Since we lost James Brown a while back, the mantle of Hardest Working Man In Showbusiness has been up for grabs- claims have been made by the likes George Michael’s herbalist and Pete Doherty’s 24 hour brief but there’s someone else making a claim for the vacant position.
Step into the interview room Mr. Tim Burgess
If singing with one of the UKs best loved bands, a solo career that saw him support The Rolling Stones and vocalist for hire on more than a dozen collaborations isn’t enough – then add to his CV festival curator, writer, columnist, club DJ, radio DJ on 6Music, his own label, originator of twitter based album listening parties and proprietor of a ‘metaphorical, metaphysical’ diner in the shape of Tim Peaks on twitter
Anything we’ve missed out Tim?
Wow, it does sound a lot – erm . . . Oh yeah – I just spent the weekend being a roadie for Factory Floor. A couple of gigs in Madrid and Spain. And I played piano on the forthcoming single by Joseph Coward. But, yeah, it doesn’t leave much time for anything else really. I’m not one for hobbies as such it just all seems to involve music
What’s taking priority at the moment?
It all runs at the same time really – I’ve just finished writing my autobiography. Do you say my autobiography or is it just an autobiography? Anyway 11 months of looking back and contemplation and at the same time the whole twitter thing was going crackers. I had got myself one but it takes a while to make out what it can be used best for. I’ve always been a fan of social media as it helps when you spend a lot of time travelling, and still want to nosey in on what people are up to. One morning I just tweeted to see if anyone fancied a coffee – orders came in like “yeah Tim, two builders teas – got a ceiling to plaster in Kettering” – it just sort of clicked and people seemed to get it. Like a caffeine based Field of Dreams. We made them and they came. We came up with specials and a loyalty card and Tim Peaks was born.
Serving imaginary coffee to people around the world?
I suppose, yeah. We’ve got a jukebox too. People pick songs to play. We choose a track as Tim’s breakfast banger and it’s a sweet way to start a day. People really loved it so we made 200 mugs for charity with the Tim Peaks design on them and they were all snapped up. Back in July we thought it would be cool to listen to an album simultaneously and I could tweet a commentary and answer questions. They grew into something really special – people in 23 countries at the last one. I was in LA where the album we were listening to, Wonderland, was recorded. Everything sort of snowballs so we came up with doing a listening party that people could come to. Fopp in Manchester said they would love to host it and are making their coffee shop into Tim Peaks for the day – the word surreal gets overused but I think it fits with some of what we’re doing. I always saw Tim Peaks as like a little radio show, I pick some songs – it’s a start to people’s days and it seems to mean something. 6Music got to hear and asked if I’d do a show for them on christmas eve and new year’s eve so it’s kind of turning into a reality. We’re just working out the shows now, it’s been so much fun. William Shatner, The NME and Kerrang all did listening parties soon after and I use those three as a yardstick for many things! I was a big fan of 6Music and it’s fantastic company to be in with their roster of DJs. I’m like the new boy at school, but it’s such a brilliant station – I’d been on a couple of the shows there and maybe they saw me looking around wistfully, so they gave me a couple of shows.
What’s this about you being a cartoon character too?
Well, all this just kind of opened doors and I wanted to see where it would lead. Often people send in ideas but music is much more personal so I can’t always find room for everything. With something as bizarre as the twitter/diner stuff it just seemed like the right thing to do. A really talented comic strip artist showed me some of his work and his idea was to turn the tweets into a strip (https://proofspirit.co.uk/tim-peaks/) – I remember comics like Whizzer and Chips and there was always a naivety to them and an idea that anything could happen. Aiden did the first one and it just seemed to add another dimension. He came to the last listening party we did at our studio. He did some sketches on the spot and we gave them away. We are putting lots of these things together for the 6Music show too. It’s that old thing that when there are slow and methodical developments it all seems quite logical and then you tell someone about if from the start and it can sound a bit nuts
So, any time for The Charlatans in all of this?
Of course, we played a gig a couple of weeks ago and we’ve been discussing our plans for next year. There’s always a plan which means we can then spend time on other projects. I’ve just recorded a solo album in Nashville. I wrote it with Kurt Wagner from Lambchop and I’ve just heard the final mix of some of the tracks. I got to work with a who’s who of the current crop of Nashville musicians and the fruits of our labour should be around next year at some time. There’s also our label – four of us have got together to record people we love and release their songs. We’ve got a beauty coming out at Christmas from R Stevie Moore. The closest thing the world has to Father Christmas, in looks and in his nature too.
Wow, so is there a typical day?
Not really at the moment but I’m just keeping busy with things. A couple of DJ gigs coming up – doing the cover to the book. Looking at how hectic next year will be is pretty tiring. But it’s great, I’m sharing it all with some great people and it’s cool that people want to listen to the music that we’re putting out. The Charlatans are still a big part of what we all do. It’s the day job but there’s so much amazing new music, I want to play it to people, release it for them and help with gigs for them too.
And with that he’s off to Penguin to talk to them about the cover of his book while talking on the phone about some kind of new year’s honours list he’s concocting
So, Mr. Burgess, thanks for coming in. The interview went well and we’ll be letting candidates know about the vacant position in the near future.
Join Tim at his Us and Us Only listening party at Fopp, Brown St, Manchester Thursday 8th December 6pm till 8pm – Tim Peaks mugs and coffee available.
His BBC 6Music shows are on Christmas eve and New Year’s Eve.
As for everything else. Coming soon……..