value is just subjective?

I think all aesthetic values are subjective, unless you want to break them down and sell the parts.

Do you think Hegel was right to put music as art at a higher level, or do you think the figurative arts, especially at an emotional level, are on the same level?

Depends on the individual.

Do you think AI in the future could replace even the work of musicians and artists in general? Would you find it a natural step in the evolutionary process, or a process that should be stopped to preserve an anthropocentric status quo?

I like to think we’ll see the machines coming far enough in advance to stop them. I’d always choose the red pill. I might crush up the blue one for the occasional bump, though.

Do you think it would be correct to create a place where one can live in the state of nature, free from a system of social belonging?

If people want that, sure.
Where is that place? I’d love to go there.

In your opinion, is it right that states exist? Or would you prefer a world and humanity united under one flag?

I think states will exist for as long as certain creeds cannot coexist. Ultimately, though, one love.

How would you answer the dilemma of the Mandarin of Chateaubriand? In other words, if in order to fulfill any of your desires, you had to end the life of a person who is extremely distant from you and about whom you know nothing, without them suffering and without anyone ever knowing, would you do it?

Without them suffering… don’t they automatically suffer? Because you’re ending their life.

They just die, basically, without suffering. Someone who is very far from you.

It’s a really strange question because automatically, it becomes about power. Whatever your desires were before, all of a sudden, you’ve got the power to end someone’s life to achieve your desires. So, your desires are probably changed.

I think Balzac was talking more about how your moral changes if it is something very far from you.

It makes me think of Orson Welles in The Third Man. When he goes up on the fairground ride and he’s looking down, saying people are like insects from the top. And if you could kill one to have anything you want… It’s the same thing.


Yeah, no…  I’d just go without.

“It’s either to the top of the world, or the bottom of a canal.” Can you tell us about the legend of this phrase?

Yeah, well, we used to sit by the canal a lot in Camden. At the end of the night, with the last couple of cigarettes and a bottle of wine. When the wine was finished, we always put the wine bottle in the middle of the canal, and then we’d play some game. Whoever hit the wine bottle with a stone got… that’s how we got the name The Libertines. We all got different ideas for the name of the band. And then, one night, we said, “Right, we’re going to choose the name tonight. Whoever hits the bottle with the stone, gets to decide the name of the band.” But we were drunk and no one really remembers who chose what name. But that’s how we got the name The Libertines.
Carl was quite… angry when he was like 18, 19, 20. Angry about everything, about society, about himself and… I think he was quite suicidal as well. He would always be talking about like throwing himself, like: “Let’s go on the top of the flats and throw ourselves off,” and then: “No! Let’s take a nice walk!” Also: He couldn’t swim and he’d always throw himself into the canal so we’d have to jump in after him… It was his… self-destruction.
But he can swim now. And he’s much less angry, I think, on the surface.

Can you define yourself with 3 adjectives?


There is a rumor which suggests the name The Libertines is a reference to the Marquise de Sade. Is that true? What were the other potential names you were considering?

There is a myriad of reasons we chose The Libertines and this is one. Before that, we were: The Cricketers, The Strand, The Sallys, Spaniel and Spaniel. It’s easy to see why we stuck with The Libertines.

How is the creative process articulated in your creations as a duo?

It’s chemistry. Plain and simple.

In your opinion, what’s your best gig that we can find on YouTube?

The Doors live at the Hollywood Bowl.

What’s the topic you are most expert in?

I know nothing.

What work would you have wanted to do if you were not in your profession?

I feel like I’d liked to be a writer, really. I like the discipline in it. I’d like to have studied, you know? Learned more languages. I’d loved to be a translator, learned Spanish and Portuguese. Oh, so many dreams! I’d liked to be a playwright. Yeah, that would have been great. Or own a little secondhand shop somewhere, you know? Just sell broken typewriters and old books; I could see myself doing that, definitely.

Any advice you can give to someone that wants to do what you do?

Be sure it’s what you love more than anything else and be sure you want it enough to give it everything you have. It will be needed.

Who do you think are the best bands right now? Do you think there is an heir of The Libertines?

There are so many great bands out there, but it is where the spotlight falls that gives them to the world. I think the spotlight could be in better hands.

A song you wish you had written?

“All You Need Is Love”
I’ve had this question before. It’s always the same answers because it’s the truth. “Pancho and Lefty” by Townes Van Zandt. “Waitin’ Around to Die” by Townes Van Zandt. “Johnny Too Bad,” do you know that song? “Walking down the road with a blade in your waist… Johnny you are too bad… ohhhh… One of these days, when you hear a voice say come, where you going to run to?” [sings] It’s Jimmy Cliff, of The Harder They Come soundtrack. Or “Shanty Town,” Desmond Dekker. So many… “Tangled up in Blue,” Bob Dylan. Any Smiths song, any Morrissey song. What’s that Ian Brown song? “Corpses in Their Mouths” That song. “She’s got corpses in her mouth…” [sings] So many songs I wish I had written. Sometimes I pretend, you know, I start playing them real loud, when I’m drunk, I pretend that I’ve written them.

[laughs] Interesting.

