Photography by Mr Angelo Pennetta, Styling by Mr Dan May
Words by Mr Johnny Davis
Mr Barât is shaping up to be something of a Renaissance man. The 32-year-old rocker, best-known as the more reliable co-frontman of The Libertines alongside Mr Doherty, has spent the last three years exploring disciplines as diverse as acting (he played Mr Gene Vincent in the film Telstar: The Joe Meek Story and appeared on the London stage in the play Fool For Love), writing (he published an autobiography Threepenny Memoir: The Lives of a Libertine) and a solo career (last October's Carl Barât album was well-received).
After fronting Dirty Pretty Things for two albums, in 2010 Mr Barât put his differences with Mr Doherty behind him to reform The Libertines for a handful of live shows - which included headlining the Reading and Leeds Festivals - earning some of the best reviews of their careers. A born worrier, the otherwise jovial Mr Barât discussed his career with MR PORTER over a couple of Singapore Slings one Friday night. "The worst thing fans ask is, 'When are The Libertines getting back together?'" he said. "The best is when they say you've inspired them to get into music."
Born in Basingstoke, near London, to a sometime artist (dad) and member of a counterculture group (mum), Mr Barât grew up in a commune and studied drama at university before dropping out to start The Libertines. They would go on to become the defining British band of the Noughties, influencing countless others. While Mr Doherty cut a more unhinged appearance, Mr Barât was the handsomer half of the pairing - always looking good in a leather jacket.
What are you up to at the moment?
I'm doing an EP, re-releasing my solo album [2010's Carl Barât] with some extra tracks, and I'm about to start my next project. It's rather more conceptual than what I've been doing in the past. I've had this idea for a screenplay. Well, it started life as a screenplay. We'll see how it manifests itself. I don't really want to get onto what it's about, or I just know I won't bother writing it.
Your autobiography was full of tales of groupies and drugs. It was very honest.
Yeah, it was that. If it hadn't been honest, people wouldn't have given it the time of day. It was a cathartic process. It helped close a chapter, but at the same time it made it quite difficult because I ended up having to talk about the book endlessly in the press afterwards, so I had to revisit every story.
The cover art for your solo album - a self-portrait taken in the mirror - was a bit of a departure for you. Why did you do it that way?
It certainly was. I had mixed reactions on that one. My idea was that I wanted it to be what the record was about, really. Which was a mirror reflection of me and my pregnant missus, looking at things in a different way.
One magazine said it looked like an advert for 'Eau de Barât'.
Ha! 'Course they did. I had to speak to my lawyer about something and he goes, "Yeah, I saw you this morning on a poster on the tube. Nice ponytail." Hang about - what? I've never had a ponytail. Heaven forbid. It was then that I started to worry...
What would 'Eau de Barât' smell like?
I'd probably just nick some Chanel ALLURE and put that in a bottle.
HOW THEY WERE
Mr Pete Doherty and Mr Barât backstage at a concert in Southend, UK, 2002. The pair's onstage magnetism and off-stage antics were well documented in the press, right up to the band's split in late 2004
RUN WITH THE BOYS
The video for Mr Barât's debut single follows a group of young-at-heart London pensioners on a drink-fuelled all-nighter
GOING IT ALONE
The much talked-about album cover for Mr Barât's self-titled solo work, which was released last October to coincide with the publication of his autobiography, Threepenny Memoir: The Lives of a Libertine
You are clearly interested in style and you're rarely seen without a leather jacket. But who wore it best: Mr Lou Reed or Mr Marlon Brando?
I think Brando. Tough old sexy biker in On The Waterfront. I get put off Lou Reed by how crabby and grouchy he is. I saw him sitting outside a house in Kentish Town [a fairly grim north London suburb] cross-legged, doing his tai chi. I couldn't believe it was him. But his cousins live on that street. I'm totally serious. They grew up with John Hassall, the bass player in The Libertines. Not what you expect to see in Kentish Town is it? Lou Reed in the lotus position.
Will The Libertines play again in 2011?
That's looking unlikely at the moment, to be honest. We did that last year. We've all got other stuff going on.
How is Pete these days?
Well. He seems to be really focused. He's doing his acting. [Mr Doherty is appearing in a biopic of 19th-century French poet Alfred de Musset, with the actress Ms Charlotte Gainsbourg, due out later in the year]. All reports are good ones. I keep texting him.
What do people underestimate about your job?
For me, I guess it would be the worry. It took a while, but I finally realised I was taking the depression and the whinging too far and I felt guilt for everyone who didn't have the luxury [of my life]. That moment came when I was lying on a LI-LO in Miami, sun beating down, an underwear model swimming underneath me, drinking a pint. The photographer above me taking photos said, "Cheer up!" And I went, "Why am I so miserable? This is absolute insanity!" Travel, people being nice to you, people being influenced by what you've done? Life isn't that bad.