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Tim's telling stories of drugs and rock'n'roll

Some people don't agree with the new Tim Burgess. "I remember somebody wrote on The Charlatans forum, 'Tim, don't you ever feel tempted to just get really f***ed up?'" says the 45-year-old vocalist. It's an interesting question. Maybe they just miss the old Tim -- the lad who used to fall down stairs and whose bandmates once assisted him in a fairly messy procedure that involved some cocaine, a straw and the removal of one's trousers.

Thankfully, those days are long gone. Tim is still with The Charlatans -- the band he's fronted since 1989 -- and he's still got a stupid haircut. But the gangly British rock star has been clean for six years, replacing cigarettes, alcohol and a full-on coke addiction with a prolific work schedule. And Transcendental Meditation, of course.

"I can't imagine what it would be like any more," says Tim of his old ways. "It's just so far away from what I am today, really. I mean, six years is a long time -- I never think about it.

"Sometimes, like, someone will be having a drink and I'll think, 'Aw, that looks quite pleasant', or someone will be maybe smoking a cigarette and I'll think, 'Aw, that smells good', but I never really think about doing it. It's just a phase that I feel has passed. I just decided to stop, but since that day, I've never gone back."

And why would he? A clear head means more time for music-making and, oh yeah, getting back to nature. "Well, you can't do Transcendental Meditation if you're high on cocaine, or drunk," he smiles.

"I would never have really been as candid, I don't think, in the book if I was still doing it, you know what I mean? ... "

Ah yes, the book. Indeed, Telling Stories (named after The Charlatans' fifth studio album) is Tim's long-awaited autobiography, and, coincidentally, has arrived in shops the same year that our baggy jumper-wearing friend has a new record to promote. Tim started work on the book at the end of 2010.

"I went to Wales with my girlfriend," he says, "and I got her to interview me, and she wanted to hear stories about [famous Manchester nightclub] Hacienda, and stories about [The Charlatans' original keyboardist] Rob Collins -- stuff like that, and I just told as many stories as I could and recorded it all. I came back a couple of weeks later and started typing it out, and that's how it started, really."


It was an enjoyable process, he says. Natural and casual -- just like the making of his new album, Oh No I Love You. The latter has the feel of a solo record (his first since 2003's I Believe). But it's actually a collaborative indie pop offering courtesy of both Burgess and American musician Kurt Wagner (Lambchop).

Throughout the years, there have been plenty of reasons for The Charlatans to break up, not to mention the death of a member (the aforementioned Rob Collins was killed in a car crash in 1996), illness (in 2010, drummer Jon Brookes underwent treatment for a brain tumour) and Tim's relocation to Los Angeles with his American wife (he is now divorced and living in London). But the lads will soon be setting their sights on album number 12.

"I think the reason is because I like the members of the band," says Tim of The Charlatans' longevity. "It's always important to have other things going on because then that makes that special so, me doing my solo record, or producing or DJing or whatever, it allows me to set some distance from the band but then come back to it and treat it with respect ... "

Oh No I Love You is out now. Tim Burgess plays the Workman's Club, Friday, October 26