Album stream: Prequel to the Sequel – plus why the new Babyshambles album took so long

ALBUM STREAM - The band’s Irish bassist Drew McConnell was knocked down by a car; Peter Doherty made a film with Charlotte Gainsbourg; and then The Libertines got back together. But with Babyshambles’ third album, ‘Sequel to the Prequel’, finally coming out, it’s all worth the wait, says McConnell

 

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So, what took you so long to follow up Shotter’s Nation? That was six years ago!
There was a few reasons. After the Shotter’s Nation tour wound down, Graham Coxon, Peter [Doherty] and myself went and made [Doherty’s] solo record, then we toured that. But besides the Libertines reunion, there was a period where Peter was concentrating on his acting career – he made a film with Charlotte Gainsbourg.I also had quite a severe accident about a year-and-a-half ago, where a car knocked me off my bike. We would have started to write and record the album then, but that postponed everything another couple of years. I’m about 90 per cent recovered from it.

‘Sequel to the Prequel’ is consistent throughout, but it’s also quite varied; there’s a good mix of punky tunes such as ‘Fireman’, and laid-back indie tunes such as ‘Fall from Grace’. You sound a lot tighter as a band ...
Yeah, definitely. We had a lot of fun recording it. Of all the recording sessions that we’ve done, this was the most seamless – everything seemed to sit perfectly and the dynamic was really good. Everyone was firing on all cylinders. We were playing well, everyone was getting on really well, there was a very amicable, jovial vibe in the studio. We’re all really comfortable with Stephen Street as a producer, now, too.

Babyshambles

You recorded it in Paris – why was that?
It’s because Peter lives there, and it seemed like a fun idea. We did the sums, and it was pretty much the same to buy a cheap studio in Paris. We found this great place around the corner from Peter’s place – and there are less distractions in Paris, too. When we record in London, because we all live there, it’s a case of ‘clock in, clock out, go home’. In Paris, it was a bit of a summer-camp vibe: we stayed in the same hotel, we’d have dinner together every night and breakfast together in the morning. It was a pressure-cooker environment in the best possible sense.

So much that has been written about Babyshambles in the past focuses on drugs and the problems that Pete has had, which must be frustrating for you. Has that been something that’s created problems in the past?
Y’know what? I think that anybody reading this piece will agree with me that it’s as boring for fans of the music as it is for us as a band. I think that the insistence on sensationalising that side of things is really boring, and I think journalists in general are barking up the wrong tree. We’ll sit down with a journalist and spend four hours talking to them: three and a half hours are spent talking about music, and half an hour is batting away questions about drugs. Then we’ll see the article in a magazine, and all the pull-quotes and headlines and the bulk of the story is about drugs. That’s boring to us, and it’s boring to the readers.

Given the trouble-free creative process behind this album, does it feel that the band is back on track now?
It does feel like we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet. After this slight hiatus, getting back into the routine of spending more and more time with Peter, with a couple of guitars strapped around our necks and seeing how easily the creativity and songs are still flowing – it feels like there’s a lot left in the tank. So I’m cautiously optimistic about the future.

What about the past? Any regrets about the last nine or 10 years?
Besides not getting on my bike that day? [Laughs] But then again, in the fullness of time, every cloud has a silver lining and I think the fact that I got smashed by a car certainly made me write a lot of good songs – if you can say that about your own songs. I’ve always been a bit shit at the Gallagher-esque swagger, but I do think we’ve written a bunch of belters. Hopefully everyone else will, too.

‘Sequel to the Prequel’ is released on Parlophone next Friday.

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