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“I always thought I had a ‘White Album’ in me

Tim Burgess has today (23 September) released his new 22-track double album Typical Music – an album he said he was “trying to create a wow effect”.

The uncompromising album follows The Charlatans frontman’s fifth album I Love The New Sky, which was released in 2020.

“People hear tracks like ‘The Center Of Me (Is A Symphony Of You)’ or ‘After This’ or ‘Magic Rising’ and go ‘wow,'” Burgess said NME. “They’re really excited about them. Because that’s what I wanted. What we were trying to do was wow with this exciting music, cartoon music, just everything in the mix.”

Recorded at Rockfield Studios with regular collaborators Daniel O’Sullivan and Thighpaulsandra, Typical Music is the result of an intense six-month writing period during lockdown. “I started writing because there wasn’t any actual touring,” Burgess explained. “Simon from Bella Union suggested that I won’t be touring for a while, so ‘why don’t you just write another record?’ and I thought ‘OK’.

“I couldn’t write anything for about six months, even though I tried. I just thought, ‘I don’t know what’s happening, maybe it’s because I haven’t had any new experiences or anything like that.’ And then I wrote Time That We Call Time, and after that it just started flying out of me. There was just no stopping it, it was like I was possessed or something, it was weird. I didn’t write anything for six months and then wrote 22 songs in six months.”

The songs, Burgess claimed, seemed to arrange themselves, taking any stylistic twists they needed, resulting in an extremely diverse collection that spanned space-age lounge pop, psych rock, Morricone Stampedes, and surf punk to name just a few of his catalog of genre references.

“Everything was written on acoustic guitar, and it just decided the direction things would go,” he said. “Here Comes The Weekend” I’m thinking of Jonathan Richman and The Velvet [Underground]“Curiosity” is like a carnival, there are parts from 10cc and Sparks and a lot of stuff.

“There’s some hip-hop stuff in there that I kind of like, I wanted to make it a little bit more electronic than the last album. In ‘LOST’, Fugazi meets Beach Boys, and then it’s off to some panda bear style thing. Those are all things I quote loosely, but really it was just our experiences in the studio with the songs we had and trying to make them sound as good as possible.”

Adding that the new record felt like his own ‘White Album’, Burgess said: ‘I always thought I had a ‘White Album’ in me! … I’ve always wanted to do that [a double album]. I thought I might do one on the last one [2020’s ‘I Love The New Sky’], but I just ran out of time – not songs, I ran out of time. And on this one I just wanted to give everything I had and that was 22 songs.”

The musician went on to say that streaming culture – which is often thought to be driven by short attention spans – was not a concern of his when creating or releasing the 22-track album. “I don’t really care if they are or not because I think the world is so open that anything is possible,” he explained. “I learned at the listening parties that people are willing to listen and I figured why not? Maybe people are ready to listen to two albums.”

Written for Burgess amid much personal upheaval, the album maintains an uplifting and upbeat tone, and he recently said he’s “fallen in love with the world again.” “I think it was through the audience,” he said. “People relying on each other and realizing how important music is to people, that’s kind of made me fall in love with the world again.

“The outside world is pretty crazy, but the world I tried to create is fine. While I was making the record, Brexit had happened, COVID happened, the war between Russia and Ukraine, and everything collapsed in that country, the strikes. Everyone went crazy, but making the album and doing the listening parties was actually a really good time for me.”

Tim Burgess
Tim Burgess CREDIT: Cat Stevens

Tracks like “In May” and “When I See You” reflect the rush of the new romance, but Burgess explained that while there are songs about “a certain someone” on the record, it’s mostly about his relationship with his son .

“I’m not in a relationship with his mother anymore and there are songs I made during that time where I tried to reassure him that everything was going to be okay and all those things,” he said. “Some of his lines appeared in certain songs – ‘bandages and blue drinks’ I think comes from Minecraft.

“There are songs about my dad who died during COVID and it’s a very beautiful thing because I was lucky enough to just sit next to him for the last three days of his life and I wouldn’t have missed that for the world want. And then yeah, of course I fell in love again, which is just a peaceful thing.”

There are also amusing references to Burgess having tea in Notting Hill with Aztec Camera’s Roddy Frame (in ‘A Quarter To Eight’) or singing ‘There, There, My Dear’ with Kevin Rowland of Dexy’s Midnight Runners (“After This”) and on the title track “Communing with an Alien” from 1983. “Aliens are all around us, you know,” joked Tim. I guess it was a lot easier to meet aliens in the 80’s. “Yeah, that was in the ’80s.”

The album ends with the karmic message “What is destined for you will not pass you by”. “It’s an old Scottish proverb and I found it very intriguing,” Burgess said. “If the album is about skin shedding and transformation and something that was basically recorded with masks, then I thought every song opened up another portal to another universe. Right? And so the last song, “What’s Meant For You…” is something like where you can sit back and just let everything be as it is. If the planets align, everything will work out.”

Alongside the new album, Burgess will be releasing a second volume of his The Listener Party Book and notes on further development of his acclaimed Twitter Listening Parties. “It’s changing shape a little bit, and that’s very exciting,” he said. “If anyone thought [the second book] wasn’t as good as volume one, I only got a sample a few days ago and the first page I turned to was Nirvana, the second was Blondie, and after that it was Yoko Ono and John Lennon.”

When he goes on tour with The Charlatans through Japan, Australia and New Zealand, there are also rumors from the band’s studio. “It’s small batches,” he revealed, “but we have a few songs that sound great.”

Tim Burgess’ new album Typical Music is available now through Bella Union

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