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the libertines
the libertines
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Photographer Roger Sargent gives us an insight into the boys in the band.

“A few years ago I was beginning to get to get disillusioned with what I was doing and the music industry in general,” says ex-NME photographer, Roger Sargent. “I was thinking about doing something else entirely until a friend of mine took me to see this band. The Libertines. After the show I just turned round to him and said, ‘I have to do this band.’ It was like, bam, the faith was immediately restored.”

Since then, Roger has been photographing possibly the only true rock’n’roll band of the last decade, and this weekend exhibits 150 of his best shots at Camden’s Proud Gallery. “Their story is quite unique. It makes what Liam and Noel got up to look tame by comparison,” says Roger. “I’ve had people say to me: ‘Great publicity, getting Peter sent to prison.’ And I’m like, ‘No. That really happened.’”

The exhibition includes pictures from their first ever shoot: “I could see they looked like an iconic band even before they were famous. Every time I clicked the shutter it was like, wow, that’s an amazing moment.” To the first gigs in America: “The American crowd really took to them. The Libertines are quintessentially English, and for some reason the Americans like it.” To the day Pete Doherty was released from prison: “Carl was quite nervous. He didn’t know what sort of reception he’d get from Peter. It was really emotional, the relief when Peter saw him.”

Part of the appeal of the pictures is the way they capture the volatile relationship of the band’s two frontmen. “You’ve got these personalities in the band that kind of thrive off each other, but also have a certain amount of destructive power towards each other. It makes for great art but it’s pretty painful to watch,” says Roger. “It’s unfortunate for the other guys in the band that so much of the attention gets focused on Peter and Carl, and as a photographer it’s difficult not to be drawn into that because there is such a chaotic chemistry between them. Subconsciously I’m always looking for that great Peter and Carl shot.”

So what does he think of the band’s forthcoming new album? “I find the album a little difficult to listen to because it’s so honest, and you don’t need a genius IQ to work out what the songs are about,” he says. “Can’t Stand Me Now still gets me a little bit. You could say, if you didn’t know anything about the band, that it was about a bloke and his bird. But we know it’s not. We know it’s about Carl and Peter."

So did the Libertines really rekindle his passion for music journalism? “Despite the fact that I’ve been doing this for 12 years, this is the first time everything has fired on all cylinders. It’s the right band, I like the people, they look great. This is how I imagined it to be. This is what I dreamt of doing when I was 14.”

Matt Walton 23 July 04
The Boys In The Band Presented By Sony Ericsson is at Proud Camden, 24-25 July 04. The Libertines – Can’t Stand Me Now, released 09 August 04 on Rough Trade. The album is out 30 August 04.

roger sargent on selected images
chatham gig
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“This may or may not be the new album sleeve. It’s one of my favourite shots. I just think it typifies the relationship with Pete and Carl: very close. Carl looks kind of protective about Pete, and even though it’s me it’s kind of like, ‘Back off.’”
listen to roger sargent on chatham gig
carl on the toilet
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“That’s Carl before the legendary CeeBeeGeeBees show. I don’t even remember the madness of the wall. When I got it back home I was like, ‘Bloody hell, what’s going on here?’ Carl just looks like a rock star without even trying. He’s probably not had sleep or changed his clothes for three weeks there.”
listen to roger sargent on carl on the toilet
the huddle
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“Before every show, the last thing they do before leaving the dressing room is the group huddle. They quietly start singing Scotland The Brave and it gets really loud until they’re shouting it. And they’re jumping up and down and spinning round. It’s quite unnerving if you’ve never seen it before.”
listen to roger sargent on the huddle
bowery ballroom
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“This is a bit of a favourite of mine. It’s at the end of the Bowery Ballroom show in New York. It must be 2002. This was the last of the New York shows they did and it was sold out. The American crowd really took to them.”
listen to roger sargent on bowery room
the old ladies
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“This is part of my campaign to have more rock stars with old ladies. Pete is the most mischievous man in the world and he just saw these people. Everybody else has gone on ahead and Pete decides to stand behind the old ladies and look at his watch, which he doesn’t actually have on his wrist. He stood there for about 10 minutes.”
listen to roger sargent on the old ladies
Read members' comments.
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