Charlatans to return to Norwich

Indie heroes the Charlatans return to Norwich on October 21 - with support from Happy Mondays legend Shaun Ryder. EMMA LEE catches up with frontman Tim Burgess

There are some pop songs that set you off on a real nostalgia trip.

And for the Doc Marten boot wearing indie kid of the 90s, the merest hint of the organ riff from The Only One I Know by the Charlatans is enough to transport you back to a cider fuelled evening out at a sticky floored nightclub.

It's bizarre - and actually slightly scary - to think that the song came out two decades ago.

And to mark the 20th anniversary of the release of their debut album Some Friendly, the record has been re-issued and the band are back on the road, including a date at the UEA, Norwich, on October 21.

'The songs have worn well. It was a good album,' says frontman Tim Burgess. And you have to agree with him.

While long players by some of their 'baggy' contemporaries sound dated, the Charlatans' songs have become classics. And Tim remembers that first flush of fame (they were one of a number of indie bands who found mainstream success around that time) fondly.

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'When we did the first single, Indian Rope, I did quite nervously say to Martin [Blunt, bassist and Charlatans founder] 'I don't know how we're going to better this track'. He said we probably will - he was already thinking about the next step and I was living in the moment.

'The first album was everything I dreamed of. We got to meet people in bands who we never even thought we'd meet. We met the Beastie Boys, Iggy Pop, Ice T, we went on Top of the Pops,' he says.

Sadly, drummer Jon Brookes will not be joining them on the tour.

The band were playing a show in Philadelphia when he collapsed and stopped breathing on stage. He was later diagnosed with a brain tumour and Verve drummer Pete Salisbury is filling in on the UK dates while Jon receives treatment.

With a back catalogue including songs like Weirdo, Can't Get Out Of Bed and One to Another you're almost guaranteed a good night.

And Happy Mondays and Black Grape legend Shaun Ryder will be supporting them.

'He should definitely add to the evening, I'd say,' says Tim. 'It should be great.'

But the show isn't just a trip down memory lane.

They'll also be playing tracks from their just released 11th studio album We Who Touch, which has notched up the band's highest chart position for four years and saw them teaming up with the revered producer Youth.

And Tim is clearly feeling as creative as ever.

'I love Youth. I thought he was a first rate guy to produce and arrange the album. He said to me 'I'll pull you back if you go too far and push you if you don't'. He reigned me in a little bit, but I think that's a much easier job than trying to push somebody. I think the record is quite a brave record in a way. It's exactly what I wanted to make. Some of the songs I think are the best ever,' he enthuses. But then he's in the lucky position of still living the dream he had as a teenager.

'When I was 13 I wanted to do something to do with music. I've always been in to it. I was waiting for the right band to come along really.

'It's a dream and an escape in a lot of ways.'

When he's not doing his day job with the Charlatans, Tim has some musical side projects on the go, including one with members of Klaxons and the Horrors which began when they were 'bored between Christmas and new year'.

He's also a champion of new bands, including the trio Factory Floor, one of whom is former Norwich resident and Kaito member Nikki Colk.

'There's a lot of great bands around at the moment,' he says.

So what advice would he give a band just starting out?

'Just be as brave as you can and as far out as you can. You have to be different to make a difference. I think the Charlatans' first three singles were pretty weird really,' he says.

The Charlatans and Shaun Ryder play the UEA, Norwich, on Thursday October 21. Box office 01603 508050.

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