Analogue Music | Tim Burgess

Tim Burgess

By Matt Conner

A double-album was always in view for Tim Burgess.

As Burgess found himself wrestling with stalled touring plans and a lockdown without end, the Charlatans front man found himself with one unsupported solo album and yet plenty of new music channeling through as he processed a radically changing world. The end result was to dive right back in to record another solo record—this time, a double-album that had somehow always eluded him until this point.

Typical Music is the brand new release, a rare two-record set filled with what Burgess calls "three-minute bangers." The release itself might seem counter-cultural in its format, but Burgess's listening parties have taught him that full-length albums are still very much appreciated, and his new sprawling release features as much color and contrast as anything he's ever done.

We recently sat down with Burgess to talk about Typical Music and his goals for touring both albums when the world is ready.

Analogue: A double-album flies in the face of pretty much everything in the industry today. Did you wrestle with that at all when it came to packaging Typical Music?

Tim Burgess: No, I didn’t. I did it for that reason, really. I wanted to push it as far as I could. I’ve always loved double albums. One of the amazing things that was said about the Listening Party that I was doing during lockdown is that people started listening to albums again. In a world of one-track mp3s or playlists, it was interesting that people were starting to listen to track 8 of an album or the arc of an album.

I’ve always wanted to make a double album. I wanted to make one with my previous record, I Love The New Sky, but it just didn’t have it. I wasn’t quite ready. The time, I thought I’d do 16 songs like Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me [The Cure]. I asked Daniel O'Sullivan, who I was making the record with, to let me know when we got to 16 tracks. He said, ‘We’re way past that now.’ We were at 22 and at that point, I thought, ‘Let’s not write anymore. Let’s just color them in and make them as varied as possible and make it the best record as it can be. Let’s make each track as important as the other and as contrasting as the other.’

"Double albums are normally known as indulgent things from prog-rock bands, but a lot of those records I like. But this is a double album made up of three-minute bangers—mostly. It’s kind of funny."

Let me explain: Of course, I’m worried about the reaction. Double albums are normally known as indulgent things from prog-rock bands, but a lot of those records I like. But this is a double album made up of three-minute bangers—mostly. It’s kind of funny.

Analogue: What’s the cutting room floor like on a project like this then?

Tim: There isn’t one. Every song I did is on the record.

Analogue: Is that typical for you?

Tim: It isn’t. It’s the first time. There’s always 15 or 20 tracks to make a 10-track album, in the Charlatans anyway. But with my last record, I want to credit Daniel and Thighpaulsandra because we used everything we recorded. There was nothing thrown away.

Analogue: When there’s no cutting room floor, is that because you knew there was something interesting in everything that made it easy to do or were you hyper-committed to working on something until you found something worth saving?

Tim: Well, I really paid a lot of attention to the actual writing of the material. I’m sitting in the same room in Norfolk in which I wrote a lot of the stuff. I wrote a lot of acoustic guitar with melody and lyrics and that’s how I got the songs in—full lyrics, melody, and even time signature changes on the acoustic. I was very aware, because of the last album, how fantastic Daniel was as an arranger. I wanted him to go even crazier than last time.

So every time we got together, I’d play him the song, we’d work it out on the piano, and then from there, we wanted to make this new universe that could rise above the mire of the shiftiness of the world. A lot of it was made with masks on during lockdown. It was pretty frightening, y’know? But there was only three of us making this 22-track album. We did get other people in the end, as restrictions got easier, but as soon Wales got out of lockdown, we piled in and started to sing.

Analogue: How did you know it was time for a solo album again?

Tim: So I Love The New Sky was supposed to go to South by Southwest to display that album to the world, but obviously that got canceled because of COVID. We went to New York and did some shows, but then flew back and that was the end of touring for that album. I had a conversation with Simon Raymonde of the Cocteau Twins and also runs Bella Union. He said, ‘You can always put another album out and tour two of them when COVID fades away or whatever.’

I thought that was an interesting album but I was really nervous because when I’ve put an album out historically, I’ve toured it, met new people, had new experiences, and then that informed the way I move onto the next record. By the time we got around to writing Typical Music, The Charlatans were still separated from each other. We celebrated our 30 year anniversary over Zoom. You couldn’t really have any contact with one another, so I just wrote another album.

It just became this sprawling thing. I was going through a lot of changes. I was here with my son. I was breaking up from his mom. My father died. A little later during the album, I started seeing a friend I’d known for ages and new love blossomed. There was so much to write about. There was also so much going on in the world that’d never happened before. And the Listening Party exploded. I was just doing that in the evening and writing through the day and trying to have a life and walk and keep in touch with people and then kept writing these messages to the world like, ‘Here comes the weekend and there’s nothing to do.’ [Laughs]

Analogue: By the way, do you have a favorite song of the 22?

Tim: I had to do a track-by-track of the thing and they said given it’s 22 tracks, they didn’t expect too much. But I couldn’t stop writing about each track. I listened to it all today. Historically I love “Time That We Call Time” because it’s maybe the most downbeat of the whole album, but today I was really digging “After This.” “Magic Writing” is also a favorite.

VISIT: Tim Burgess