A Case For Vinyl: Tim Burgess

Solo Charlatan talks about his new remix project and more...
Tim Burgess

Stood backstage at Field Day, Tim Burgess is a tumbling, billowing river of plans, ideas, whims and fantasies. Not content with performing at the London one-dayer, the Charlatans frontman is also hosting a pop-up coffee shop. Imaginatively labelled Tim Peaks, each cup is entirely biodegradable – even down to the lids. “You can actually eat them - they’re made out of corn!” Really? “Yeah you can eat them in the apocalypse!”

The man thinks of everything.

Perhaps that’s not too surprising, though. Tim Burgess’ recent career has extended outward in two strands: large scale projects and tours, alongside a million and one ephemeral notions. Recently completing solo album ‘Oh No I Love You’, the singer quickly found himself in possession of a number of remixes. “I think whoever it was from The xx (Jamie – Clash) gave me the idea,” he explains. “The Gil-Scott Heron record was remixed by him - I really like that idea. I’m friends with Sam from Walls, he did a remix of a ‘A Case For Vinyl’ right when I just had that one song. And I thought of the idea of him remixing the whole thing but he couldn’t for some reason. I still liked the whole idea so I just decided to ask a few people and it just came in like that really. I got way more than I needed.”

The results are a fairly peculiar mish-mash of dance remixes, avant explorations and even a country song. Long time friends with Anton Newcombe, the Berlin based psychedelic troubadour invited Tim Burgess to tackle a Hank Williams standard. “I’ve known Anton for years - we both lived in Los Angeles at the same time. He now lives in Berlin and I’ve just played there, so I went to visit - we had three hours so we recorded something, there’s no point messing around.”

The speed of the recording perhaps defines the project. Lightning quick bursts of creativity, it owes as much to Twitter as it does to Kerouac. Responding to fast moving times with fast moving art, Tim Burgess is keen to emphasise that he is still drawn to larger, more traditional projects. “I love the idea of advertising the tour as much as actually going out on tour. And I love the idea of doing a remix for somebody else as much as writing an album for The Charlatans. I like it all!” he exclaims. “I like it all to be going on at the same time. I love the idea of writing a book but I was writing a book about the past and then doing a record about the present. I dunno…” then he pauses, before adding; “maybe I like to have a pile of work on my desk!”

Of course, it’s not a literal, physical pile. Yr typical 21st century man, virtually everything Tim Burgess touches is digital, but this access point doesn’t seem to have streamlined his methods.  “I just wake up and think ‘shit there’s a pile of work on my desk’ and I’ve got to get through it… but I like creating more work for myself” he smiles. “I suppose there’s not even a pile of work anywhere there will just be unanswered emails, tweets that have gone unanswered, un-retweeted.”

Currently focussing on his solo career, Tim Burgess is also limbering up for a few more dates with The Charlatans. Alongside this, though, he plans to embark on another writing project – about independent record shops. “I’m planning to do one in the summer about travelling and record shops,” the singer explains. “I’ve posted messages out on Twitter asking which record shops I should go and visit, and then write about. And then travel to the next one or something like that and write about great stuff in a travel-y way, using other people’s thoughts about records as well. It’s not fully formed.”

Still at the planning stages, the book accidentally encapsulates Tim Burgess’ worldview. Plucking elements from the past whilst racing forward, it’s fuelled by a lust for new music – both young and old. “I never really analyse it that much, I don’t think. The only thing I can think of is: for me, I had to write the book about the past but I couldn’t have just steeped myself in the past because I like the present and the future… so I have to keep moving forward. But then I do have baggage” he shrugs. “As far as the history of music goes, there’s some great stuff from the past and you can only hope that something’s going to be bright and shiny and new and brilliant in the future. But there’s some great stuff from the past too.”

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'Oh No I Love You More' is out now. Catch Tim Burgess x Lambchop at the Barbican on June 23rd.

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