PETE Doherty wishes he could concentrate on his music, and yet the rock press loves to make lurid play of his colourful excesses.

At present exiled from The Libertines - it is hard to keep up with a relationship more fraught than the Gallaghers' sibling squabbling in Oasis - he is concentrating on his parallel project, Babyshambles, the headline act at Fibbers in York on Monday.

"To be honest, the Libertines' situation is breaking my bleeding heart," says front man Pete, who sounds emotional as he takes this call on his mobile phone in the late afternoon.

"Babyshambles has been around as long as the Libertines and... it's only because I'm not allowed back on stage with The Libertines that I'm using Babyshambles for experimenting."

York is one of three gigs for Babyshambles in the week ahead and Pete sounds surprised to be performing at all. "I don't know... it seems unreal almost that we're getting out and playing because it's been awful trouble for us trying to get gigs," he says. "But everywhere we're playing to full houses even though lots of the songs haven't been released yet."

Perhaps that is because for all the attendant headlines, Doherty's abrasive, cockily East End street music supercedes his troubled, self-destructive circumstances. Does he court publicity?

"I don't really talk about myself too much. The truth is that I'm quite a mild-mannered, bookish kind of lad, so I've always found it strange to read accounts of this foul-mouthed, smack-head, criminal, yob, but maybe it's me who's wrong. Maybe there is another Pete Doherty."

Expect the unexpected on Monday, whichever Pete Doherty turns up.

Babyshambles play Fibbers, York, on Monday; tickets £12 advance, £14 door (be warned, a sell-out is anticipated). Babyshambles' second single, title as yet unconfirmed, will be released by 1234 Records in September.

Updated: 15:18 Thursday, July 15, 2004