Tim Burgess interview: Anything can happen at Tim Peak's Diner

The Charlatans main man tells us all about his Tim Peaks concept which will be visiting a festival near you this summer.

Ben Smith

Last updated: 19th Apr 2016.
Originally published: 15th Apr 2016

Image: Tim Burgess

As if being the lead singer in much-loved indie stalwarts The Charlatans wasn't enough, blonde-bobbed frontman Tim Burgess has now moved into festival curation with his wildly successful Tim Peaks concept.

Part coffee-shop, part travelling music venue, Tim Peaks sees Burgess rock up at the nation's festivals where he invites various friends and special guests for acoustic gigs, talks, DJ sets, Northern Soul dance classes and anything else that takes the singer's fancy. 

Tim Peaks will be stopping off at Liverpool Sound City, Kendal Calling, Electric Fields and Festival No.6 this summer, so we found out from Tim what we can expect and, of course, how The Charlatans are shaping up for the forthcoming festival season. (Watch Tim and Nick Heyward play 'Fantastic Day' at Kendal Calling below)

What was the original idea for the Tim Peaks concept and how has it evolved?

It all started from a tweet. I was new to Twitter and asked if anyone fancied a coffee. A hundred people reacted. It was kind of like an inverse version of 'The Emperor’s New Clothes' – nobody pointed out there was no actual caffeine and nobody burst the bubble. 

Tim Peaks was a metaphorical and metaphysical for a while and then the organisers from Kendal Calling called and said they had a log cabin that would work well as a real Tim Peaks. 

I called some friends like Edwyn Collins and Roddy Frame and within a couple of hours we had ourselves a line up - that was five years ago and we now take Tim Peaks to the Isle of Wight Festival, Liverpool Sound City, Festival No. 6 and newer ones like Forgotten Fields in Tunbridge Wells and Electric Fields in Scotland.  

You have a packed summer full of festival appearances - what highlights can we look forward to if we pop into Tim Peaks?

There's lots planned and we source some stuff on the spot too - The Vaccines and Kaiser Chiefs swung by Tim Peaks at Kendal Calling to DJ last year so anything can happen. We've had an unannounced set from Suzanne Vega and she loved it so much she came back and played the next day too.

We have well known bands like BMX Bandits and Frankie & The Heartstrings play, but some great new bands too - we have Professor Tim O'Brien who came along to make a scale model of the solar system last year.

We've got Robin Dewhurst who is the dad of Josh from Blossoms. He played on their brilliant Radio 1 session so we asked him to drop by for a set.

You've become a real supporter of new bands recently - who should we be looking forward to this festival season?

Yeah, it's a great showcase for new bands. I'd recommend Cabbage (watch the video for 'Kevin' below), Horsebeach, Yucatan, Hot Vestry, Blueprint Blue, Tear and Teen Canteen. By chance they are all playing at Tim Peaks at various festivals this summer.

The Charlatans have been playing festivals now since the early 1990s - what are the major changes you've seen over the years?

The audiences are maybe more varied. Festivals used to be a specialist thing but now they have much broader appeal. The food is a lot better too.

What are your best festival memories from over the years both as a band and a fan? 

Opening Glastonbury was pretty memorable last year. (Watch The Charlatans playing Glastonbury in 2002). And as a fan seeing New Order headlining Glastonbury in 1987 was hard to beat.

Are there any particular festivals you're looking forward to this summer?  

I really love Kendal Calling each year and Festival Number 6 is such a beautiful site. Electric Fields is a new one I'm looking forward too. The Charlatans are headlining Godiva Festival in Coventry, that's a free one. I like the idea of people being able to watch bands for free.

Can you tell us about your new book? 

It's called Tim Book Two - or to give it its longer title 'Vinyl Adventures From Istanbul To San Francisco'. I travelled around finding vinyl recommendations from people like David Lynch, Johnny Marr and Howard Marks. It's a celebration of vinyl, record shops and sharing your favourite music with friends. 

What's next for the Charlatans? Are you planning any more solo records?

I've just been recording some songs with Peter Gordon, a brilliant composer from New York who worked with Arthur Russell. The Charlatans next record is taking shape too.

Catch Tim Burgess at Liverpool Sound City in May, Kendal Calling in July and Electric Fields in August - Tickets for Liverpool Sound City available via the box below.

Read our interview with Money: "We owe a lot to Manchester really"

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