Carl Barat: Why I formed a band using Facebook
When Carl Barat founded The Libertines it was with his best mate Pete Doherty. But, as the group imploded amid tales of burglaries and drug taking, their relationship suffered badly. Now, the singer-guitarist has had enough of forming bands with friends and recruited strangers entirely through Facebook.
I suggest to Barat that hand-picking band members from a long list of hopefuls is a bit like going on a dating site.
You click various boxes, such as smoker/non-smoker, and hopefully end up with someone compatible.
"Yes it is a bit," he laughs down the phone.
We're talking about his new band The Jackals, for which the singer-guitarist recruited members with an advert on Facebook, in January.
"It's turned out to be a great way of doing things," he says. "I'm actually amazed by the comeback. I thought it might just be a couple of jokers, but there were over 1,000 applicants.
"I sent it out across the world really and loads of people responded, from Mexico, America and Japan.
"But, I ended up taking everyone from the Swindon area instead!"
In fact members - guitarist Billy Tessio, bassist Adam Claxton and drummer Jay Bone - hail from Portsmouth and Brighton as well as Swindon.
Compatibility appears now a key element for Barat, whose experience of forming bands with good mates has become the stuff of legend.
Anyone who followed the trials and tribulations of The Libertines will know about the intense and stormy friendship between Barat and Doherty.
The pair formed the band in 1997, but the two albums they released before breaking up in 2004 were set against a background of bitter wrangling.
Doherty's crack cocaine and heroin habit, recording sessions that required security staff and finally Doherty's prison sentence for burgling Barat's flat, sealed the band's fate.
The bittersweet relationship between the pair was immortalised in the Libertines 2004 single Can't Stand Me Now, which reached number two in the charts.
While the pair have patched things up enough to play a reunion gig in 2010, and another this July, Barat has now dropped the idea of friends in bands.
"The thing is when you take a friend on for a band, the fact that they're your friends means they're not likely to bend to your will as it were," he says.
"It's not that I want a subordinate band, it's just that I want to pick people who have the right attitude and play well."
So a tailor-made band could be just what Barat needs.
His other band Dirty Pretty Things, formed with musician mates including Libertines drummer Gary Powell, fizzled out in 2008 after only three years.
The recruitment process for The Jackals involved listening to all 1,000-plus demos and whittling musicians down to 50 and inviting them to take part in auditions.
"I was very lucky, I didn't know what I was going to get," he says.
"We've got some really talented people and passionate players, and just a refreshing attitude."
Barat, originally from Whitchurch near Basingstoke, chose Reading for the band's debut gig.
"Reading is central to all the band, so it's a bit of a local gig for us," he says.
The Reading Festival is also the last venue he performed at with The Libertines, four years ago.
That band's reunion coincides with Barat's new band - which also comes as he prepares to become a father for the second time and while he is filming the lead role in a French film.
"I like to keep myself busy," he says. "It just so happens [The Jackals] is coming at the same time as The Libertines.
"But, you never know when The Libertines is going to come along."