As well as fronting The Charlatans, Tim Burgess has carved a successful solo career, runs his own record label, and even owns his own coffee brand. Alongside his mix, we talk to Tim about his favourite records, Britpop, inspirations and what it's like to run your own label. Check out the mix above and read the interview below.
What was the first record you ever bought and your favourite albums as a teenager?
Well, my first record I bought was when I was about 5 was Long Haired Lover From Liverpool but I didn't hit my stride of good records until a bit later. As a teenager I loved Crass - Stations of The Crass came out in 1979 and that was a record that changed my life. Sandinista! was another record I loved. Six sides of revolution and oddness. I suppose the 7 years when you're a teenager are the ones when your taste in music really becomes defined - 20 Jazz Funk Greats by Throbbing Gristle, High Land Hard Rain by Aztec Camera, Killing Joke, UK Subs were an important band for me too, Brand New Age was fantastic. A constant right through my teenage years was new order though. Theirs were my favourite albums if I had to pick one band
Can you tell us about your earliest musical memories, what started your relationship with music?
Music on TV and the radio definitely had quite an effect. 7.20 on a Thursday (after Tomorrow's World), everything would stop for Top of The Pops - my dad might be making a comment about their hair and bad posture. My Mum and sister quite liked Motown style stuff. I remember seeing Sparks on the show when I was pretty young and thinking that music didn't really play by any rules - even stuff like Bohemian Rhapsody has an affect on you, a mini opera leaping out of the telly into our suburban living room. My Uncle Andrew was a bit of an substitute older brother for me, he's my Mum's brother but was quite a bit younger than her. He was in bands and introduced me to lots of the music that shaped what I got into later. A copy of The Great Rock N Roll Swindle by The Sex Pistols made me realise you didn't have to be a brilliant musician to make records. It was people like Yes and Genesis before that who made it all seem a bit serious. From there, I'd talk to friends about starting bands and I eventually realised it was something I really wanted to do.
As everyone celebrates 20 years of Britpop, can you tell us some of your best memories from this period?
Some people include The Charlatans in Britpop and some don't. I'm not sure who the Britpop ombudsman is, maybe Chris Evans? But, yeah, we were there. I think people, not us, still included us in the baggy/ madchester thing but others say that because we played at Knebworth then we were part of some kind of Britpop Mount Rushmore. We just kind of did what we did though - I think most bands do that and the scenes are more for journalists.
I remember bumping into Liam Gallagher and each of us had a cassette in our pocket. Mine had a brand new song of ours on it, Just When You're Thinking Things Over - we went back to my flat round the corner and I played him the song, which he seemed to like. He chucked me his tape with their new song and it was Some Might Say - a few weeks later it was number one in the singles chart.
I went to The Good Mixer a few times - I think that was the official pub of Britpop. As for debauched tales of parties in Camden with Jarvis and the bass player from Echobelly, my lips are sealed. What happened in Britpop, stays in Britpop.
Also I realised recently it's been about 17 years since Telling Stories - the 5th Charlatans album, was released! How did you find it, not only being one of the bands at the forefront of this powerful Britpop scene, but also just being teenager in that era?
Well, I was a teenager until 1987 so that was a bit after then. I did act like a teenager for much of that time, so I can still answer that question. At the time of Telling Stories our keyboard player, Rob, died so that whole time, which would otherwise have been about total joyful abandon had a really heartbreaking side to it. We were confident that we were writing great songs and we thought for the first time that people might look back remember that we were around.
What impact do you think it had on you personally and as a band, working alongside other key bands like The Stone Roses and Oasis etc?
I'd seen The Stone Roses a few times and The Charlatans played a few early gigs with them. Their debut album took a while to catch on but when it did, things really blew up. The landscape of music seemed to be changing around them. We had a similar vibe to them - we'd take coach loads of fans to gigs in Paris and people kind of put us together in that Happy Mondays/ Baggy scene.
I'm still good friends with Mani and it was great to see them put their differences behind them for those Heaton Park gigs in Manchester. Oasis started as we'd been going for a couple of years. Mark, our guitarist, was mates with Noel and we knew as soon as we heard them that they were destined for big things. Even with, or maybe with help from, the brotherly scraps, they became the biggest band on the world. We were honoured to play at Knebworth before them and they were great times to look back on.
Manchester and London - what do each of these places mean to you musically?
They're at the top of the pile.
The Charlatans are known for being influenced by acid house and 60's psychedelia in the early days - did you ever envisage this would later be grouped in with what is now referred to broadly as Britpop?
We loved those kind of east coast psyche bands and bands like The Prisoners too. Lots of 60s influences. Acid House hit Manchester, and The Hacienda in particular in 1988 and I spent a lot of time in there, so those influences were definitely absorbed into what we were doing. Remixers like Paul Oakenfold were blurring the lines between dance and indie. We just played all through this and we'd crop up in magazine articles putting us in different scenes. We never set out to be part of any of them.
Above: The Charlatans at The Joiners, February 8th 1990
What’s the record or song that you’re most pleased with over your career?
With The Charlatans, I'd say Wonderland today but it can change in a moment. Outside of The Charlatans I'd say Oh No I Love You.
Tell us what drove you to start the label O Genesis?
From the moment I bought records I'd been intrigued by the different labels.
What’s the best and worst thing about running your own label?
I think the best is to see a record in a shop - I'm used to seeing my own records but I get a warm feeling when I see something on the shelves of a record shop by one of the other bands on the label. The worst is the boss can be a bit of a pain sometimes.
Which new acts are you really into? Would you say you're quite proactive in going to gigs of bands who are still fairly under the radar in the hopes of discovering something amazing?
Not in the sense of just wanting to be the first to see a band - but, yes I hear people like new bands like Grumbling Fur or Peaking Lights and I try to get see them. I love seeing bands get bigger and take risks with what they do. I first saw The Horrors when they were playing really small gigs and now they've recorded two records that have been voted album of the year in The NME. I book bands for Tim Peaks at a couple of festivals so it's good to keep an eye out for new bands - Seahawks, they're fantastic. Slowgun too, we recorded a few songs with them.
So having been in bands, had a solo career, written books, started a record label and even owning a Coffee brand (Tim Peaks - genius name btw), what's next for you? Tell us what you're up to at the moment.
A follow up to the book. The working title is Tim Book Two.