Tim Burgess has a secret — he relishes traveling almost as much as he enjoys making music. And seeing as how he’s the lead vocalist of The Charlatans, a chart-topping English rock band that just released its 13th studio album, Different Days, that’s saying an awful lot.
But chat with the 50-year-old artist for a few minutes and he’ll offer hints about this love for getting away. He’s passionate about collecting vinyl and preserving small venues, sure, but when he speaks of people and places, you can almost see him perk up over the phone.
And when you inquire about the most exciting aspects of recording a new CD, the Salford native matter-of-factly says, “It gets us to go on tour now and get on our adventures again.”
In between talking about said adventures with us, Burgess also reveals his jet-lag-fighting tips, his must-pack items for the road and the bucket-list travel destinations he’d like to visit whenever he puts the microphone down.
What keeps you motivated after 13 projects?
I think being always in tune with life. I’m always looking out for new sounds. I get inspired by just living life, my travel and by meeting other people. It’s an outlet and people want to hear the results of what I record.
You’re a strong advocate for independent venues. Why are the smaller clubs so important to you?
Because that’s where all bands start out. They don’t just go straight into 2,000-seat halls. They have to start somewhere that holds, maybe, 100 people.
The industry has a habit of getting rid of those venues. The world has a tendency to get rid of those buildings and replace them with other buildings. I just want to stand up for the little guy.
When you’re heading off on these journeys, what are a few essentials that you always pack?
I travel a lot. I have an iPod. I don’t know if they even make them any more. They hold so many songs. I have, maybe, 20,000 songs or something crazy. Even though they’re quite heavy, I’ve got a laptop as well as an iPhone. Those are essential.
I can buy clothes anywhere. So, if I forget clothes, I like to go shopping in the city that I arrive in.
With all of your international travel, how do you best combat jet lag?
I hate jet lag. I’m a meditator. I normally meditate twice a day — 6 in the evening and 9 in the morning. I just try to do that as much as possible when I’m traveling. It really does rejuvenate.
So, I meditate, drink lots of water or drink lots of coffee. I think I do better than my bandmates, who drink a lot of wine. They swear by that as well, but I think my way works better.
When you see the tour schedule, which dates do you have circled?
I absolutely love Los Angeles. I lived there for 12 years in Hollywood. I don’t feel like I should be living there at this moment in time, but I’d love to go back and get the sunshine.
What is it about L.A. that you love so much?
The weather and the space. I actually like the people. It’s a way of life, really. It’s just a wonderful place.
I live on the outskirts of London. For five or six months a year, it’s just so dark. I always think it’s nighttime. And I live out in the wilderness. I live in the woods.
What I miss about Los Angeles, really, is just how light it is at nighttime. It just makes you feel alive all the time.
Where exactly do you live outside of London?
I’m in a place called Norfolk. It’s an hour away from London. It’s by the coast, on the East side of England. It’s beachy, but it’s also very woodsy.
Beyond the woods and seclusion, what separates where you are from the big city?
It’s more agricultural. The people are very different, a lot more laid back. The city of London is very, very fast-paced.
I love London but, at this point in my life, I’m kind of choosing it as a destination that I just go and visit. I get there twice a week. I go to the city and I come home — it keeps me rejuvenated.
I’ve got a four-year-old son and we play in the outdoors. And he likes the beach and all that. It’s good for him.
For the Forbes Travel Guide reader who’s on his way to London, what are a few not-so-obvious attractions that he should not miss?
I always stay at a hotel called The Stafford, and it’s right next to Buckingham Palace. It’s at Green Park, and it’s actually quite an underrated park that’s 200 yards from Buckingham Palace. That’s a great hotel and location.
I actually like East London and Spitalfields Market. It’s near Liverpool Street station.
Another place I’m thinking of that will be a good place for people to go is The Clove Club. It’s a nice place to eat. It was crowd-funded, but it’s got Michelin stars and it’s one of the best restaurants in London.
I know you travel a lot with the band and during your personal time. Can you name a few places you haven’t gone that are on your dream list?
I’ve never been to Portugal. I’ve never been to Cuba. Maybe Africa? Why not? It’s just always been off-radar for us, really, as a traveling band. But even if the band doesn’t go there, I should go there myself.