Adam Kennedy talks with Libertines bass player John Hassall about the band's new album and impending sold-out Stockton date.

Indie/rock legends The Libertines will release their fourth studio album entitled, All Quiet On The Eastern Esplanade in March. The band’s latest long player marks their first album since 2015’s Anthems For Doomed Youth.

But how are the band feeling ahead of the album release? “I think we came away from the recording of it very positive. I think we were extremely excited. Everyone in the band is very proud of the album. And it feels like we've kind of developed as a band as well. So that’s exciting to see whether people like that?” explains John. “It's almost secondary now because we like it and we are proud of it, so no one can take that away from us. Hopefully, everyone will like it, that's the plan.”

So, the story goes, the making of All Quiet On The Eastern Esplanade goes like this - in September ’22 Libs glimmer twins Pete Doherty and Carl Barât decamped to Geejam in Port Antonio, Jamaica. Away from any distraction, the chemistry between the infamous songwriting partnership began to bubble in earnest.

Fast forward to February '23 and Peter and Carl regrouped with rock-solid knaves to the rhythm, John and Gary, at The Albion Rooms. “We did a lot of background work, we met up and did a writing session for about four weeks,” explains John. “Not that much of the concrete things came out of that session. But I think that we really laid the groundwork for how we function as a band. We didn’t actually come away from it with ten songs, but we learned how to work as a band in the studio, which we've never really done before. So, we did all that fundament in the last couple of years. And then, finally we got the dates put in the diary, and it just went really fast.”

The Northern Echo: Stockton Braces Itself for The Arrival of The Libertines

Perhaps you could say that Margate has almost become a spiritual home for the band. The album title is a nod to their hotel’s street address in the seaside town. The hotels in house studio at The Albion Rooms was one of the locations used to record the group's new release. But how much did working in the band's homely and somewhat familiar studio aid the recording process? "I hadn't really considered this before, but the environment where you are recording is very important. Because everything about the sound, which equipment you're using, the space that you're using, it adds up, so you get a flavour of the place that you’re recording - it comes out, so it is really important. We could have maybe done it elsewhere. But I think it would definitely have had an impact on the sound of the album.” says John.

It has been said that the group’s latest release is perhaps the best album of their career thus far. “I think everyone in the band loves this album, and we think that it's our best album. You know, who knows? Time will tell, but I think we came away from recording feeling wow, we got a good album here. I think it's the best post-recording feeling we've had. I'm very positive about it,” said John. “I think also, with the album, you have to look at it as a whole. You can pick out certain songs, but I think they’re all good songs, strong songs I would say.”

The Northern Echo: Stockton Braces Itself for The Arrival of The Libertines

The second single to be released from the album Night of the Hunter has been described as a Shakespearean tale of blood and revenge. The song's poetic lyrics and cinematic music video paint a vivid picture. "It's not a very comfortable subject to be talking about - about people, about crime, about prison, about drugs. And the video is pretty dark. I showed it to my wife, and she was like, wow, that's really dark. But then I thought, well, actually, it is really dark. But to be honest, we were living in dark times. We're living with two major conflicts going on in the world and environmental crises and stuff like that. So, it is a dark time. And I think, if you compare it to our old videos with us jumping about without a care in the world, that was a different time.”

He adds: “It's not like we're going about lamenting the fact that the world is rubbish and stuff like that. There's a lot of positives in there. There are some bad parts to our world, but we're not defeated. There's also beauty in poetry and the video. At the end of the video, you see him doing his ballet, which is Grace within that kind of darkness.”

New album aside, The Libertines will be taking to the road across the UK for an intimate run of dates starting at the ARC in Stockton on the 23rd of Jan. When asked if the artist was looking forward to the tour, he said: "Very much so. We have played some of the songs live. We did it for the first time last month. We kind of test-drove them in concert. I think, to be honest; you just have to play them in, there's no other way of doing it. You have to play them a lot before they sit in with the other ones. So, we're going to have to work at that, which is great,” explains John. “It's a challenge; we have to make this work musically with these new songs. So, it's exciting.”

Of course, the band’s current run will be some of the most intimate dates they have played in some time. “We're doing these really small gigs, which is great. And we did four small gigs in Margate last month. It was really different playing to 200-300 people when we are used to playing to a lot more.”

Subsequently, it is no surprise that the band's forthcoming show at the ARC sold out almost immediately. "I love the spirit up north,” declares John.

The Libertines will perform at the ARC in Stockton on the 23rd of Jan with support from Benefits and Bear Park. The band's new album, All Quiet On The Eastern Esplanade, will be released on the 8th of March. For further information, please visit: