More about: The Libertines
"Music is so important - it gives you a whole different world to either escape in or understand yourself better," Carl Barat tells Gigwise, pondering the battles with anxiety endured by himself and bandmate Pete Doherty, and the road back. "For someone with anxiety, music can give someone a voice through ideas. It can help you identify with the world and find something to be a part of. It's such an important way to cope with anxiety and depression."
Few artists have been through the mill quite like The Libertines - let alone under such an intense spotlight held by tabloid vultures. Through heartbreak, drugs, squabbles, run-ins with the law and enough drama to fill endless seasons of VH1's Behind The Music, the likely lads now seem on much firmer ground - after a few years of acclaimed reunion shows, they released one of 2015's best albums with Anthems For Doomed Youth.
That's not to say it's been entirely smooth sailing. Last year saw a full and frank admission from the band after gigs in Camden and Manchester were cancelled when Doherty suffered a severe anxiety attack. But, forever fighting back, the boys in the band are now nearing the end of an epic victory lap, with their arena tour drawing a close in Bournemouth and London before heading to Europe. Reviews of the shows have been glowing, and they're on the finest of form, clearly finding solace in the music.
"There are those songs that you fell in love with," smiles Barat, "they'll never let you down - will they?"
But naturally, handling anxiety becomes all the more complicated when in the limelight, but Barat's advice is simple: make the most of the good times, control what you can, ignore the unknown.
"There are varying opinions of us out there, but I have to rely what I know - not what trolls might say," he admits. "If there are people interacting with us in a room, then I'll go with that rather than some smart arse comment in a paper or online. If you're dealing with anxiety then you have to come up with a coping mechanism to protect yourselves from them. Go with what you know."
He chuckles before putting his faux-philosopher voice and eloquently concluding: "There's that idea, Occam's Razor - cut off that which you have no control over, or what you don't know to be the absolute truth. That helps."
One absolute and unifying truth Barat can enjoy is his rekindled brotherhood with Pete, John and Gary - a connection that runs deep and is pretty infectious once you're in its presence. On record, on stage, backstage and beyond, The Libertines today are a bunch of friends not only back in love with music, but each other.
"Our chemistry is at the forefront of what we do, you can't fake it and none of us would be interested in that," nods Barat. "It's pretty strong on stage and off. It's more about getting back into your lifestyle. I've always felt like a Libertine, but since 2010 it's been like getting my family back together."
Happy families they may be, but now that the comeback process is complete and they've proven themselves through and through, what happens now? Are the band working on new material and already penning the next chapter?
"Yes, bits and bobs - we've had lots of ideas coming up on the road," says Barat, not giving too much away. "The actual making of the record will come afterwards, but ideas are coming together. I'll be doing something different with The Jackals soon, then we'll see how things go."
So is this cheerio for now, or might they pop up again at festivals this summer?
"I think everyone will be sick of us by then," he laughs. "Over the last 18 months we've been everywhere. We'll probably give England a break from The Libertines, come up with some new stuff - there won't be the same presence as last year."
And what a year it's been. The return of The Libertines has given the world a pretty sweet escape. Don't be too long away, boys.
For more information and advice on anxiety and panic attacks, visit MIND here.
The Libertines' remaining tour dates are below. For tickets and more information, visit here.
7th Feb - Berlin Columbiahalle
9th Feb - Munich Zenith
10th Feb - Cologne Palladium
1st March - Amsterdam Paradiso
2nd March - Amsterdam Paradiso
4th March - Brussels AB
5th March - Brussels AB
7th March - Paris Olympia
9th March - Paris Olympia
24th March - Zurich X-tra
25th March - Vienna Stadhalle
Issue Two of the Gigwise Print magazine is on sale now! Buy it here.
More about: The Libertines