The lead singer of the British band Charlatans talks to Metro, the Telegraph and The Independent about making it, detox and Transcendental Meditation.
“Tim Burgess, 44, should by rights be merely yet another rock casualty,” writes Nick Durden in The Independent, referring to Burgess’s wilder years as frontman of the nineties Britpop band, The Charlatans.
Instead the singer, whose autobiography, Telling Stories, has just been published (by Penguin), comes across as youthful and ‘breezy charm personified’, as he describes the ups and downs of the rock ‘n’ roll years and how he has more recently maintained a healthier lifestyle through good diet, yoga and Transcendental Meditation.
The Charlatans were born out of the creative Manchester music scene in the heady ecstasy years. Success came quickly with “The Only One I Know” which went to number one in 1990, their first of three chart toppers. By 2006 they’d recorded nine albums but the years of hard drug use were taking their toll.
“I took cocaine every day for a decade,” Burgess says in an interview with Metro. “I would drink at any time of the day – vodka for breakfast – and fall asleep with a bottle of wine next to me on the floor … I was really out of shape and I couldn’t sing in rehearsals. I couldn’t get it together.”
The turning point was in 2006 when a doctor told him he was facing permanent damage to his health.
“I went all out, quitting drugs, and drink, and cigarettes. It was difficult, but I’ve got to say I’ve never missed them, not once, not at all.”
“I went on a 21-day detox and I still haven’t come off it, five years later. I drink shakes made of spirulina and avoid eating anything unhealthy. … After the detox, I became the complete opposite of what I was like before – but just as committed,” he tells Metro.
He first heard about Transcendental Meditation at this time. “I was at a party drinking Diet Coke and a friend said I looked bored. I wasn’t, I was having a great time, but she said I should try Transcendental Meditation. The words went into my ear like honey. I don’t know why, but I knew she was right. “
“I looked into it,” he tells The Independent, “read up on [founder] Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and also the David Lynch Foundation [which teaches TM across America], and it just all made sense. I meditate for 20 minutes twice a day now. It’s part of my life.”
He tells Lucy Jones of the Telegraph, “I tend to work instead of relaxing in the evenings. Morning and night, I do yoga and Transcendental Meditation. I’m a bit flaky with yoga but I haven’t missed a TM session in four years. It gives me 20 minutes to myself. It also makes me feel like I’m in another place, even though I’m very conscious.”
Asked why he finds it useful, he replies, “At the minimum it de-stresses you. You get thoughts – it’s not psychedelic – but things pop into your brain. John Lennon used to stop and write his ideas down; I choose not to. I’m enjoying myself so much I don’t want to stop.”
Tim Burgess now lives in north London, where he runs a record label, O Genesis. Despite many personal setbacks, The Charlatans are still together and will be touring in June.