For anybody that cares, this is from the new NME. Some kind soul typed it out already. Take it as you will.
"Listen, Peter's gonna fucking kill me for telling you this, but right now he's not even in London. He's in jail in Munich. He got caught by the police with some stuff and that's where he is. You really believe he actually chose not to be here?! It's fucking bullshit! He's in prison...."
The girl we're chatting to - one of two we see at east London's Troxy dressed in red tunics - is tipsy to the point of falling down the stairs, but friendly enough. She says she knows Peter personally, and, like a fair few people we chat to tonight, she has her own theory as to why the man of the moment (10 year moment) is a no-show at the world premiere of the most official Libertines release in years. Treated more as a friend than a documentary maker, Roger Sargent got closer than most for "There Are No Innocent Bystanders", his film portrayal of the band. But it's not a particularly happy relic of their 2010 sojourn around England. Bookended by scenes of joy, (starts with NME photoshoot and ends with their triumphant Reading Festival gig) the majority of it's 86 minutes show a band struggling to keep their heads above water. They're under rehearsed, bickering, and - in Peter and Carl's case - still harbouring the deep-rooted relationship problems that tore them apart in the first place.
While it's not remotely tabloid, watching it feels like sneaking into therapy and hiding behind the couch while Pete, Carl, John and Gary let rip. "He doesn't trust me, and as far as I can tell it's too late to do anything about it" Pete gasps. Meanwhile Carl says it's "impossible to hang out" with Pete these days. "It's just the exhaustion" he sighs. But of course, barely anyone knows how tense the film is ahead of seeing it. Instead, there are hopes that tonight's premier, which comes 10 years to the week that Pete started writing "Time for heroes" will see the band come together once more. There are 1,700 eager fans crammed into the venue, and a couple hundred VIPs sat rattling their rosaries beads upstairs, wating in expectation.
NME first hears rumours that something is being planned to mark the occasion in December, when we're told off the record that the band may play some songs after the film. The following month, we hear Pete and Carl are holed up writing new material. By the time of the NME Awards in February, Michael Eavis reveals he's in talks to have the band play The Other Stage at Glastonbury festival. In short, things are looking good. But right now, on the red carpet at the Troxy, less so. We arrive to find the place abuzz with the word that Pete has pulled out at the last minute, seemingly because of an argument with Carl last week. When they turn up, the other three Libertines remain tight-lipped about his no-show. They all toe the party line when asked the same old questions. John says he hopes the band "can do more stuff together, but it's hard to know if and when" Gary echoes his sentiments, adding that they would "have to write more material" for it to be worthwhile" Carl, on the other hand, nonchalantly reveals that, while the other two seem happy to reunite this instant, he needs more time. "This closes a chapter" he says, forlornly about the night's proceedings. We ask if he can see himself working with Pete again in the future, to which he considers his response: "Possibly"
However, before anybody, because we're surrounded by hacks from the Daily Star, and Daily Mirror - can really press him on it, Carl is ushered upstairs to get his seat for the film. We're about to follow when the night's organiser excitedly bounds over to inform us that he's got word from Pete's camp that he is on his way in a taxi, having just left the swanky (and wanky) Shoreditch House a couple of miles up the road. Neither Pete nor his car make it to the venue. Instead, we shuffle inside to watch the film. It's fucking loud - the venue use the same speakers for the film as they do for their concerts - and is peppered with audience cat calls. These range from the silly ("I love you Carl/Pete!!) to the good natured ("Fucking get it together!") but when the credits finally roll the room is deflated. No gig. No band Q&A. No nothing. People file out as a DJ spins Libertines classics to an empty dancefloor. Then, in near-darkness on the roof of the Troxy, we speak to Carl. He's far more tense than usual, and before we can ask our first question, he's insisting we tell him what the "upthrust" of seeing the movie was for us. "How do you feel about everything now, any different?" he asks, bullishly. We reply by telling him that we're uncertain about the future of The Libertines...
Carl: "Maybe now you know how fucking fraught and difficult it is. Welcome to my world. Maybe you're a bit clearer now on how fucking difficult it is, and how, as it says in the film, "Blood from broken hearts write the words to every song". That doesn't make it fucking easy. So for everyone who says en masse "just do it" [reform] ...then you need a lot of broken hearts"
NME: So what's the future of the band?
Carl: "For me, this is the death knell of my Libertines press. I'm not gonna talk about this ever again. I don't want to. What's the fucking point? The film has said it all, if it made me happy like it did back in the day, then I'd do it and it'd be great.
NME: Are you and Pete in any contact at all?
Carl: "Yeah, we are. Phone calls. Ups and downs"
NME: Some people said that you had a fight, and that's why he isn't here tonight.
Carl: [Pauses] "Well, we are in very different places. And right now is not time for The Libertines. I thought the the water under the bridge was under the bridge, but maybe not. It's a very fucking hard thing. Every time we talk it just brings it back up."
NME: Brings what up?
Carl: "I'm not gonna get into the fucking tabloid soap opera of it. I'm just telling you how it stands right now. I don't wanna give it any false hope"
NME: From an outsider's perspective, the reunion seemed quite positive..
Carl: "It was positive, it was"
NME: It seems less so now.
Carl: "Because I refuse to make any kind of other record, recording or written song on the pain and nastiness and upset and anything negative that's happened in the past. If we do then it will be a bad record, so what's the fucking point?"
NME: Does Pete see it that way?
Carl: "No. It's really silly, and I wish he wouldn't"
NME: Are you hurt by it?
