Cliftonville’s resident band The Libertines are a focus of national media for everything from their music and international gigs and singer Pete Doherty’s occasional scrapes to Dalby breakfast challenges and Carl Barat’s role in award-winning short film Running Man shot at the Walpole Bay Hotel.
Out of the limelight the band are part of the isle’s community, sponsoring Margate FC, bringing in visitors with the Albion Rooms hotel and Waste Land bar, taking part in the former Wheels and Fins festival in Broadstairs and giving a platform to local artists, performers and poets.
Co-frontman Carl Barát spoke to Kathy Bailes about why the lads love Margate and how he and his family plan to make the town their full-time home.
Walpole Bay, Dreamland and the isle’s treasure trove of antique and curio shops are among the attractions persuading Libertines co-frontman Carl Barát to move full time to Margate.
The musician and actor, who spends time each week at the band’s Albion Rooms hotel on Eastern Esplanade, says he, partner Edie Langley, and sons Eli, nine, and Ramone, six, aim to make Thanet home after falling in love with Margate on “so many different levels.”
Carl and bandmates Pete Doherty, John Hassall and Gary Powell recently announced the opening of seven rooms at the Albion hotel, bar, studios and restaurant – completing a three year transformation of the five storey Victorian building.
There is a distinctly local feel to the venue with art and design from town artist Chu, framing by Lovelys gallery in Cliftonville, the appointment of chef Joe Hill – who runs Table in Broadstairs – and supplies from Margate’s seaweed-based body care and perfumery business Haeckels; Junk Yard Deluxe, Paraphernalia, Scotts and Valentine’s Vintage in Whitstable.
Carl, 42, said: “I was in Margate, writing, for about six weeks. I’m there every week and am looking to move to Margate full time with my family. I love it on so many different levels, I love the light and the Old Town and its closeness to London and those communities. It was not massively affluent after the 90s and that attracted a lot of DFLs to start communities with local artists, creating a really nice energy.”
Carl says he particularly likes venues including Cliffs, the Digby, Table in Broadstairs and that the “rock pool, tidal pool, sands, arcades and Dreamland” make it a brilliant place for his boys.
He said: “Dreamland is pretty banging without being big and expensive. I also love all the antique, junk and curio stuff. I really like Sunny Vintage and Retro (in Northdown Road) and the second hand places.”
Carl, who has also checked out the offerings at Ramsgate’s Pettitcoat Lane Emporium, says the whole band has a love of cool curio items, which is evident in the art and furnishings of the hotel and bar, and all enjoy being part of Thanet’s community.
He said: “We all have a real affinity with the place and are really happy to be part of the community and hopefully of service by bringing people down here.”
Buying the Albion Rooms in 2017 has given the band a real base to work together. The studio, which was the first area to be completed and has been used by numerous local and out of town artists, gave the lads a “standard to match,” for the rest of the venue.
Carl said: “It means we can make the most of the area and the most of what we do as a band. Before we didn’t have a physical building to share and were all living separate lives This gives us an organic unity and where we are is inspirational as well.”
The building work may now be complete but there are more projects on the cards, including the launch of Wasteland Live, an internet based show with presenters, guests, special sessions and more.
— The Albion Rooms (@Albion_Rooms_) September 28, 2020
Carl said: “We will have big and small bands, records, guests who have inspired us, live sets, studio sessions, and local bands as we do everything we can to make sure we include everyone.
“It’ll be a show in our own unique, special style.”
Keep up to date with the goings on at the Albion Rooms and book your hotel stay at www.thealbionrooms.live