INTERVIEW: The Charlatans


The Charlatans, Martin Blunt (bass), Jon Brookes (drums), Tim Burgess (vocals), Mark Collins (guitar) and Tony Rogers (keyboards) and Universal Music have announced the release of the band’s sixth album ‘Us And Us Only’ as a deluxe edition on March 28th 2011. Originally released in 1999, this deluxe edition features a collection of bonus tracks that include b-sides, live recordings, radio sessions and rare remixes. The Charlatans are a band that have stood the test of time, have always mainted a cult following and are a gift that just keeps giving. As a HUGE Charlatans fan I managed
to contain myself long enough to speak with Mark Collins about the new release, Ouija boards and amongst other things pissing blood…you know the usual afternoon conversion.

Why have you decided to release a deluxe edition of Us and Us Only? Why not Tellin Stories or The Charlatans?

To be honest with you it was up to the record company that said they wanted to release it and as a band we like the album so had no problem with the choice. On personal choice we would have probably gone for Wonderland (The Charlatans-7th Studio album) cause its ten years this year since
its release. Us and Us Only is like eleven and half years since it’s released but I don’t mind as I actually like both the albums. We are going to re release Wonderland in September anyway so that’s fine.

What’s your personal favourite Charlatans album?

I loved The Charlatans and Tellin Stories albums but I think Wonderland and Us and Us Only have a certain magic about them as well. For Us and Us Only I think it was a really positive for us, Tim had gone over to live in America and it was a statement to sow that none of that mattered and if we
wanted to make music we would make it happen.

Do you feel under pressure to sometimes sound like early Charlatans? Thinking fans expect another The Charlatans of another Tellin Stories?

I think when we did the first album after Some Friendly we were getting asked that yeah and if we felt the pressure to make a Some Friendly 2 and we went completely the other way and started going electronic and we just get excited about trying to make things different. Sometimes we will
have a certain core that will always be with us musically but I think we can pretty much float around and do what we want with the sounds that we can create.

What is like for you guys releasing music in 2011 compared to back in 1990? Is it a totally different music setup?

We were talking about making a new album the other day and we are going to try and start getting an album together in time for a release next year. We don’t worry about the charts too much as the way people buy music now is totally different, more people listen to music now than ever before,
everyone has an iPod, you can access music quickly and easily now. I think if we can get people to listen to our music then that’s great.

Can you clear up a rumour for us, it was reported that during the recording of your last album Who WE Touch that you used a Ouija board to conjure up spirits such as Ian Curtis for artistic inspiration?

I don’t know, I did hear that one myself but I didn’t see a Ouija board hanging around when we were doing the album, I can definitely say it was nothing to do with me.

During the era when you guys released Between 10th and 11th, it was a particularly hedonistic time for you; I read that it got to the point that there was pissing blood after heavy sessions. do things get that messy now?

I have calmed down a bit as I didn’t want to be six foot under, we definitely had our moments, the 90s were an hedonistic period, lots of partying and allot of experimenting but we still managed to write and record…it was great.

You got into The Charlatans through the Inspiral Carpets, if you hadn’t have ever become guitarist for the Charlatans what do you think you would be doing instead?

I actually got into The Charlatans through a mutual friend of theirs and The Inspiral Carpets, if I hadn’t of been in The Charlatans (laughs) I would probably be really rich and living in the Caribbean right now.

How’s Jon holding up? (During a live performance in Philadelphia in 2010, Jon Brookes collapsed on stage and a few days later was diagnosed with a brain tumour)

Jon is alright, he has been responding to his treatment really well, its still ongoing and we are actually meeting up with him to rehearse tomorrow, he’s played a couple of gigs with us, seems a bit tired at the end of the day but still wants to play. We are due to play a gig on Saturday and he’s
playing with us for that and he’s up for all the dates we are going to do this year.

Tim and yourself are to embark on an series of intimate and acoustic live shows starting out on March 8th, can you tell us a bit more about this?

We did a little acoustic gig in Manchester a while back, a fundraising gig and the response from hat was great and a few offers came in for me and Tim to do a few more and we thought yeah alright we’ll do it. We have worked out slightly different versions of songs that would have normally been
keyboard based and dropping them onto an acoustic guitar.

What do you think has given The Charlatans the longevity and loyal fan base that they still have today?

I think allot of people have grown up with us and kind of like where we have been and like where we are going, we have picked up some new fans with the last album. I don’t really know what the secret is, I just think our fans like our head space and where we are at.

Personal favourite moment of playing live with the band?

There’s been so many, Brixton gigs are always special, I enjoy playing Glasgow Barrowlands, it’s just mental up there and I love playing in Glasgow. Last year we travelled to places we had never been to like South East Asia and we were blown away by the response we got there.

I have to ask this on behalf of all your loyal Welsh fans…why do you never come to Wales anymore?

We keep on at our booking agents, we want to play Wales, me and Tim are playing Wrexham in a couple of weeks time. We will be back in Cardiff that’s for sure.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.