Carl: "I am. It's difficult. This is difficult."
At this point we're interrupted by a worried looking security guard. He isn't one of Carl's people, but a venue worker is convinced we're about to either fall off - or throw ourselves off - the building. Carl jokes that things aren't that bad as we move downstairs to continue. The momentary break actually serves to open him up a bit more.
NME: If the problems between Pete and yourself are so black and white, why not get together and sort them out properly?
Carl: "Look, obviously I'm still very emotional from the film. I'm sad, I'm happy, I'm angry. But The Libertines for me is a double-edged sword. Sometimes it's a poisoned chalice. I don't even know if I wanna say this to you because it'll just be endlessly syndicated in such a way that it's just gonna confine me to eking out Libertines interview and related stories for the rest of my life."
NME: Is that such a bad thing? We spoke to John earlier and he said he's happy to do that stuff, that he enjoys it.
Carl: "That's not the way I intend to go, whatsoever. I don't want to give you a false impression. I'll say it now, fucking finite, this draws a curtain on everything The Libertines have ever done.."
NME: But at present..that's it for the band?
Carl: "Right now, there is no Libertines future"
NME: Why not?
Carl: "I don't believe we're healed from the hurt. If our hearts heal up then we can break them all over again. But you know, right now...it's hard. I'm emotional from the film, I've got family here, I've had a couple of pints. And yeah, I'm confused with myself to be honest. But there is no overhang. There is no will they/won't they question. Right now it's not going to happen. If it does, then be surprised by it.
NME: Do the others know that too?
Carl: I think so. I think Gary and John have always known.
NME: Really? Gary didn't seem to say that on the red carpet. He was talking about new material.
Carl: "Gary's a beautiful human being. Listen, I'd love nothing more than to repeat that moment of the reunion gigs. But that moment was then. The reason I loved it so much? Because I knew it wouldn't be happening again in the near future. I knew then that that was the sum and final outing of everything we'd ever done as a band."
NME: So Reading/Leeds was The Libertines bowing out?
Carl: "I think we owed ourselves that gig. And we owed it to the world. So yeah"
NME: We hear that you and Pete have tried to work on new material together?
Carl: "Me and Pete have talked, but there's clearly still a lot of pain there between him and me. You saw the film, man. It's not easy, in fact this interview isn't easy"
Carl says he's eager to wrap things up now. Though he chirpily compares his mindset about the band to being "in a beautiful bar in the Midwest somewhere...." "The midwest of England though..", we press him on whether this really is the curtain being drawn on the Libertines tonight. "As I said, I don't really show the emotion that I'm feeling inside. This is only one eighth of the iceberg, what you see on the outside. But I'm doing other stuff now, I'm writing another solo album, I've got a baby boy, that's my life. Right now I'm into that. I need to heal. Especially after all this. This is the end of a very long, hard road for me"
NME: During the film, the thing that stood out was that you all looked really happy onstage, and then off it, it seemed like you loathed each other. It wasn't easy to watch.
Carl: "That's a good observation, I suppose. Onstage, when we are all together and it's bigger than the sum of it's parts, it beatific. It's monumental. It's a gargantuan bedazzlement of happines, to quote Moulin Rouge.."
NME: And offstage?
Carl: "It's a differen't story. So there you go."
With that, he's gone. Back to his friends. Back to his house, his kid. Away from The Libertines. The following night, we're recounting the story to a friend, who suddenly cuts us off. "I played with a band who were tour-managed by the guy who did The Libertines gigs last summer" he says. "You know it's all bollocks, don't you? The whole Carl and Pete hating each other thing. Pete's been to see Carl's bab loads of times this year. They get on great - It's just a media thing pretending to hate each other."
He's not untrustworthy, this guy. Not at all. And what he says could - just like the Munich thing - be completely true. But this writer doesn't believe him. The fact of the matter is this: The film sees the band speaking for themselves, loud and clear. For every Pete soundbite stating that a full blown reunion is simply "Down to Carl" there's a putdown in the form of Barat declaring something like "It's just not that easy" Likewise, when Carl announces that he wouldn't "feel complete as a person to not at least attempt to make another record with Peter" you can't help but be reminded of Doherty blunting stating: "It's almost like I've never wirrten a song with him now to be honest, the person that he is now..."
What's more, Carl, Gary and John have all come clean about the band's current situation tonight, while Pete not showing up tonight, or returning any of NME's subsequent calls, speaks for itself. Does he not give a shit about The Libertines anymore? Is he too hurt to hang out with or even speaking about the others? Has he said it all in the film anyway? Or, alternatively, maybe he genuinely is otherwise occupied at present? Two words: Fuck knows. Before the premiere, Roger Sargent told us that both Pete and Carl begged him to have the last line in the film. But as the credits roll, only one of them get's their wish. He's filmed fumbling around at the piano, half-pissed and trying to remember how to play one of The Libertine's oldest, most sincere songs. Their first proper paean to London "You're My Waterloo" But he can't remember the chords and keeps fucking it up. After a few attempts, Carl Barat abandons playing the song completely, turns to he camera, stares down the lens and says restlessly "Right, shall we do something different now?"
There is also a small side piece interview with Gary, in which he says that he thinks that the film was "heartfelt" and also "awkward", but "Being in The Libertines was always awkward, so why make a film about being comfortable in The Libertines." He also confirms that Peter and Carl had a fight recently, but that "Peter didn't remember it the next day. Pete never remembers and Carl never forgets. But when Carl is with pete, he forgets that he remembers. Pete smiles at Carl and it's all good"