ONCE half of the most notorious indie duo of his generation, Carl Barât reckons he might actually be getting more sleep on the road than he does at home these days.
For after his solo UK tour concludes at The Leadmill tonight he’ll be returning to his other role, as a new dad.
“Yeah, I get less sleep at home believe it or not – you know how it is,” he says. As for the notion he hit the road for a break: “I wouldn’t tell my girlfriend that, but yeah, maybe.”
The former Libertines star has taken to his life change, even if it does mean yawning for reasons entirely different to the whirlwind Pete Doherty days.
“It’s more work than I anticipated, then it’s a lot more wonderful than I expected.
“I read somewhere it’s like having 20 alarm clocks set off around your house so you can never really relax. It is that kind of feeling.”
It’s also the main reason Carl rescheduled the tour for his self-titled solo album, but when we speak he’s enjoying his first major outing since he and Pete reunited The Libertines for Leeds and Reading festivals, the subject of a new Roger Sargent documentary called There Are No Innocent Bystanders.
“I always had a hunch at some point it would come together.
“It was quite a moment. It was a pay off I never thought we’d get, that we kind of deserved. I don’t mean financially, just in terms of actually getting it together. We were always a band that ‘could have’ but didn’t.”
In between times, while Pete formed Babyshambles, Carl delivered two albums with Dirty Pretty Things, the first maybe letting off the steam of frustration.
“It was really an extension of what I wanted to and couldn’t do with The Libertines,” he says.
“This album is in the direction of what I always wanted to make.
“Certainly it’s a step away from writing for a band. It helped me break out of that.”
Carl seems to have hit a purple patch. He has a new EP due May 2, containing four live recordings – his recording of unreleased Libertines track Grimaldi, a new take on Death Fires Burn At Night, a cover of Langly Sisters track Sing For My Supper and This Is The Song.
Carl exhibits a variety of styles on his album, from the romance of Ode To A Girl and The Fall to livelier elements such as The Magus, sounding a little like Ray Davies here and there. He’s an exponent of a songwriting demeanour that is fuelling newer bands such as Heartbreaks.
“The whole romance thing has come out a lot,” he says, deflecting the suggestion of specific aims for his album.
“Before it was all about escapism whereas this is the most introspective album I’ve ever done.
“All the songs are about my actual life as opposed to exorcising things. I was writing about escape, that’s the only conscious difference.
“Also I’m not having to write within the parameters of bass, drums and guitar. I had a palette to do anything and having done that it’s actually quite exciting.
“I realise there’s a lot more directions you can go.
“All the songs were written within quite a short period so I guess I’m more confident about putting it on the line and putting those things out there.
“And there was definitely a cathartic element. It’s funny because you do something for catharsis like a book or an album, you put your pen down or stop recording and go ‘I feel a lot lighter now’ and then suddenly your manager’s at the door and you’ve got to spend the next year going through it again. I’m looking forward to going on to the next thing.”
So does all this mark the calm after the storm?
“Maybe, or maybe just the calm in the eye of the storm,” says Carl, who has been looking forward to returning to Leadmill Road.
“There’s a story in my book about The Leadmill and Pete in some underpants. I’ve got lots of fond memories.
“I remember I played there with a broken arm and Josh Hubbard from The Paddingtons played guitar. That was a blinding gig.”
As for tonight’s setlist...our forecast is expect a bit of everything.
“I’ve not gone all purist yet. I’ll play a bit of old stuff and a bit of new stuff; I’ve got a pretty good balance. By the end of the gig, by the time the booze has kicked in it’s very easy to go ‘Let’s play a Libertines song’ so everyone can dance and be happy.”
With that in mind, could Carl contemplate working with Pete again?
“It was great being part of something inspiring. You can’t really ask for more in a band.
“The good thing about the Reading/Leeds gigs was it closed a chapter.
“Whether or not there’s another chapter is to be seen.
“Hopefully one day but right now that’s not where anyone’s at.
“Peter’s in Paris. I’ve not seen him since Reading but we’ve had textings and what not.
“My priority at the moment is not having a social with Peter or anyone else... I’ve got plenty to do.”