An Interview With: John Hassall – Libertines bassist takes centre stage

John Hassall & The April Rainers will hit Scotland for gigs in May

ASKED about the spirit of John Hassall & The April Rainers, frontman and Libertines bassist Hassall describes them as “refugees of love”.

United in Denmark since Hassall moved there nine years ago, one Dane, one Norwegian and another Brit, The April Rainers will treat audiences in Glasgow and Perth to their twee alt-folk sounds over the weekend.

“We’re really looking forward to coming over to Glasgow, I haven’t played there before so it’ll be a good experience.

“I love going to Scotland and it’s the first time April Rainers have been up there so it’s going to be a great experience for them
being from Denmark. Apparently, we’re staying in some castle in Perth, I probably won’t ever want to come home, just sit and write in the castle.”

The April Rainers will be supported by Craig Weir & the
Cabalistic Cavalry and Dancing on Tables at The Green Room in Perth, with IBG and local favourites The Banter Thiefs joining for The Record Factory show in Glasgow.

John Hassall (centre) & The April Rainers.

Hassall was disappointed to cancel on Motherwell music scene veterans The Banter Thiefs the last time he visited Scotland.

“It’s annoying we had to cancel, we were gonna do Glasgow last year and they were gonna play with us so we said to them next time we’re up we definitely want to play with you if you’re still up for it, it should be great!”

Despite his love for Scotland, Hassall professes that The April Rainers recently released debut album Wheels to Idyll is
quintessentially English in nature.

“It’s got that Englishness but with a slight pastoral, out in the countryside, summer music, almost psychedelic vibe.

“The main thing about the album is that there is a theme about me taking the train down to see my grandmother from London in the summer holidays.

“I’d go off on my own on the train to this magical country world with my beautiful granny, who is the loveliest person, at the end of it you come back on the train to a slightly depressing London.

“It’s not about my everyday childhood, but those special
moments are in many of the songs.”

Coy and reserved, Hassall was pleased with the outcome of the album, but was not sure if the listening public who are used to The Libertines and Yeti would respond in the same way.

“I sometimes get a bit discouraged, but then I listen to it and I think this is actually pretty good. In the past, I’ve done albums and not really listened to it, but with this one I actually don’t mind putting it on.

“It’s definitely very different than Libertines but I guess you can probably still here a little bit of Libertines in there. I’m really
happy with it and I’d love it for everybody to be able to think it’s amazing as well.”

The Londoner, famous for playing bass in late indie icons The Libertines, moved to Denmark nine years ago with his wife.

At that point, The Libertines were split up and Hassall had just stopped playing with his old band Yeti. Hassall confesses he left to find himself and music again.

“I moved to Denmark to try something new and it got to the point where I was asking myself, what do I want to do with my life?

“I’m a musician, I don’t know how this band is going to come about or what we’re going to do, but one thing’s for certain we’re going to need some songs.

“I went about just writing some new songs and then after that I met the other guys James and Jakob through my wife’s poetry club. They are a bit younger than me, but it really gelled together.”

Hassall has had to learn to be a frontman.

Fronted by the enigmatic duo of Pete Doherty and Carl Barât, The Libertines are raucous and sometimes unpredictable live act. Taking on the mantle of frontman has been a challenge for
Hassall to find his own style.

He admits, laughing over a crackling international telephone line: “I’m not the kind of traditional front man, as you’ll find out.

“I’ve changed a lot over the years where I take the audience into account and play for the people who are there, try to engage with them in the moment.

“I guess it’s not a natural role for me but I do enjoy in engaging in a different way than in the Libertines. A more discreet way.”

Alongside their May tour dates Hassall will balance his April Rainers festival commitments with ongoing work with The Libertines.

“We’re gonna be doing Isle of Wight Festival which is really
exciting, and one in London called Standon Calling as well as a
couple of shows in Denmark so we’re pretty much fully booked now.

“We only just put the album out last month or so, so we’re gonna play that to people first for the whole summer and then next year when the time’s right we’ll definitely be doing a new album.”

Hassall believes with Pete, Carl and drummer Gary Powell all off doing their own side-projects, when they return their bond will even stronger and the music magnificent.

“We’re going to be doing a new album with the Libertines, the end of this year, the beginning of next year that’s obviously
going to take the focus but I think it adds to it.

“I like Pete and Carl’s side projects, Gary’s playing with The
Specials. I think it’s really healthy to go away and do your own thing then you come back having learnt new stuff, new
experiences and really add creativity to it. It’s a good exchange of ideas.”

John Hassall & The April Rainers play The Record Factory, Glasgow on Friday 12th May and The Green Room, Perth on Saturday 13th May.

Tickets available from £7 for Glasgow and Perth.

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