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The only ones
Those lips! That hair! No, the luscious Tim Burgess explains to Fiona Shepherd, whatever the Americans may think, they’re not Echo And The Bunnymen, they’re The Charlatans.
‘Could you make this quite brief? Ten minutes or so?‘
The Charlatans‘ press officer Sue hovers around.
mental egg-timer at the ready. trying to contend with an officeful ofdodgy telephones and a string ofanxious journalists. impatient to conduct the first set of interviews since the group returned from their projected domination of the States earlier this year. Singer Tim Burgess wrests the receiver from Sue’s hands and hurls a game ‘Hi! How are you doing‘." down the line. Ten minutes to penetrate this man‘s psyche. to find out what makes him tick‘.’ Nah. Stick to basics. Like the glitzy continent for a start.
America. it transpires. was not for the Charlatans the same hedonistic playground that seduced the slap-happy Mondays into extended recording sessions-cum-holidays and facilitated much conspicuous consumption (of narcotic and alcoholic substances mainly) among their entourage. Tim is fairly dismissive of the whole nation. dubbing it ‘over there‘ and displaying a curious amnesia when pressed about the band‘s experiences across the pond. He'd just as soon reply in monosyllables. tailing off and giggling awkwardly. abashed at his own reticence. than chatter irrelevancies about visiting the steps in Washington which feature in The Exorcist.
However. after several false starts while he attempts to marshal his thoughts. Tim hits on why the States generally washed over him. ‘It‘s in a bit
ofa bad state really. All the different places you go
have separate identities. rather than anything communal. Every place you go is a contradiction of the place you just left.‘
But ifThe Charlatans didn‘t fully comprehend America. you can be sure America didn‘t fully comprehend The Charlatans. It took a Number One album before the group were allowed to outgrow and outstrip certain generic and geographic stereotypes in this country. but even with the benefit of foresight. the Americans were grinding the same axes and hewing the same stumbling blocks. The Hammond organ and Manchester have a lot to answer for.
‘Everyone thought for some reason — I haven‘t got a clue why — that we were — it’s really poxy.
actually -- the new licho and the Bunnymen. 'l‘hat’s
what really bugged me about the whole American thing. that they have to have something they can relate to before they see something new.
"I‘hey thought that lingland was London a couple of weeks ago and now they just think that England is Manchester. 'l’hey can only relate to one thing at a time. can't relate to two separate cities. so to all the new bands that are going over. they all say “( )h. the somebodys from Manchester. The Shamen from Manchester." or whatever.
"l'hey take everything very seriously over there —— how talented the musician is or something like that. We‘ve never considered ourselves to be musicians anyway - just a collective doing good songs. rather than individuals.‘
Still. America lapped up The Charlatans because. just as we exercise a bizarre fascination for all things musical. American and underground. they are constantly moved to sniffout the latest British sensation. And you can't get much more British (or sensational for that matter) than The
The Charlatans; lunatic fringe?
(‘harlatans Like James. their cultural identity is watertight and their pursuit of perfect contemporary pop tireless.
Back on familiar soil. they prove resistant as ever
to analysing their long-term possibilities— ‘we just put our input in and other people go away and sort it out' — but are crystal clear on their immediate moves. ‘When we did “'l‘he Only One I Know“,
“Then” and Some Friend/y. it was single. tour. LP.
tour. interviews and all that. We just wanted to get away from it. just do some dates to play some new songs. no records coming out. You can‘t depend on your old stuff year in year out. so I think to re-invent ourselves would be more important than re-establishing ourselves.'
And with typical cerebral reasoning. 'l’im concludes by stating why their soon-to-be-recorded second album w ill run circles round Some Friend/y: "l'hc songs will just be better.‘ Oh well. as the saying goes. you can lead a star to a telephone. but you can‘t make him talk. The ( 'lmr/uttms play I/It’ Play/muse. Iz'tlt'tihm'g/i on
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