Arts

London, and Crack Cocaine, Are Burning

London is an interesting place right now. Especially if you are in you are a middle-class music enthusiast in your late-teens-to-early-twenties with a tendency penchant for drugs like crack cocaine and heroin. The calculatedly cool or “deck,” as the Brits call it, image of the early 2000s garage-rock revival and the neo-new wave movement of Franz Ferdinand and the Rapture are waning. In their place, the London punk revival, or “London’s Burning” scene has emerged as the most interesting currents flowing in music today. At the forefront of this movement is the now-defunct punk band called The Libertines, and, specifically, its charismatic co-frontman, Pete Doherty. Yes, the one famous in the tabloid circle for his short-lived relationship with model Kate Moss. Highly evocative of the Clash, the Buzzcocks, the Jam, the Kinks, and, especially, the Sex Pistols, the Libertines stood at the forefront of the bohemian circle which was emerging in London’s West End at the dawn of the new millennium. Their first album, Up The Bracket, released in 2002 to a fair amount of acclaim, particularly from Britain’s Billboard-equivalent New Musical Express. Their uniquely English perspective on profane punk rock, incorporating Cockney slang and drunken vocals turned heads. Nevertheless, true to rock ‘n roll, relations between Doherty and co-frontman Carl Barat strained as Doherty’s addictions to heroin and crack cocaine became increasingly unmanageable. Eventually Doherty was expelled from the group. Even more befitting of the punk attitude, Doherty raided Barat’s flat and served one month behind bars. The group reunited shortly after Doherty’s release, with the self-titled The Libertines climbing to number one on the UK album charts and registering platinum sales. They officially disbanded at the end of 2004. The success of the Libertines helped open doors for several uniquely British punk bands, including the Arctic Monkeys, the Paddingtons, the Rakes, Doherty’s new act, Babyshambles, and, most notably, the Others, whose lead singer, Dominic Masters, has the potential to rival the notoriety of his close friend Doherty. The Others released their eponymous debut and the moderately popular single “Lackey” in 2005. Since then, they have made a name for themselves for their loud, off-the-cuff rock and their close relations with their fans, known as the 853 Kamikaze Stage Diving Division. Most notably, the Others have become famous for their free, illegal “guerilla gigs” at venues as unpredictable as the Abbey Road crossing in London, made famous by the Beatles and the London Underground. Masters in particular is infamous for his open entrepreneurial nature, as well as his insatiable thirst for attention. Like Doherty, Masters publicly uses crack cocaine, but his unorthodoxy moves beyond mere drug abuse. Masters’ mobile phone number can be found on his band’s website, and tracks, such as the single “This Is For The Poor,” reveal radical socialist political beliefs. While pursuing a degree in politics at London Guildhall University, Masters made money through petty drug dealing, before entering a career in advertising sales. Masters boasted to friends in his bohemian social circle that he was the frontman for a band. When these pals secured his “band” a gig, Masters called two musician-acquaintances, who would later become members of the Others, and composed lyrics on-the-spot. The band was received so well that they continued performing around London, before Poptones signed them in 2004. Masters resides in London with Johan, his transsexual boyfriend. A new single, “William,” will be released on April 4. The Others will break ties with Poptones for their new album, expected on an independent label sometime in 2006. While this Punk-revival is both celebrated and criticized by listeners and critics alike, one thing is for sure: the “London’s Burning” scene has its fair share of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll.