If you haven’t heard of Tim Peaks Diner, where’ve you been? The brainchild of The Charlatans’ frontman TIM BURGESS, its origins lie in a serendipitous tale of a tweet getting out of hand and a music community coming together. A café, hangout and stage, Tim Peaks Diner hosts secret sets, DJ sets, high-profile talks and special guests, along with some of the best brews of the caffeinated kind you’ll find at any festival. We chatted with Tim Burgess – the man behind the pun – about his dream line-up, The Charlatans’ new album and his vinyl odyssey.
By now, Tim Peaks Diner will be a concept familiar to lots of festivalgoers – how did the idea first come about?
It started with a tweet about seven years ago. I was told that I should be on Twitter but I didn’t know what it was all about. I tweeted about music or whatever but it went berserk when I tweeted, ‘Anyone fancy a coffee?’ The whole thing came from that tweet. Metaphorical and metaphysical at first, and then it became real. We only take it to the best festivals, of course.
What would your dream Tim Peaks Diner line-up be?
We’ve had some pretty amazing line-ups so far. Edwyn Collins and Roddy Frame played and asked me to form a bit of a supergroup with them, and Suzanne Vega stopped by and loved it so much she played twice in two days. Last year, Pete Doherty said he’d play an unannounced set – we thought he’d just bring a guitar but he brought a five-piece band. Sleaford Mods played just before they got big – it was worth it to see the looks on the audiences’ faces; they were totally overawed! Apart from the couple who walked out shaking their heads. My dream line-up? A secret set from The Rolling Stones would be good, Grimes on before them and Ariel Pink to start things off.
Are there any new artists that you’re really excited about at the moment?
We always love new music – Blossoms played a few times on their rise to the top. We always have an eye on new bands. I just heard The Blinders, who sound great, Daniel O’Sullivan is really worth checking out, and there’s a US band called King who I can’t stop listening to.
Your own 13th studio album, Different Days, comes out just before the festival. How do you strike the balance between retaining your identity as a band, but still producing something new?
We don’t get bogged down with any expectations or anything from the past. We just start writing songs and see where they take us. We invited some friends over, so they helped shape the album – Johnny Marr plays guitar on three songs and he’s someone where you have to let him loose to do his own thing, which can take a song in another direction. [It’s] similar with Stephen Morris from New Order and Joy Division; he’s on seven of the songs. And if you add Ian Rankin, Sharon Horgan and Anton Newcombe, it means the songs really get their own identity without too much time to look back at how they fit in with our back catalogue
On the subject of collaborations, in your recent book Tim Book Two you embark on a vinyl odyssey, hunting down records across the globe as recommended by people you admire. It’s a wonderful idea – how did it come about?
I’d written a book for Penguin but that was an autobiography so a follow-up book had to be something different. Faber and Faber asked if I had any ideas – I said, ‘I could call it Tim Book Two’ and it went from there. It fell into place that it would have to be about records as they are a passion for me and my friends, so I sent a few texts and it went from there.
In a world of instant access and internet recommendations, it’s refreshing to hear of someone discovering something through word of mouth. How has that process of discovery, both of music and of place, informed your life and work since?
I was recommended some records that are in my top 20 favourite albums of all time – one record in particular that I had never even heard of before. It was an album by Sibylle Baier that was recommended by Kim Gordon. It was fantastic to find out what people like Iggy Pop and Bill Drummond would recommend as albums for people to hear – it was brilliant fun to do and we ended up doing a tour with the book and our own pop-up record shop, Vinyl Adventures. The next book will be called One, Two, Another.
You and Charlatans guitarist Mark Collins will be performing as part of Sound City too – what can we expect from your set? Any surprises in store?
Mark and I have toured a few times together, just me and him. It means people get to hear Charlatans songs in a slightly different way, or ones that we haven’t played so much as a full band. We have a new album out two days before so we might play a couple of those. As for surprises, they’d no longer be surprises if I told you!
Tim Burgess will be In Conversation and will perform with Charlatans guitarist Mark Collins at Tim Peaks Diner on Sunday 28th May. The whole band will also be signing copies of The Charlatans’ latest album, Different Days.