2016 Artist Survey: Tim Burgess of The Charlatans
Burgess on Trump, Brexit, Scary Movies, Memorable Fan Encounters, Time Travel, and Stranger Things
Feb 20, 2017
Issue # 59 - 15th Anniversary
Find It At: AMAZON
For Under the Radar's 14th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2016. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2016 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Tim Burgess of The Charlatans.
The British band released their debut album, Some Friendly, in 1990 and were originally part of the Madchester scene and later became associated with Britpop when their fourth album, which was self-titled, went to #1 on the U.K. album charts in 1995. 1997's Tellin' Stories was also a #1 album in the U.K. The band's most recent album, their 12th, Modern Nature, came out in 2015. In 2016 Burgess released a collaborative album with Peter Gordon, Same Language Different Worlds, on his own label, O Genesis.
For our annual Artist Surveys we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about Trump and the election, 2016's deaths, self-driving cars, Stranger Things, first kisses, scary movies they shouldn't have seen as a child, which Friends character they are most like, and much more.
Pick up or download Under the Radar's Best of 2016 / 15th Anniversary Issue for Artist Survey interviews with Amber Arcades, Austra, Faris Badwan of Cat's Eyes and The Horrors, Boxed In, Caveman, The Charlatans, Cursive, Lucy Dacus, The Dears, C Duncan, Sadie Dupuis of Sad13 and Speedy Ortiz, Dutch Uncles, Ezra Furman, Robyn Hitchcock, The Invisible, Justin Lockey of Editors and Minor Victories, Lost Under Heaven (LUH), Lush, Midlake, Phantogram, The Range, Springtime Carnivore, Sunflower Bean, Surfer Blood, TEEN, The Thermals, Nick Valensi of CRX and The Strokes, Jenn Wasner of Flock of Dimes and Wye Oak, and Yuck.
A shorter version of Burgess' survey appeared in the print version of Under the Radar's Best of 2016 / 15th Anniversary Issue, this is the full unedited version.
Top 10 Albums of 2016
Wow, that's a lot of instructions! I know you said to put them in specific order but the order changes each day. I'm asking to be released from that clause if that's okay. More time to answer the other questions. Deal? Deal!
Grumbling Fur: Furfour
Factory Floor: 25 25
PJ Harvey: The Hope Six Demolition Project
Whitney: Light Upon the Lake
Katie Gately: Color
Peter Zummo: Dress Code (Don't Look At My Car)
David Bowie: Blackstar
Boys Forever: Boys Forever
2016 was regarded by many as a fairly tough and negative year. Was it also a hard year for you personally? If so, how? And also what were the high points for you?
Yeah, where to start with the talent that has left planet Earth this year? I think I'm a positive person, so my own version of 2016 has been nothing like as tragic-although I am a human, so some of the decisions we've made this year might come back to haunt us all. I'd been working on a new book for a couple of years and it was published in July, so we went on a little tour and some of the guests from the book joined us. We had our own mobile record shop too, called Vinyl Adventures as well as a custom made turntable-so that's a lot of boxes ticked in the list of what I enjoy. The album I recorded with Peter Gordon came out in September. We'd worked on it for a while so was good to release it into the wild to see what people made of it. Peter had introduced me to musicians like Peter Zummo, Mustafa Khaliq Ahmed, and Ernie Brooks, so it was at total honor to get to work on songs with them. We took Tim Peaks to some brilliant festivals over the summer so it was a chance to put on some of my favorite new bands. There were some unannounced sets from me, Blossoms, and Peter Doherty too, so we had some exciting times. My son was three earlier in the year too so we spent much time playing with trucks and trains, reading stories, and writing songs together—those times were the high point for me.
What are your thoughts on how the U.S. presidential election played out?
It played out like a Super Bowl final of Brexit. I think it killed of the usefulness political polls. People are sick of career politicians and experts. It's a bit like Big, that Tom Hanks film—Donald Trump wasn't allowed on the political roller coaster, so he made a wish and it came true.
Let's discuss Donald Trump. What does the rise of Trump tell you about America in 2016? What concerns you most about a Trump presidency? How do you think his presidency might personally change your life? What message do you have for those who voted for Trump? What actions will you take over the course of the next four years to either protest a Trump presidency or support it?
It tells us that huge numbers of Americans felt they weren't being listened to. I really have concerns for so many people who need protection but who Trump has made no secret of not caring about and actively disliking. It might change my life and everyone else's when he gets those nuclear codes—aside from that, tremors will be felt by everyone. I'm sure Trump voters won't be waiting to hear what I have to say to them but "careful what you wish for" kind of covers it. I've seen the protests on TV and I'm sure they'll hot up once his merry band of pirates actually start doing their work but I have no particular desire to pick up a placard just yet.