Killing of a Flashboy” by Suede. I love that song. Talk about glam, glam punk songs. “Submission” by Sex Pistols, I love that, the vocals. [starts vocalizing] “Passenger” by Iggy Pop I really like. So simple, but I just love it. [starts humming it]

If you were a character of a movie, which one would you be?

The Big Lebowski or Charlie Chaplin’s character in Modern Times.

Favorite movies?

Night of the Hunter
Modern Times
Withnail and I
The Big Lebowski

What do you think about the political correctness that cloaks the world of the media – do you think it is functional for a hypothetical improvement of society and effective outreach to people, or do you think it is exaggerated and represents a problem?

I respect its function in creating a new more considerate normal, but it is dangerous when exaggerated, in that it weaponizes words and outlaws freedom of thought and expression. It could be better thought out.

Are you religious?

I believe in some ideas from some religions but none in their entirety.
Yeah, I am a bit, actually, yeah. Yeah, I suppose I am. In moments of deep crisis, I tend to pray. Yeah, maybe I could have been a priest if I haven’t had done this, you know what I mean? [laughs] It’s a bit like the army, you know, you’re guaranteed a roof over your head, and that really appeals to me. That might be the dangerous thing about it: They take you in, they keep you warm, and then you kill for them, you know what I mean? Maybe not the church, not today, but before. Yeah, it’s that simple life that appeals to me, in a monastery somewhere. Maybe a British monastery, maybe not a Catholic one.

Do you think that believing in god and not believing in god start from the same presumption about something that in itself we have no possibility of knowing, thus reducing even atheism to an act of faith toward the unknown?

Yes. Choose your own adventure.

In your opinion, is there such a thing as unnatural? If you consider man as part of nature, is everything that emanates from us to be considered natural? If not, why do you not consider man as part of nature?

That depends on whether you are a humanist who believes humans are god. There is cell dividing life and all cell dividing organisms are natural. What they do to their surrounding habitats and fellow organisms could be called a product of nature.

If you could time travel and go into the past, what would you do? Would you try to do something to change our current world?

If I was stuck in the past, I’d probably pass off some inventions/songs as my own just to make the best of the situation. But being in the past would fuck up causality and I would cease to exist, so I’d rather not.

Can you tell us one regret that you have?

Hmm… Yeah, that’s a tough one. No, I try keep it as positive as possible. I don’t really think of regrets so much.

Do you think life has meaning?

I think life has meaning. The meaning has to be love. That and regeneration.

Can you give us a definition of love?

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love. And be loved in return.

How many people have you slept with in your life?

I don’t know.

If you were not married and if you could choose a famous person for a night, who would it be?

Diana Dors.

Many people consider you to be the latest genuine rockstar. Is rock and roll still alive?

Rock and roll is a mindset that cannot and will not die. It is love, hate, defiance, acceptance, community and isolation and a myriad of things. Sometimes people embody rock and roll and sometimes they don’t. I don’t believe in rock stars.

The craziest thing you’ve seen at one of your concerts?

In their euphoria, a great many people stripped naked and climbed the delay tower at Hyde Park. Also, years ago, somebody died when we played a gig at a nursing home. The song was “Music When the Lights Go Out.”

The most rock and roll thing?

The hyena is a pretty rock and roll animal, I guess.

Your favorite style icons?

David Bowie and Charlie Chaplin.

Blur or Oasis?


If you could choose which historical era to live in, which would you choose?

Late 60s London or San Francisco.

If you could spend a day with an historical figure, who would you choose?

Charlie Chaplin.

Who are the people that inspired you the most?

Too many to mention – teachers, musicians, movie stars, lovers.

Favorite authors for books?

This is tricky because there are so many… I love Dostoevsky. All his books, but Crime and Punishment, in particular, I love. I love a lot of poets. Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Ted Hughes, Dylan Thomas. I read the Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. And then I listened to an audiobook read by Charlton Heston. Weird accent, he’s got, it’s kind of like American Irish.
I love audiobooks recently. Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Beautiful book, I love that, the letters in that really sort of formal Victorian English. I like Dickens, as well. I love George Orwell. Love Oscar Wilde. Hunter S. Thompson is probably my favorite author. I find him fascinating, all his political stuff. He was obviously a child of capitalism, but he knew all its evils while celebrating it, he was aware of what it was doing to the human soul and wrote fearlessly about it. There’s a collection of his essays called The Great Shark Hunt. It’s a really interesting time in American politics, the Nixon era. For a lot of people, it was the death of the American dream. It’s a shocking time, the Vietnam war, Nixon and Watergate. He said Nixon had too many faults and not enough charisma, but one day, a real smooth talking, media savvy shark is going to come along. So, he basically foresaw Donald Trump. It’s very scary. And the essay he writes about the Kentucky Derby, it’s really strange. He’s trying to find the perfect caricature face, these cartoons, of these evil, twisted, rancid Kentucky colonels. And at the end of it, he sees the face, but it’s his own face in there. Edgar Allan Poe I like as well. He wrote this little story called The Man in the Crowd. I love that. Yeah, it’s pretty sinister, like a lot of his stuff. Quite magical as well. Shakespeare, Wright as well, yeah. James Joyce. Nelson Algren.

What is the thing you like most about Italy?

The food.

And one you don’t like?

The drivers.