Interview: Pete Doherty, musician

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OVER the years, Pete Doherty has played some memorable gigs in these parts. He’s also had some memorable headlines, like the time he made the front page of the Evening News after trying to buy drugs from a stunned Edinburgh newsagent the morning after his gig in the city in 2006.

The red-tops would have us believe that such shenanigans are all in a day’s work for the man whose name is often prefixed by the word ‘Potty’, and he says himself he can’t wait to return to a city he always has “fun” in.

“Really looking forward to coming back,” beams the most notorious rock star of his generation, speaking ahead of his visit to Liquid Room on Wednesday, where he will perform solo material alongside hits from both Babyshambles and The Libertines back catalogues.

“Scottish audiences are always the best, but it’s been a while since I’ve played Edinburgh.

“Have a surprise or two lined up for you... can’t wait for it,” he promises.

Doherty, who was recently released from prison after doing time for the possession of cocaine (“it was a rotten old time”), assures us he’s winning his battle with substance abuse and says he just wants to get on with the business of playing live again.

“I can’t tell you the sense of relief now I’m finally free to crack on with my life,” says the 32-year-old.

Doherty has taken extreme risks in his life, but he reckons the most frightening thing he’s ever done is putting out an album with only his name on the cover, 2009’s solo offering Grace/Wastelands.

“They kept telling me in rehab that I had self-esteem problems, so I went along with it, but it didn’t really register” he says. “Now I can really see that, because I don’t really believe people when they tell me that they love the record or enjoy listening to the songs.

“Maybe I’m just warped, you know?” he adds.

Doherty, who assembled a new band, Babyshambles, after he was kicked out of The Libertines in 2004 for excessive drug use, has provoked extreme reactions during his career, either being proclaimed a poet genius or dismissed as a talentless, self-important junkie. He’s well aware that his will always be a name that divides public opinion.

“Nothing I do is in any way aimed at changing how I’m perceived or how I’m presented,” he sighs. “It’s completely impossible.”

Unsurprisingly, Doherty doesn’t think that he’s represented fairly by the press in this country.

“I don’t really see it as me in a way,” he says. “It’s like this media creation.”

The singer goes on to add that the version of himself that appears in the papers is “evil” and not an accurate portrayal.

“I call him my evil twin, this fella they’ve created,” he smiles. “Looks a little bit like me, apart from he’s filthy and he’s always pulling a weird expression or doing something violent or illegal.

“I’d like to meet him - actually I dunno if I would like to meet him,” he adds, laughing.

On a more sombre note, Doherty was great friends with Amy Winehouse, and the singer admits that her recent death has left him numb.

“Coming to terms with what has happened is almost impossible,” he says. “It’s hard to think she’s not with us anymore.”

Pete Doherty, Liquid Room, Victoria Street, Wednesday, 7pm, £20.70, 0131-225 2564