How come you have decided to release a greatest hits at this point in your career?
Well weve got a new manager (Alan McGee) and hes 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. Its been a rather transitional process for us at the moment weve 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 weve been taking over the years. We wanted a definitive collection. Weve 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 didnt 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. Its 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 whats 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 80s, 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 90s 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 its almost like weve escaped being chained to the 80s or the 90s. I think thats one of the best things weve achieved in our career.
Do you think its easy to catagorize The Charlatans style of music?
I dont think you can really. If you look at the bands studio output weve gone from techno groove to touching on a kinda reggae vibe. I dont think that its 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 were alerted to moving to different kind of genres and it doesnt have a negative effect on peoples perceptions of us. I think we transcend all that bullsh*t. Were not categorised into a particular group ie not Britpop or the Manchester thing. Were certainly not categorised in music either.
I think the ability to be influenced by each other in the group is the one thing thats kept us together. You take influences from whats going on around you but I feel what weve tried to do is take the creative force of the band and use it as a motivational force and I think thats whats kept us going. Rather than rely on one person to dominate the whole group or destroy the group weve looked at each other for creativity and I think thats 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 weve played at every single spot except the beer tent. Thats 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 doesnt matter to us really. Everyone mucks in at a festival.
Do you find that people go mad for your older hits but dont really warm to your new material?
That happens a lot really. I think thats just one of the factors that go into making a festival. Youre there to celebrate your music. I dont think festivals are great for putting new music out. I do think if youve got a record out you have to promote it and if you just play your old stuff youll end up becoming a tribute band before too long. Its not great if people dont react in a positive way but then again if they dont leave thats 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 dont know. I dont particularly see us a camp band. It maybe Tim Burgess that theyre referring to. I wouldnt really say camp I would probably use ambidextrous. Or maybe ambisextrous.
Are there any more solo projects on the way?
Were always making plans but whether anything comes of it I dont know. Were all enjoying our time together and we think weve put something together thats pretty good so were going to go and play our new songs to people. I think it works we do enjoy being in a band - theres nothing better. Theres 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?
Were going to play the new LP from start to finish.
Does that mean youre going to play every single in chronological order?
Yeah, I think so that would be really good. Im looking at the LP now and was thinking that Live Forever might be moved. But I dont know.
Youre releasing Youre So Pretty, Were So Pretty, which is quite an old track. Is that because you dont have any new tunes?
Weve got lots of new tunes but we thought it would be better to rerecord Youre so Pretty, Were 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 Ive ever fainted at a gig. It was a pure rock n roll moment when you actually have to be revived after a gig. Thats taking rock n roll spirit to the limit.
Whats 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.