The Charlatans

on Friday 27 October 2006

eGigs caught up with Jon Brookes from The Charlatans to chat about their new album, their upcoming tour and life in the band...

How come you have decided to release a greatest hits at this point in your career?

Well we’ve got a new manager (Alan McGee) and he’s kinda looking at the bands history and I think we had some unfinished business with Universal records. We thought there was one more record that we could have released on the label. It’s been a rather transitional process for us at the moment – we’ve got a new label, and a new manager so we went back and did something that was pretty radical. We went back to the very first thing that we every released; ‘Indian Rope’, and we went as far as getting all the old movie footage of the band that we’ve been taking over the years. We wanted a definitive collection. We’ve done ‘Songs From the Other Side’ and ‘Melting Pot’ which was our take on interesting tunes but we had never had a record out with all the singles on.

Was it a conscious decision by the band or was it the record company pushing you into it?

It was decided by the manager and the band because we didn’t have a best of. It had been 16 years and we wanted to put one out. The title (Forever: The Singles) suggests the mood set of the band. It’s gonna be there forever to listen to.

Is this the end of the Charlatans?

You never can tell with The Charlatans. Every LP is our last LP. You never know what’s coming next. The singles are all compiled on one record, spanning various record labels over almost two decades. A few years ago that would have been hard to do.

Most bands that shot to fame in the Britpop scene have fallen by the wayside. What do you think it is that keeps you still going?

Well I think we put Indian Rope out at the end of the 80’s, that was when it was all kicking off with Madchester. When we first started that was the Manchester thing really. We were lumped into that initially but when people look back into the Manchester scene we are thankfully excluded from that party. We were still there in the 90’s when all those bands like Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene and Blur were doing their thing – we were still there selling number one records. When I look back at that period of time that makes me really happy – it’s almost like we’ve escaped being chained to the 80’s or the 90’s. I think that’s one of the best things we’ve achieved in our career.

Do you think it’s easy to catagorize The Charlatans style of music?

I don’t think you can really. If you look at the bands studio output we’ve gone from techno groove to touching on a kinda reggae vibe. I don’t think that it’s easy to do now. If you think about a lot of the emo or metal bands they can never move or make a difference to their sounds, all they can ever do is sound like a parody of themselves. I think with The Charlatans we’re alerted to moving to different kind of genres and it doesn’t have a negative effect on people’s perceptions of us. I think we transcend all that bullsh*t. We’re not categorised into a particular group – ie not Britpop or the Manchester thing. We’re certainly not categorised in music either.

I think the ability to be influenced by each other in the group is the one thing that’s kept us together. You take influences from what’s going on around you but I feel what we’ve tried to do is take the creative force of the band and use it as a motivational force and I think that’s what’s kept us going. Rather than rely on one person to dominate the whole group or destroy the group we’ve looked at each other for creativity and I think that’s put us in the unique position I spoke about earlier.

You played a couple of festivals this year, including V Festival. Do you not feel that you should have played higher up the bill?

It would be great to be second of third on the main stage but we’ve played at every single spot except the beer tent. That’s the problem really. We played the tent at T in the Park and there was about 20,000 people in there – it went down as one of the best gigs at TITP. It doesn’t matter to us really. Everyone mucks in at a festival.

Do you find that people go mad for your older hits but don’t really warm to your new material?

That happens a lot really. I think that’s just one of the factors that go into making a festival. You’re there to celebrate your music. I don’t think festivals are great for putting new music out. I do think if you’ve got a record out you have to promote it and if you just play your old stuff you’ll end up becoming a tribute band before too long. It’s not great if people don’t react in a positive way – but then again if they don’t leave that’s also a bonus.

Someone asked me a little while ago ‘When did The Charlatans start becoming camp?’, do you see yourselves as a camp band?

Yeah I don’t know. I don’t particularly see us a camp band. It maybe Tim Burgess that they’re referring to. I wouldn’t really say camp – I would probably use ambidextrous. Or maybe ambisextrous.

Are there any more solo projects on the way?

We’re always making plans but whether anything comes of it I don’t know. We’re all enjoying our time together and we think we’ve put something together that’s pretty good so we’re going to go and play our new songs to people. I think it works – we do enjoy being in a band - there’s nothing better. There’s times when you feel uncomfortable with certain things but nobodies pulled any weapons on anybody.

You have a new tour starting in November. Will there be any surprises?

We’re going to play the new LP from start to finish.

Does that mean you’re going to play every single in chronological order?

Yeah, I think so – that would be really good. I’m looking at the LP now and was thinking that Live Forever might be moved. But I don’t know.

You’re releasing ‘You’re So Pretty, We’re So Pretty’, which is quite an old track. Is that because you don’t have any new tunes?

We’ve got lots of new tunes but we thought it would be better to rerecord ‘You’re so Pretty, We’re so Pretty’. It was supposed to come out on Universal but they pulled the plug at the last minute. But we thought we would be typical Charlatans and meddle with the original formula and record it with Youth then release it as a single. We kinda got to do it our way – it was always going to come out and now it finally has.

What is your best gig memory?

I quite remember playing in Birmingham - the first and last time I’ve ever fainted at a gig. It was a pure rock n roll moment when you actually have to be revived after a gig. That’s taking rock n roll spirit to the limit.

What’s your most embarrassing moment?

Probably that. We just get down, get dirty, turn the lights up full and give them what they want.

Many thanks to Jon for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk to eGigs.

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article by: Scott Johnson

published: 28/10/2006 13:11

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