INDIE rock veterans The Charlatans will be returning to Scotland next week when they perform at the hotly anticipated Electric Fields festival.
The band saw a return to form with the release of their twelfth album ‘Modern Nature’ last year, which served as a tribute to their late drummer Jon Brookes who sadly passed away from cancer in 2013. As they’ve done in the past though, the band showed themselves to be the ultimate survivalists and the album was lauded as one of the best in their long, illustrious career.
Of course, it is a testament to The Charlatans’ long-standing appeal that, unlike many of their 90’s contemporaries, they still manage to attract huge crowds and are still found at the top end of many festival bills. The undying enthusiasm and passion they hold for their work continues to make them a compelling live prospect as they look to bring a hit-packed set to the festival with a good mix of new and old for the nostalgia-oriented.
Only in its third year, Electric Fields will be hosting its biggest line-up to date over two days, with the Manchester legends set to headline the Main Stage on Friday night. We caught up with frontman Tim Burgess, who is also curating the Tim Peaks stage, in the run up to the event.
“The setting looks fantastic – we’re really looking forward to headlining of course. We’ve not played that many shows this year so it’s a chance to really enjoy playing without having to leg it to the next show.”
‘A festival is a great chance to watch some other bands too – I sorted the line-up for Tim Peaks so I’ll be watching as many bands as possible there – really looking forward to seeing Horsebeach and Tear especially.’
With a lot of experience of playing festivals up and down the country, Burgess appreciates the smaller scale events because of their community spirit.
“I love going to festivals but maybe sometimes it’s harder to head off and explore the massive ones – you can soon end up an hour from where you need to be. We spend a lot of our time at festivals each summer and smaller ones mean you get to meet the people behind them – the source of the passion that made it happen. It’s more the spirit of a festival than the size that matters to me.”
The emergence of more and more festivals like this is something that hasn’t gone unnoticed though with music fans now given more choice than ever with where to get their weekend-long dose of escapism, ‘Yeah, festivals were a fairly specialist kind of thing when I first starting going. In 1987 Glastonbury was on the telly and wasn’t really mentioned in the papers – now everyone goes to them. At one time I’m guessing Jodrell Bank radio telescope and Portmeirion, where they filmed the prisoner, would never have considered allowing a festival to take place – now both have amazing weekends which are talked about all over the world.’
There may be a lot to choose from over the years but Burgess discusses the festival memories that particularly stand out, ‘The Charlatans were the last band to play before David Bowie in the UK. He headlined The Isle of Wight Festival and we were on just before him. I had a quick chat with him before he played and it was great to think that he was aware of our music. Watching New Order headline Glastonbury in 1987 was pretty good too.’
The frontman won’t just be performing though; he’ll also be bringing his infamous Tim Peaks concept to Scotland for the first time. An idea that snowballed from a single tweet, it has been a firm success at Kendal Calling and has since cropped up around the UK at a number of festivals. This will be its first time in north of the border though and will be an exciting addition to Electric Fields with Burgess curating a stage with a lineup full of his favourite upcoming bands such as Teen Canteen, Horsebeach and veteran DJ/film director Don Letts.
‘It started with a tweet around six years ago and since then we’ve raised over £20,000 for The David Lynch Foundation and hundreds of bands have played – special guests have included Roddy Frame and Suzanne Vega – I’ve been known to do a set from time to time too’
Always keen to champion new talent, Burgess discusses how he picks the line-up, ‘There’s no set way really – some are friends, others are bands I’ve just heard online or on the radio. Twitter means you can get in touch with them right away and some bands end up playing at Tim Peaks at 6 different festivals over the summer’
‘We usually sort a couple of secret sets – at the last festival it was Blossoms and Pete Doherty. Definitely don’t expect them though. I think if you spend enough time in there, you can expect to see your favourite new band – that might be Blueprint Blue, Yucatan or Teen Canteen. Expect damn fine coffee.’
If that’s not enough, then he’ll also be doing a reading of his new book ‘Vinyl Adventures from Istanbul to San Francisco’ which was published a few weeks ago and details his voyage to find particular records, ‘I’ve asked people I admire – some hugely famous and others maybe not so much – to recommend one album that I then set off to find in an independent record shop. – it was quite a road trip’. It should make for interesting listening for vinyl fans at the festival when looking for a break away from the music as the frontman definitely looks set to make his mark on this year’s Electric Fields.
And when festival season dies down, what’s next for The Charlatans? ‘We loved the last album that we made and played some of our best shows ever – for the moment we are just enjoying ourselves. We’ll probably start talking about heading back to the studio but we don’t really put too much pressure on ourselves’.