photo by Gem Bowles
In the nineties there were few bands that dominated the British charts more than The Charlatans. With a string of hits that included The Only One I Know, Then and a slew of songs that defined the baggy 90′s. It was a true honor to get an opportunity to speak to lead singer Tim Burgess, as he reflected on the bands success and discussed their place in history.
Interview by Amy McCarthy
TDOA: As we grow older, we all tend to be less adventurous as we choose what to listen to musically. Any guesses on why that is? Are there new bands that you find interesting?
TB: I think it is because people lose their edge or just stay in their comfort zone that they have created through age!!
I do like new bands and like to work with new bands i find it good for my creative juices and i like to pass on info to bands i like…loving London punk band Flats at the moment also I love Electricity In Our Homes and Chapter Sweetheart.
TDOA: You have always seemed to do some great collaborations with other bands. Can you talk about who you’ve been working with recently.
TB: I am working on a few projects but the main one is an album with Steffan Halpern drummer/musician from the Klaxxons And Josh third from The Horrors….
TDOA: Can you tell us about a moment in your career that you would describe as the pinnacle of your career? A moment where you thought to yourself, “it doesn’t get any better than this”.
TB: Working with Penny Rimbaud And Gee Voucher from CRASS on the latest Charlatans!
TDOA: So, the Cadbury ad. How did that happen? Did Cadbury contact you guys? Was the ad person a huge fan?
TB: Yes. Cadburys contacted us and asked to use the track. They were really excited and had the track in mind while making the ad.
TDOA: So, 2010 is the Charlatans’ 20th anniversary. (Congrats) What can we expect this year –tours, a box set, some unreleased tracks?
TB: Thanks (again). We will be playing Some Friendly in its’ entirety at a few select cities/towns in Europe: Barcelona, Glasgow, London. Then we will celebrate with a remastered double CD. Our new record will be released in the summer (August) and we hope to tour world-wide in the late summer/early fall.
TDOA: You’re also a DJ. Do you produce/write your own tracks, or mix others? What genres do you prefer?
TB: I like to mix the genres. Mostly I will start with punk, go through post-punk into maybe some manic pop, into some Brit-pop/dance/hip-hop/soul, etc…..
TDOA: I read somewhere that The Chavs were going to be putting out a record? Is that still in the works?
TB: Somewhere on the horizon. All band members are flexing their musical muscle elsewhere at the moment.
TDOA: My favorite track from You Cross My Path, Oh! Vanity, sounds pretty timeless. It’s relevant now, and feels like it would’ve been relevant 20 years ago. What component of your music is most important to that?
TB: Yes! Oh Vanity is a good one, thanks. Erm, to me the lyrics on You Cross My Path were the most important. Though the 3-chord repetitive sequence is pretty sweet in this particular track and the organ solo was quite like a victory dance.
TDOA: So, you’re friends with The Stones (jealous) – what’s your favorite track?
TB: Ruby Tuesday or Have You Seen Your Mother Baby.
TDOA: Another Stones question: what’s the best piece of advice (or funniest joke, whichever) that Mick Jagger ever gave you?
TB: Best piece of advice Mick ever gave me was to get a good lawyer.
TDOA: We’ve talked at length with other bands about the insidious influence NME, Melody Maker, et al had on “making and breaking” bands. To what extent did you feel betrayed when they made their inevitable shift in covering your music?
TB: I don’t feel betrayed at all! Melody Make is, sadly, no more, but NME features us when we have something out. NME.com has us up there all the time
TDOA: Any advice for bands who are likely to be caught in the “music mag trap” of being built up and then torn down?
TB: Well if nothing fazes you, you will be ok. But, if you are a human you will feel hurt at criticism. Especially if you feel it undeserved. Sometimes band in the UK get really big-headed once they have had some kind of success and feel they are allowed to put out any old crap. Then they get torn down, but kinda deserve it.