Pete Doherty at Trinity

Despite the two and a half hour delay, Pete Doherty’s appearance at the Phil still caused quite a stir. The prospect of seeing the ex-Libertines and Babyshambles singer created the biggest queue since Al Pacino paid a visit to Trinity, with the line of people stretching all the way from the steps of the GMB to the Dining Hall.  

This wasn’t Doherty’s first trip to Trinity, as Babyshambles, along with Kate Moss, made a memorable appearance at the Trinity Ball back in 2005. According to Doherty it wasn’t the best of nights: “it was a bit of a disaster, that one. My guitarist got the fear mid-way through, he said I was looking at him funny and threw down his guitar and ran off… terrible night it was.” 

Doherty also talked about his friendship with Pogues frontman Shane McGowan. When asked where he first met McGowan, Doherty replied: “Honestly, it was on the floor at a party. He said, “congratulations, you’re now the most obnoxious man in pop.” Those were his first words to me…. It’s hard to understand what he says a lot of the time but when you do work it out, it’s generally quite insightful and yeah, he’s taught me a lot. He’s quite into his history as well.” 

Doherty has recently come back from a brief spell in Paris, which afforded him a break from the constant papparazi attention he attracts in London: “I always thought I was going to end up there – Paris or Moscow – it was self-imposed exile. I was there for about a month in November, but I’ve lived there before. Yeah, it’s a magical place. I tend to get left alone there a bit more than in London, I’m free to walk about, apart from when the school’s are out, it’s half an hour of chaos.” 

Doherty’s year got off to a good start, when he played with the legendary Roger Daltrey, from The Who: “[Daltrey] got in contact with me through the Teenage Cancer Trust, he’s quite heavily involved with that. A couple of years ago he said something quite hurtful. He said I was a waste of space, and I wasn’t big or clever and it had all been done before and all this. And then he phoned me up after I’d been to the funeral of a young man, who’d died of cancer, and he said, Well Pete, I don’t take back what I said, but you’ve proved yourself now in my eyes, what sort of man you are, so if you need anything, anything, just call me. So I said, ‘can you do a gig with me?’  

Doherty also spoke about his experience of interviewing Paul McCartney: “My mum had given me this chip fork to give him, ‘coz she’s from Liverpool and she was like, ‘what are you going to give to a Scouser who’s got everything – a silver chip fork’ and I was like, yeah that’s a great idea, mum. So I gave it to him all expectant and he just put it in his pocket and looked at me a bit strange…. I was asking him about some of the things they used to get up to on tour with the Beatles. You hear about the Rolling Stones and the total decadent rock bands, but the Beatles were the baddest of all, but it was all kept quiet… they were bumming everything in sight.” 

When asked who were the people who have influenced him the most, Doherty replied:

Noone really, I’ve done it all on my own. I’m quite a lonely character. Most of my friends are dead and have been for hundreds of years. I quite like cats. (Pauses.) Do you know what, I don’t actually like cats so much… it started off fine but now they’ve just taken over, they’ve just expanded. It’s like lemmings- remember that computer game?”

“I’m trying to keep the population under control, it’s about 12 now. But I mean, they’re so smelly, it’s disgusting. I’m trying to get to grips with the philosophy of cats, as it were. I’ve bought a book about the psychology of cats, trying to get inside their heads, but they just piss on the duvet. They don’t care.” 

Doherty was unsurprisingly quite reluctant to talk about his time in Wormwood scrubs, but said: “You’ve got to make the best of a bad situation. To be honest, everything I did write in there, or most of what I wrote, makes for pretty depressing reading, just self pity and wallowing in it, just sat on that bed all day every day and if you’re lucky you get strip-searched after dinner and that’s the highlight of the day really.” 

Doherty also spoke at length about his music and his new solo album: “I’ve reverted back to where I came from, where I started out. Songs like ‘Albion’ and ‘Music When The Lights Go Out’, they were quite ballady and slow and they were the first songs. Then The Strokes came along and our manager said “Look, you’re going to have to speed everything up if you want to get signed.” So we did that.  

When we first got in the limelight, we were so deranged and angry and a bit twisted, that we’d just get on stage and turn it up as loud as we could, whack it out and get off as quickly as we could. There was a lot of frantic, nervous energy and it was all a bit more aggressive and chaotic, and then we just calmed down a little bit, sadly.” 

When asked what was his favourite song that he’d written, Doherty replied: “Maybe ‘Back From the Dead’, just because I tend to find when I’m lacking in inspiration I tend to go back to them chords, it’s just something about them… it’s just kind of mournful and sad and no-one’s worked out where I’ve nicked it from. And ‘Don’t Look Back into the Sun’ I quite like as well.” 

Doherty also played a short acoustic set, which included “Last of the English Roses”, the first single from his new album, Grace/Wastelands.

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