Meet: Tim Burgess is Telling Stories in aid of flood relief

When The Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess agreed to play a DJ set at the Hebden Bridge Trades Club  on Saturday he couldn’t have forseen the Boxing Day floods that flooded the club’s cellar and decimated other local businesses. 

But true to his reputation as one of the nicest men in pop Tim has slotted in a special Telling Stories flood fundraiser on Saturday evening. Tim will be reading from his best-selling biography Telling Stories , doing a Q and A and signing some very limited edition event posters for a tenner.  Paul Clarke caught up with Tim to find out more about why he is Telling Stories this weekend.

The Trades DJ gig is your first of the year so what was your reaction when you saw the extent of the flooding in the town?

It was on Boxing Day, so the coverage was somehow even worse than had it been at another time. Most people in the UK were at home with their families – there’s a feeling at Christmas of people have a rest at the end of the year and forgetting work or whatever. It was so sad to see what had happened to people’s houses and businesses – record shops, venues and bookshops are places I spend a lot of time and the news was reporting that they were all ruined by the floods. As the story was unfolding, I could see on social media that there was a spirit that everyone would work together to help out. It’s that sort of togetherness that only comes from adversity and it was time for people to do what they could.

You’re already thrown in couple of Kendal Calling weekend passes and some Tim Peaks goodies for a flood relief fund auction, but what else are you doing to help?

I called The Trades Club and asked if they had a spare hour I could borrow the venue for on the Saturday evening – we couldn’t do anything as a band as we’ve just finished touring and a couple of people were on holiday. I’d done the Telling Stories thing in theatres and at festivals around the country so we’ve got the venue from 6pm for an hour and we’ve asked people to make any donation instead of a ticket price. Lots of the people of Hebden Bridge are the people affected so it’s not just about the money, I just wanted to show support and it was the best way that I knew – we’ve made a print for the event which lots of people who can’t make it, have said they’ll buy. It’s a case of everyone doing what they can really.

This could be a very different sort of Telling Stories given the circumstances and there are a lot of Charlatans fans in the town.

I’m hoping there’s a few Charlatans fans in town. Otherwise it’s just a guy they don’t know, saying stuff. There’s been a lot of positive feedback so far and the word is getting around, so I’m hoping it’ll be something that people will enjoy, despite the circumstances.

And the DJ set could also be very different experience as people will definitely be coming to party after the horrors of the deluge.

Going to a club has always had an element of forgetting about your troubles for an hour or two and the fact that you are with friends and hearing songs that you love can go towards the process of emerging from difficult times. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing compared to the days that people have put in clearing up or helping each out – but everything counts and I’ve seen the spirit that’s so strong in Hebden Bridge.

Back to the day job it’s been one of the best ever years for The Charlatans in what has been a long career – why is that?

I think Modern Nature really struck a chord with people and the reaction to it has been brilliant. Our final gig of 2015 was at Brixton Academy with Echo & The Bunnymen supporting us – I could see the reaction to new songs of ours like Come Home Baby and Let The Good Times Be Never Ending and the whole place was bouncing .  We’ve always tried to stay relevant and rather than it being just our original audience, there’s lots of younger kids who maybe only know us from our recent singles on 6Music or whatever. A real highlight for us was playing The Castlefield Bowl in Manchester in July – a perfect summer’s day, 8,000 people singing along and all our friends and family around. Stephen and Gillian from New Order even came on to play Sproston Green with us so that’ll live long in our memories. So, yeah, an album that people seemed to love and lots of memorable gigs, that’s what you want as a band.

What were the highlights of last year?

Band wise, it was Modern Nature and some of the best gigs we’ve ever played. Personally it was the nativity play that my nearly 3 year old son was in.

Your DJing has really taken off so is spinning the discs something you will continue in 2016?

Definitely – it’s something I’ve always done since the early days of The Heavenly Social with The Chemical Brothers and Andrew Weatherall. I’ve got DJ sets coming up in Belfast, Edinburgh and Glasgow and I’m sure there’ll be a few more along the way in 2016.

Tim Burgess is Telling Stories at Hebden Bridge Trades Club on Saturday 9 Jan and has DJ sets at Love and Death Belfast on Jan 29 and Glasgow’s Record Factory on February 26.

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