North by Northwich is the title of the 10 day take-over of a small market town nestled in the Cheshire countryside.

Northwich is the home of the Charlatans, who are hosting the festival, and is where their Big Mushroom studio is based, although the exact location has been a secret for decades!

North by Northwich includes a gig for the Charlatans at the Salty Dog Pub along with special guests Deja Vega and the Blinders, an exhibition of their photos and memorabilia along with conversation sessions for them with Dave Haslam and Gary Neville.

We met three of the band at The Seafarer, a chip shop for a speed interview chat. Each interview was timed for four minutes four seconds (or thereabouts), which is the length of one of their biggest hits, ‘North Country Boy’

The chippy is also a sit-down eatery, and there was plenty of room for the interviews taking place. The serving counter was decorated in Charlatans teabags and North by Northwich mugs - all ready for the perfect brew!

Tim Burgess, Tony Rogers and Martin Blunt awaited their speed interviews in anticipation as their PR got everyone organised. We were the first to interview Tim...


Tim Burgess (Lead Vocals)

T: How's it going?

S: Pretty good, Tim. How's it going for you?

T: I am pretty tired at the moment really.

S: I'm not surprised, as you've a lot going on right now, haven't you?

T: Yeah!

S: I've got some questions and they probably appear really random, but …

T: Can I put my glasses on?

S: Yeah, sure you put your glasses on. I have to take mine off to read! So how on Earth did you get Ian Rankin (Scottish crime writer and author of the ‘Rebus’ novels – Ed) to work with you?

T: Well, he was on the radio talking about some bands I really like, and I just reached out to him on Twitter and started to talk to him about music, and I told him I was coming up to Edinburgh. We arranged to meet, and he just gave me a guided tour all around Edinburgh and it was amazing.

We became friends. and the first thing he did was he wrote a short story for my record label. He asked me if it should be about anything, and I suggested it should be about Christmas. Craig Parkinson read it and I put it out on the record.

S:That's amazing! It's so random but absolutely incredible.

T Yeah!

S: I was looking at what you're doing over the next six months or so, and you're doing shedloads of festivals. Which UK festival are you looking forward to the most?

T: I really like Latitude, but I'm also looking forward to going to to Great Estate in Cornwall (www.greatestatefestival.co.uk) as we've not been there since 1991, so it would be nice to get back to Cornwall.

S: I'll be at Latitude as well.

T: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah! It's just amazing.

S: I've heard there's a Waitrose there

T: No, Marks and Spencer's

S: Ah, right! What does it feel like to be voted the eleventh greatest Manchester Band of all time?

T: I didn't know we were, but it sounds ok. Who would be ahead? The Hollies?

S: Oasis, and Joy Division might have been in there somewhere. It's a very mixed list. You once made me a cup of tea, a cup of Lady Grey, with a lot of milk in Tim's Peak. What a brilliant concept that was! How did you come up with it?

T: Well, it started out on Twitter, and I started posting what my favourite songs were, and gigs I was going to, and things like that. It was working okay. I had a few followers, then one morning I posted, “Would anyone like a cup of coffee?” and I got more responses from that than anything else.

So,it started with a tweet, I should say! (Immediately, I hear Hot Chocolate’s ‘It Started with a Kiss’) and Tim Peaks came about - it was all metaphorical and metaphysical, and then it went from the metaphysical to the physical, and we got a place and we started to put bands on, so that's it really.

S: Thank you very much. I've just been told we have to move on.

T: Oh, wow! That was quick!

S: Thank you very much.


Martin Blunt (Bass Guitar)

S: Hello Martin, I'm Shirley Procter from Pennyblackmusic. Lovely to meet you! So, you play bass guitar, don't you?

M: At the moment, yeah.

S: Have you heard the jokes about how to confuse a bass player?

M: No, they usually replace that with drummers! So, how do you confuse a bass player?

S: You give them the music.

M: Oh, right, okay. Yep, okay… (Laughs)

S: I play acoustic guitar, not very well!

M: Yeah, never mind.

S: What’s your favourite album you’ve recorded and why?

M: Erm, there's so many! I've got fond memories of ‘Up to Our Hips’ and well, chaotic memories, as on the face of a Geordie romp, I was detained during it at Her Majesty's Pleasure.

Yeah, ‘Up to Our Hips’ and ‘Us and Us Only’ and the times around ‘Modern Nature’ are dear to my heart.

S: Thank you. I looked at all the touring you're doing, and you're covering quite a few UK festivals. Which one are you looking forward to the most?

M: All of them, the band is at our best live - live is where we exude, and it gets me out of the house! I'm looking forward to it all.

S: Do you do glamping, or do you rough it?

M: Ooh, that's a bit personal, isn't it? (Laughs) A bit of both, actually. I've never been that keen - going to a gig in Wellington boots just doesn't appeal to me.

S: So, not Glastonbury then?

M: Mmm, errr…not unless they put a really big tent over it! A big marquee! (Laughs)

S: Well, I'm looking forward to seeing you at Latitude as I'll be there, too.

M: Oh, brilliant!

S: You've collaborated with quite a few people. Who would you like to collaborate with next?

M: That was on a spur of the moment thing with Ian Rankin, but it all depends. It’s never thought out.

S: So, it’s very much ad hoc?

