Pete Doherty: “The only way to stay healthy is to be sober and abstain. It takes a lot of willpower. »

March 03, 2024 / Jerome Goulon

Pete Doherty, the enfant terrible of British rock, has changed a lot! Long pursued by his image of a gaunt rocker, undermined by drugs and alcohol, he now sports a very different look, with graying hair, a mustache and excess weight due to his withdrawal. While he has just finished recording his next album with his group The Libertines, which will be released in early 2024, he opens up and tells us about his new life...

Interview: Hello Pete. You now live in France, in Étretat, in Normandy, with your wife Katie de Vidas. Have you changed your life since your time marked by many excesses?
Pete Doherty: Yes. I live in Normandy with my wife, I raise chickens and dogs and we have just welcomed a little girl. I'm trying to be sober...

With your group The Libertines, you have just finished recording your next album, which will be released in early 2024. An album composed in your hotel, The Albion Rooms, in Margate (England). Tell us about this place…
With Carl Barât (member of The Libertines and co-owner of the hotel, Editor's note), we transformed this Victorian hotel into a popular gothic-hipster Bed & Breakfast, with a concert hall. It has become our group's headquarters, dedicated to music. There is no television in the rooms. In each room, there are books, records and a record player. 

You've been banned from your own hotel. For what?
At one point, I was in fact no longer allowed to enter the hotel. Carl Barât did not appreciate that I brought certain people in. It had become a place of annihilation and chaos, and so I myself was banished... 

It is reported that right after, you slept in containers...
Yes, it's true. I lived in a storage container in Ramsgate. I tested several: a container located under the Westway highway, one in Hamburg, one in Puerto Rico. But the one at Ramsgate was by far the best. There was even electricity and a lock! (Laughs)

Let's get back to the music. In England, some criticism has been quite virulent about the return to the forefront of Britpop groups such as Blur, Pulp and yours, The Libertines. In your opinion, Britpop is not dead? 
No, Britpop is not dead! Those who want to bury us are like they are trying to put Jesus to rest. And look what happened: Jesus came back from the dead! I consider those who make Britpop to be living Gods: Jarvis Cockers, Graham Coxons, Damon Albarns, even the Gallagher brothers. Why would we deprive ourselves of the pleasure of timeless music? 

During your career, you have often been talked about for your excesses. However, you are the son of military parents and you were raised in a very strict environment. Did that create frustration for you?
When I was growing up, I wasn't allowed to attend music festivals. It was forbidden fruit, a kind of mystical realm of adventure and wonder. When I was a kid, I always swore to myself that one day I would play at a festival myself… 

This is what you managed to do. With the excesses that followed…
Yes. At my lowest, I even almost lost my feet, just from the drug injections. This is what happens when you can't even find your veins to prick yourself. But it all seems far away now… I was caught in a whirlwind. At the height of my fame, I sometimes felt like I was being carried around like a fucking tin can being used as an ashtray at a party...

During your chaotic years, you were stalked by the paparazzi. I understand that the trip to New York and Harry and Meghan reminded you of those years, and that you have some advice to pass on to them…
Yes. It really caught my attention to see Prince Harry in this bizarre high-speed car chase through New York. When I saw this, it made me want to give some very simple advice to Harry and Meghan. I suggest they pay kids in the streets to attack paparazzi cars. It's radical!

Is that what you were doing yourself?
I used to carry an old police baton with me, and I would charge the paparazzi with it. I miss it. I also had an old Zulu spear which came in handy on several occasions… 

You recently posted a video on Instagram in which you explain how ice baths and breathing exercises help you get rid of cravings for crack and heroin... Your demons continue to pursue you despite your efforts to lead a new life ?
I realize that the only way to stay healthy is to be sober and abstain. But for me, it takes a lot of willpower and discipline. It is not easy… 

Does life in France calm you down today?
Yes. The calm, relaxed pace of French life suits me better than that of London. Seeing my little girl calms me down. She eats, sleeps and leads a rather charming little life. When I look at her, I think inside: “You will never be as happy as you are right now. » I keep telling him that. To which my wife replies: “Don’t say that!” Our daughter is going to have a full life and many happy moments! » 

Are you happy today?
Yes, I am in a state of perpetual happiness. All I need to be happy right now is my Hunter Thompson essay collection, my police baton, and my newborn baby! (Laughter)