The Stone Roses: Tim Burgess Interview

By The Charlatans' frontman Tim Burgess
Tim Burgess 2009
As part of the 20 year celebration of The Stone Roses' debut album in April 2009. Clash Magazine spoke Tim Burgess of The Charlatans on the impact the band had on him and his band.

I was working in a chemical factory in Northwich when the Roses’ career kicked off. I was in a band at the time called The Electric Train Set - we were doing things like Iggy Pop covers. The Charlatans were already called The Charlatans and were hoping to do some dates with The Stone Roses. The manager invited me along to see them because he was thinking of asking me to join. Obviously the Roses were genius, but I was more inspired by them later as opposed to straight away. I bought ‘Elephant Stone’ and ‘Made Of Stone’ when they came out, and I thought they were incredible singles. I do remember listening to the album on the way to the Hacienda and knew it had some otherness to it. It wasn’t immediate, but it definitely had something else about it.

It was pretty difficult to avoid pure gold in Manchester at that time - The Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses were all on Top Of The Pops, you know? Everyone was looking at Manchester to throw out the next band. It totally helped me and without a doubt helped The Charlatans too.

It’s true that Ian Brown had a go at me. He was talking about me imitating him, but I always considered him an orangutan and me a chimpanzee. And Liam [Gallagher] as a baby chimp. I definitely took a few moves, but I always thought I was trying to combine Ian Curtis, Jagger and Iggy and throw it all into my own thing. You definitely take influences. I mean Shaun Ryder was a huge influence. I think I’ve got it all going on, and it’s become me really.

Everyone is going to think I’m crazy, but my favourite song from their debut is the backward one, ‘Don’t Stop’. It always has been. It doesn’t go down too well in DJ sets though. For me in 1988 and 1989, it was all about listening to dance music in the clubs and then psychedelic music at people’s houses after. It all combined, and that’s what made it all happen.

When John Squire left, that was bad. When it really is that amazing and then something happens like that, like with Mick Jones leaving The Clash, it really makes the enormity of how big they were, bigger. For them to believe they could carry on without John Squire, or whether they didn’t really believe it or not, for me it makes the first record sound even better. I don’t think they should get back together though. It’s kind of a downer when people get together after such a long time. Motivations are just going to be money based. And the chemistry you had together when you were twenty-nine years old is going to be a lot different when you’re forty-five. But if they want to get back together and they need the money, who am I to judge?

What makes me still love The Stone Roses is that they are not like Coldplay or U2 or on that level. Even though they only made one big record, it still had that mythology that The Clash had, and that doesn’t happen to everyone. It is something we should all treasure. Since they aren’t around anymore, they inspire so many people. They just caught all the imaginations at the exact right time.


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