M: Yeah. Probably. I'd really like to do some songs with a female vocalist.

S: That would be a completely different dynamic.

M: Yeah! I think that hopefully that will be on the cards in the near future.

S: Anyone in particular?

M: Not telling you that.

S: OK, thank you. Who are you currently listening to?

M: Blackbirds. I can't think of anybody else. Actually, the soundtrack to ‘Baby Driver’, and the album that came afterwards with the stuff that didn't go into the film. I know it's a compilation, but there's some really good stuff on those albums.

S: Coincidentally, on Sunday evening, I watched ‘North by Northwest’ (the Alfred Hitchcock film) with a friend who had never seen a Hitchcock film in his life. I noticed the design of ‘North by Northwich’ looks very similar …

M: Oh, it's an homage.

S: I thought as much. Right, I've been told I have to shut up and stop asking you questions. Thank you very much for your time.

M: Did your friend enjoy ‘North by Northwest’?

S: He did. Yes.

M: Good stuff! Hitchcock is just amazing.

Tony Rogers (Keyboards)

S: Hello, Tony.

T: Hello there, nice to meet you.

S: Nice to meet you too. I'm Shirley, and we're from Pennyblackmusic. To start off with, which UK festival are you looking forward to the most?

T: I don’t know, and that's the God’s honest truth. I don't even know which ones we're playing. If you can tell me the ones we're playing at, I'll tell you.

S: Festival No. 6, Latitude, Great Estate in Cornwall,

T: I tell you what I'm looking forward to; Festival No. 6. (www.festivalnumber6.com) That's the one.

S: Amanda (nodding towards our photographer) has been there, and she absolutely loved it.

T: Yeah, that would be the one I'm looking forward to. There's so much going on this year, you know, what with America, Australia, New Zealand, so, yeah, Festival No. 6.

S: Excellent. On ‘Different Days’, your last album, you did a lot of collaborations. Who else would you like to work with?

T: Well, he's dead, but John Lennon, I'd have loved to have done a track with John Lennon. A lot of them are dead. That's the problem, and you'd have to choose from the living ones. Yeah, that would have been amazing. I'd love to have worked with Paul McCartney too That would be cool.

S: And who are you listening to right now?

T: Us! I've been learning songs! (Laughs!). I've been playing us and that's the truth! “Oh, that's how I did that!” I have to relearn the songs that we did years ago.

S: What happened to muscle memory?

T: Ooh, forget that! Well, you know what? When you sit down, it actually becomes second nature. But there's always things that you forget – there are three keyboards on certain songs and you can't play them, so you have to pick out the one that is the most prominent. You can't play them all. So you just do a different version. So, at the moment, it's the God's honest truth, what I'm listening to is me.

S: (Laughs!) That's brilliant- you've got to remember what you're supposed to do! I play guitar badly, and I still have the have the chords in front of me because I don't always remember. I get that completely. Practice, practice, practice! Can I talk to you about the brain tumour charity that you're a patron of?

T: You certainly can, yeah.

S: What does being a patron involve?

T: Well, I personally donate every single year. One is just awareness, making sure that everyone is aware, passing on knowledge, stuff like that. Fundraising as well; there's people doing lots of fundraising, for research.

But a patron itself; it's a great charity, and brain tumours are on the increase, and not a lot of people know that. All the funding - well, most of the funding from the government goes to the common cancers, the most common ones, and for me, obviously, there is the passionate memory of Jon (Jon Brookes, the drummer of the Charlatans, died age 44 of a brain tumour in August 2013).

It's just making sure that people don't die unnecessarily. It's very difficult , isn't it? They have to do research to prevent deaths.

S: With Tessa Jowell sadly dying a few days ago, the government have committed to more funding to brain cancer research, which is fantastic.

T: It is.

S: Yes, it focuses minds, but for you it is entirely personal, just like for the government it was entirely personal as she was one of theirs.

T: With Jon’s passing, it has raised a lot more awareness. It kickstarted a lot of things, and it has been growing ever since.

S: So what sort of fundraising do you do for them?

T: We just get involved. A lot of fundraising comes through us, asking can we advertise on our Facebook pages, so we do a lot of that. We help out that way. We don't get involved with lots, but we probably will be doing another show. Basically we help other people raise awareness.

S: Okay, I'm being told we've run out of time and I've overrun, and I've only asked you four questions.

T: Well, that's me and my long answers. Keep asking until someone else comes! I don't mind!

S: What's your favourite album that you've recorded?

T: ‘Modern Nature’.

S: Why?

T: I don't know. I just like the variation of songs, the diversity.

S: Okay, and what about another band? What's your favourite album to listen to that somebody else has done?

T: Deep Purple.

S: Really.

T: Yeah (Laughs).

S: My brother-in-law was the drummer for Deep Purple before they were famous

T: Was he really?

S: Yeah, Dave Pinchbeck, and Ritchie Blackmore still invites him to Rainbow’s gigs!

S: Thank you so much, it's been a joy to talk to you, but I have to stop as there's a queue of people behind me waiting to interview you!

T: Thank you very much.


Interviews: Shirley Procter
Photographs: Amanda J Window
www.amandajwindow.com















Related Links:

http://www.thecharlatans.net/
https://twitter.com/thecharlatans
https://www.facebook.com/thecharlatans


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