Written by Trey Taylor
Posted 11/06/2013
You don't really know a bowl cut until you've seen the hair of Tim Burgess and on the day District MTV headed to meet the Charlatans frontman to talk solo projects, he is fittingly having his 'do' refreshed. The East London salon that will be the meeting point also, fittingly, shares its door with that of legendary record shop Rough Trade, where you'll find Tim's work sandwiched between other iconic rock 'n' roll heavyweights. All very fitting indeed.

In the hairdressers, Tim slides over, concealed under a beanie and aqua-tinted glasses, and with a proud smirk declares he's just had a baby. He's been coming to see this particular stylist, Paris, for two years. When I ask if he trusts her with his tresses, he says, "It's a boy". At forty-six, the former frontman of Mancunian mod rock band The Charlatans looks as youthful as he did in his Tellin' Stories days of the late '90s. Today, he's just released a follow up remix LP to 2012's Oh No I Love You titled Oh No I Love You More, which paraphrases the original songs, keeping the twangy indie rock intact with injections of flavour from Django Django, Factory Floor and even Asia Argento.

For Oh No I Love You, Burgess tapped mentor and friend, Kurt Wagner of Lambchop. Together they wrote the songs for the album over a two-week period in Nashville. "I would send an mp3 to Kurt, who was living just like two or three blocks down the road," Burgess recalls. Meeting over coffee each morning, they quickly penned six songs in a matter of weeks. Previously, when it came to the studio session, "someone always lost it a little bit or someone got delusional." But those days are over for Burgess. "The crazy times – I need to put those behind me a little bit," he explains. By September last year, with ten songs in tow, they were ready to record.

Instead of closing the door on the finished album, Burgess heard the Jamie xx/Gil-Scott Heron collaboration and recruited a motley crew to proffer his own take. "I was really inspired by Jamie xx. I thought that was such an interesting idea." He enlisted Sam Willis of Walls to do a remix of a track early on and was so pleased with the result he gave him the reigns to polish off the whole album. "But, fortunately, he could only do one [track], so I had to think of other people I'd like to collaborate with. It just kind of escalated and got crazier and crazier."

All this noise somehow reached the ears of Asia Argento. The Italian polymath, best known for appearances in films xXx and Land of the Dead, planted her sultry whispers on the track 'Hours/Ours'. "She's just incredible," says Burgess. Argento took her role in stride, and couldn't quit after such a light imprint. She took it upon herself to create a visual accompaniment. "She's just like, 'Send me the stuff! I want it now. I'm doing a video and you're gonna be in it.' I said, 'I just can't be in it right now.' And she said, 'Okay, well I'm gonna do it and I'm gonna be in it then.' So I was like, 'Go ahead.'" The result? "It's very her, you know? I like her anyway. I would want her to be her. And she probably wouldn't be anybody else anyway."

Tim Burgess wholly understands the headstrong reluctance to be anybody else. As lead singer for The Charlatans, he was notorious for snappy, off the cuff quotes like, "What we are into, basically, is non-league football and left-wing anarchism." His punchbowl 'do and baggy trousers were an idiosyncratic signature, while his take-no-prisoners attitude played a starring role in the band's meteoric rise and gaining them a cult following. However there were a few dicey moments, and I question whether he's still friendly with former manager, Steve Harrison. "Well no, we're not. I wrote something in my book Tellin' Stories that he took offence to and he successfully sued me. I said he was bankrupt and apparently he wasn't. But he told us he was."

Contrary to his laid back appearance, Tim Burgess never rests (save for a two-a-day session of transcendental meditation). He's just got both an LP and a baby out and has a confirmed ten-day UK tour in the works with more dates TBC. His passion for music is just as evident as his need for a trim. Turning to speak to Paris the hairdresser he says, "I'll just be getting trimmed up a little bit so I don't have to wear a hat all the time. I've brought a picture. Of myself," he jokes, showing me the reference photo of his earlier self before we part ways.

Oh No I Love You More is out now and new single The Economy is out 24 June on OGenesis Records.

Tim Burgess and Lambchop perform at The Barbican, London on 23 June. Tickets available now