Down In Albion: The Libertines
The Libertines’ John Hassall talks about the band’s Margate ‘homecoming’
Since reforming, The Libertines have been busy; not only touring and writing new music, but moving their focus to Kent, and in particular, Margate.
Not only have the ban just become the sponsor of non-league Margate Football Club, but in January it was announced that The Albion Rooms hotel would also open in the seaside town.
Peter Doherty, Carl Barât, John Hassall and Gary Powell have also worked closely with the six-year-
old Wheels & Fins festival which, this year, brings its biggest ever musical line-up to the cliff top of Joss Bay.
Not only will they headline the main stage on the Sunday of the three day festival, but they have even curated their own Sharabang line-up to support them on the day.
We caught up with bassist John Hassall, to find out just why they love Thanet so much.
HI JOHN, WE KNOW YOU WERE VISITORS BEFORE, AND NOW YOU HAVE THE HOTEL HERE, SO THE QUESTION IS, WHY MARGATE?
After we got back together we always wanted to have a base. Somewhere in common, and the Albion Rooms is a manifestation of that. It's close to London and the beach and there are loads of cool things happening there. Musicians, artists, shops, history. Peter's bought a boat so we're all going to go sailing in it, too.
IN MUCH OF YOUR WORK THERE ARE REFERENCES TO “ALBION” AND OLDER SAYINGS AND PHRASES, WHERE DOES THIS LOVE FOR BRITISH TRADITION COME FROM?
I guess in the UK we place a lot of emphasis on our tradition and history, and there is a colourful history to draw on. It's not the only tradition and history that we're interested though! Cultural exchange is really important now in this time of globalisation. Something that can transcend politics and economy and bring peace.
DOES THIS FEED INTO YOUR LOVE OF MARGATE, AS A RETRO COASTAL DESTINATION?
Definitely. There's so many fascinating stories and photos of the Margate of yore. It's still there.
IS IT MORE ABOUT THE BEACH, THE BIG WHEEL AND THE ARCADES OR IS IT THE CREATIVITY THAT HAS SPRUNG UP HERE THAT ATTRACTS YOU?
Both really. The location and the vibe. Not so much the arcades!
SOME PEOPLE ARE DESCRIBING MARGATE AS SHOREDITCH-ON-SEA. WHAT DO YOU THINK?
There are lots of young Londoners moving here. there's a lot of new energy and creativity coming, too. So I think it must be a positive.
NOW YOU ARE DOWN IN MARGATE ALOT MORE, WAS IT ALWAYS THE PLAN TO SUPPORT SMALLER, LOCALISED FESTIVALS SUCH AS WHEELS & FINS?
I think it's really important to be engaged with one's local community. Lasting social change will only happen as a positive movement of ordinary people as well as on a governmental level. Just creating friendships with your neighbours is a great start.
YOU HAVE CURATED YOUR OWN SUPPORT ACTS, AND NAMED THE DAY ‘SHARABANG,’ WHO ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING?
All of them! Chas and Dave playing "Down to Margate" will be great. They'd better play it!
WE UNDERSTAND YOU HAVE BEEN IN THE STUDIO RECENTLY, CAN FANS EXPECT ANY NEW MUSIC DURING YOUR SET?
Maybe! We've got about three new songs on the go, so we should try and pull our fingers out and finish them off.