This weekend, Madchester veterans The Charlatans return to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party to headline the Waverley Stage. Earlier in the day, their frontman Tim Burgess appears in conversation with DJ Vic Galloway to discuss his two – count ’em – books to date.
His memoir Telling Stories was published in 2012 and earlier this year he followed up with the puntastic Tim Book Two: Vinyl Adventures From Istanbul to San Francisco in which he asked a bunch of musicians he respects for their favourite vinyl tips then set off round the record shops of the world to track down their recommendations.Burgess is quite the vinyl junkie and tells us that Monorail in Glasgow is one of his top five record shops in the world. Here’s some other things he told us:
What are your memories of your last Edinburgh’s Hogmanay in 2010?
I met up with a few friends in the afternoon. It was great to take in the atmosphere as the excitement was palpable – there was a real party mood. We played a set full of our biggest songs. We always love playing in Scotland, so when you add Hogmanay in the mix, it’s even more enjoyable.
What do you have planned for this time?
We work on our setlist the day of the gig but it’ll be bangers all the way.
If you weren’t spending Hogmanay in Edinburgh, what would you be doing?
We have a three year old so at some point during the day I would be playing with trucks and maybe doing a jigsaw. I’d be asleep by midnight.
How are you enjoying life as an author as well as musician? How does writing books compare to writing music as a discipline?
I’m only a visitor to the world of writing books. I was at the Edinburgh International Book Festival over the summer. I felt like they’d rumble me and chuck me out. It was so enjoyable though – it’s a world I love but I’ve definitely sneaked in through an open door. Writing songs is about condensing an idea, while writing a book is about staying true to the story as you see it. Plus the words don’t have to rhyme…
Why did you decide to write an autobiography?
It wasn’t really something I decided. Penguin got in touch and asked if I wanted to write my autobiography – I was flattered so said yes. There followed a couple of years of meeting them for coffee and saying how well the book was coming along. The truth was, I hadn’t written a word but I enjoyed the coffee. The biggest challenge was getting started…
What do you reckon to the autobiographies of your Manchester forebears? Have you read the Morrissey, Marr or Peter Hook books?
I read that first massive sentence in Morrissey’s book and quite enjoyed it, but it was in a shop so I only got that far. I love New Order but I try to blank out the fall-outs so I sidestepped Hooky’s and Bernard’s books. Having said that, I’m looking forward to Stephen Morris’s book which I think is out next year.
What sparked the idea for Tim Book Two? Did your trip take you anywhere unexpected? Any surprises regarding who recommended what vinyl?
They say write about what you know so records and record shops seemed the obvious choice – I really wanted to know what albums Johnny Marr and Iggy Pop would recommend so I sent out a few texts and emails and it all started from there. I found shops like The Record Detective Agency [in Palmers Green, London] that I’d never been to before. Chris Carter from Throbbing Gristle recommended ABBA – his day job is making the most out-there music so in his own time he listens to the opposite to relax. Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth recommended an album that was recorded and left in a drawer for years. It’s called Colour Green by Sibylle Baier – I’d never heard of it before and now it’s one of my favourite records.
What are your main impressions of the record retail scene around the country?
Most times when we play a gig in a city I head to record shops during the day or the following morning. Last time I was in Edinburgh, Avalanche was closing so I went in there for a final time. A few shops are shutting or going online but others are opening too. Kids seem to be getting record players for Christmas and Record Store Day really helps – some people gripe about it but from where I’m standing it works well. There’s a fantastic app put together by Vinyl District that can direct you to the nearest record shop, wherever you are in the world. Sometimes you just need to be near vinyl to feel a bit better, surrounded by like-minded people.