December 8 2013 Latest news:
By Alan Davies
Friday, October 4, 2013
PETER Doherty’s band Babyshambles are scheduled to come to Hatfield next week for a live date.
“STEPHEN Hawking tried to put his finger on it – how wobbly particles just metamorphosize out of nothing into life. That’s a bit like what happened with this album...”
Babyshambles frontman Peter Doherty is sitting in the Paris sun, gamely trying to explain the winding road that has been the last six years.
It’s been that long since Babyshambles released an album, but somehow – to the surprise of band members, fans and friends alike – they have crashed into the top 10 again, with 12 new songs up their collective sleeve.
Recorded in Paris, Sequel To The Prequel, released through Parlophone Records, is the band’s most accomplished collection of songs to date and will feature heavily in the group’s live set when they play a gig in Hatfield next week.
From the album’s lead single, Nothing Comes To Nothing – hailed “a return to sprightly form” by NME – to the spirit of 77 punk squall that is Fireman, to the ballad Fall From Grace, it’s a record that’s full of twists and turns.
The real story behind its genesis, though, is that Babyshambles are lucky to be here at all.
“It was a shambles,” says Peter about the state of play before work began on the group’s third album.
“We had no communication, no direction. And that was enough for us to be lost at sea – because without communication you can’t have anything.”
Guitarist Mik Whitnall adds: “To be honest, there was a point not so long ago where I thought, ‘Well, that’s it – Babyshambles is well and truly over’.”
The reason for this doomy outlook? Firstly, Peter now lives full-time in Paris, while the rest of the band are in London, which means way more planning.
And planning is hardly Babyshambles’ strong point, with countless gigs starting late or even postponed at short notice.
And secondly? Tragedy. In July 2011, Babyshambles bassist Drew McConnell, who was on his bike, was involved in a serious traffic accident in London.
Drew suffered horrific injuries, breaking three vertebrae in his spine, five ribs, a shoulder and a knee. He spent the remainder of the year trying to piece his life back together, even having to learn how to walk again.
It’s safe to say that for a long time, a new Babyshambles album was not at the forefront of his mind.
“I’m alright man, I’m alright,” Drew says now. “I still have to do lots of physiotherapy, because I broke some vertebrae, one of which was really badly shattered.
“So I’m going to have to do a lot of physiotherapy for the rest of my life.
“But I don’t mind that. At one point I might never have been able to walk again, so I just feel happy to be in a position where I can do that, and where I can get my life back to being pretty normal again.”
The upshot of all this, aside from Drew’s new health kick, is that the bass guitarist suddenly found himself with a lot of fire in his belly.
A period of recuperation in Spain wielded a set of new songs which, by chance, Peter took a shine to a few months later.
Summing up how important the new album is to him, Drew adds: “The thing is, even though the three of us were apart beforehand, we’ve found out that we’ve still got this great sense of togetherness, despite everything.
“And I don’t think that will ever go. In fact, I think that’s why we do work so well together.”
Peter adds: “I’ve realised there’s a hunger there for me – not for not having enough to eat, let’s make that clear – but to be in this band.
“It’s intrinsically a part of me, I think. And it’s taken this album to really remind myself of that.”
* Babyshambles visit The Forum Hertfordshire, in College Lane, Hatfield, on Friday, October 11.