The Charlatans' singer shares advice
Tim Burgess' Rock And Rules

The indispensable guide to surviving a life in music, by those who know best.

Tim Burgess is a household name in the world of indie. Front man for The Charlatans, he has lived through the heady days of Britpop and survived to tell the tale. He still continues to make music, now from the comfort of his adopted LA home. Here are his Rock And Rules.


I starting working as a labourer when I left school and as soon as I got paid on a Thursday I would blow all my money on records. I was always obsessed with music from a really early age. I remember telling my mum that I was going to do something in music and I always knew deep down that I would, I just didn’t know what exactly.


I was always in bands after I left school and before I hooked up with The Charlatans. In that time, I tried everything: I was a synth player at first, then a bass player, then a guitar player, until I ended up as a singer in a band called The Electric Crayon Set. I opened up for The Charlatans one night and they happened to be recruiting a new singer. The rest is history.


Anything to do with the business side of things was difficult because it was a whole new world to me that I didn’t even know existed. When we went from an indie to a major label we didn’t really know how to deal with people in suits. But it became known to me that I needed to take notice more and not just sit quietly at the back during meetings. The best bit of advice I can give is: pay attention to what your lawyer’s saying!


The hardest thing at first was learning to trust people who took care of the business element. The second hardest thing was learning to trust someone who had basically stolen from us and taken everything that we had earned for them. Our manager walked into our rehearsal room one day after we had been on tour and told us he had a confession to make, as he was the one who had chosen the accountant, although it wasn’t really his fault. Our accountant actually went to jail for it, as he stole a ridiculous amount of money that took us ten years to pay back. So I guess you could say there were some cruel lessons along the way.


At the beginning it was music or nothing and towards the end it felt like the party was becoming more important, so I had to make the decision whether or not to carry on. Did I want to be a great partier or did I want to take the music inside me further and lead the artist life and do something that was really true? I chose music. I felt like going in to record vocals whilst on drugs wasn’t being real so that’s why I stopped doing it.

Interview by April Welsh

The Charlatans’ new album ‘Who We Touch’ is out now.

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