What reality TV star would you have rather been elected president?
I'm not big on reality TV and who goes on the shows but pretty sure almost anyone would be less scary. I doubt Morgan Freeman has ever been on reality TV but he'd get my vote.
If you were president, what would you try to accomplish in your first 100 days in office?
Wow, I'm usually answering questions on who I'd like to write a song with. So many people seem to feel unsafe and under threat and it's the President's job to make people feel that they are understood and valued. I'm not sure how I'd do that but rants about building walls and going after people is probably not the way.
What are your thoughts on Brexit and the future of the European Union? To what extent do you think the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump were motivated by the same factors?
Are you sure these interview questions weren't the ones for Angela Merkel? I can imagine she's in Berlin wondering why she's being asked what her favorite music festival is. Those clowns that lead the whole Brexit thing, kind of got scared and didn't know what to do. Like some kids trying to set fire to something and freaking out when they realize what they've done. There seems to be noises from other countries about leaving so I'm not sure what the future holds. Brexit and Trump's victory were definitely motivated by the same factors—both had pantomime villain Nigel Farage involved and both kind of alluded to the fact that experts were ruining everything and were no longer needed and that a past that nobody remembers would be a welcome way to deal with the future.
We lost three highly influential music icons in 2016. What are your thoughts on the passing of David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen? And what are your favorite albums by each artist?
Incredibly sad on the case of Bowie and Prince but Leonard Cohen let us all know that he was ready to go. Hunky Dory, Sign o' the Times, and Songs of Leonard Cohen.
What do you think Prince and Bowie's afterlife project sounds like?
I suppose they had long enough and lots of opportunities to work together while they were alive and I'm not sure either needed anyone else to bring their ideas to life. I imagine negotiations are at a stalemate.
Which Friends character are you most like?
What scary movie did you see way too young as a child, how'd you end up seeing it, and does it still scare you now?
The Exorcist, The Brood, The Driller Killer.
Are you ready for self-driving cars and a more automated future?
Self-driving cars seem like a good thing. My present is as automated as I'd like it though.
Tell us about the most memorable fan encounter you had this year.
Me as a fan or a fan of ours? I had a chat and had my photo taken with Debbie Harry so that was great for me as a fan. In terms of our fans, someone told me they saw that we were playing and it reminded him of a girl he wished he'd asked out 20 years before. He got in touch and asked if she wanted to come to see us with him—even though he had moved to Sweden. She said yes and they realized they should waste no more time and he moved back to the U.K to be with her. He told us the story at another gig and they were both there. It's great to play a bit part in sweet stories like that.
Tell us about your first kiss.
I'm not really a kiss and tell kind of guy—I think we were both happy with it though.
Under the Radar has been around for 15 years now, since December 2001. How do you feel the music industry has most changed in that time, both for the better and the worst?
Many of the good things are the bad things too—you can listen to every song and watch every video a band has ever made without leaving your chair or spending any money. And you can read about them on websites that you can look at for free. That's good and bad—it's an ever-changing landscape so you have to keep up—that's good and bad too.
Which Stranger Things character do you most relate with? Why?
Eleven. I have special powers. Can't really say more or they'll be coming to get me.
What are your thoughts on President Barack Obama now that he's leaving office?
He looks like someone who has spent years working on something and he's just seen a bus load of hooligans are about to arrive to trash it.
What do you miss most and least about the touring lifestyle when you're not on the road?
I miss the excitement of walking out on stage and playing the songs. I don't miss the feeling of transit—packing and unpacking. I'm definitely not complaining though—you asked the question!
If you could travel back in time, which historical or personal event would you most like to change and why?
My son loves dinosaurs. Think I'd head back to a few days before that comet hit and grab some selfies with those guys.
What band, besides your own, has the best name?
What's the most vivid dream or nightmare you had in 2016?
I dreamt that Donald Trump won the election. Hoping to wake up soon.
What VHS tape or DVD did you wear out growing up?
Basket Case, Twin Peaks, The Exorcist.
What problem in the music industry isn't discussed enough and which one is over-covered?
It's kind of over-done that acts that appeal to kids or come from TV talent shows don't appeal to critics and serious musicians, but lots of critics and serious musicians spend time saying why they're not keen on them. It's different worlds—they can exist together. What is not discussed enough, however, is how emerging new bands are meant to make enough money to keep going. It's okay for bands that have made it but there's increasingly less and less money out there. Rich kids are okay and can get by but skint young bands like we were are really struggling.
What TV show did you most enjoy binge watching in 2016?
Stranger Things, The Get Down.
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