For the past year, Carl Barât has been launching his new band The Jackals while cranking The Libertines back into action. As of last week, it’s full steam ahead with the latter – Barât signed off Jackals duties on April 16 at London’s Scala, where the band were joined by a full brass section. After that it was back home to pack. “I’ve been waking up in the morning with Libertines lyrics in my head, hurriedly getting the typewriter out, then figuring out brass arrangements for the Jackals in the evening,” said Barât, before the show. “But I’m off to Thailand tomorrow for a month’s recording. This is the album. The big push.”
Joining the band in Southeast Asia (Pete Doherty’s just returned from Laos on what Barât described as “a visa run”) is the album’s newly appointed producer. After much speculation about who’d take up the mantle (Noel? Clash man and ‘Up The Bracket’ producer Mick Jones?) their choice is surprising – it’s Jake Gosling, who was previously Grammy-nominated for his work on Ed Sheeran’s mega-hit ‘The A Team’. Barât explains: “We had wish lists flying back and forth, from the [John] Leckies through to the [Paul] Epworths and Stephen Street. What it boiled down to was that we wanted to try something a bit new. We wanted someone who is just getting their thing going, rather than someone who is just going to put us through their machine. This isn’t a heritage band making a heritage album.”
Barât also confirmed that while the new record has been written in full, the band intend to keep writing creating during the process. “The feeling’s great,” he said. “We’ve been sparking. The pistons are all firing. I’m genuinely excited, and can’t wait to get this stuff out there. It’s nice to be back in that position. We’ve all been waiting to write this record for ages.”
Although he concedes the band have something to live up to, Barât insists they are not overly concerned with the past. “We try not to think too much about out legacy,” he said. “The energy that we had and used in our music hasn’t left us. We’re still as driven and full of wonder about the world, but now we have more experiences and more to say to each other, and to the world. It’s exciting. We need to get it done now. Now we’ve started this process we’ve opened Pandora’s Box, so we’ve at least got to have a drink with these demons.”
It means The Jackals, who Barât recruited via open auditions in a London pub, are back on the shelf for a short while. “It’s dawned on the band that we’re at the sunset of this cycle now,” said Barât. “We’ve been in the trenches together, but I think now they’re going to knuckle down and figure out what it is they’ve got to say and what I can bring to it. As much as I prize this thing with The Jackals, and doing the hard work touring on a shoestring, with The Libertines we’ve done all that and more. It’s been a tumultuous ride. When I’m back in a room with those boys, that’s all that exists. We have history, and songs that we can just lie back and fall into. If I lie back in this band I’ll just fall into the drumkit…”
Originally published in NME, 25 April 2015.