THE Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess was once known for his daily intake of illegal substances.
So when he started talking a mile a minute in our phone interview, the first thought was he might be back on the bad stuff.
But those days are now far behind him.
Twice-daily sessions of Transcendental Meditation, a baby, a fistful of music projects – including his own record label O Genesis – and his new Tim Peaks virtual coffee shop are all keeping him busy.
A little bit of research reveals that it may well be the caffeine highs of his new pop-up coffee project – a hit at a host of summer festivals – that are behind that energised voice.
The death of The Charlatans’ drummer Jon Brookes recently saddened the band and fans and had the national press harping on again about that “unlucky” band, to Tim’s tweeted despair.
But like his latest bleached blond hairstyle – somewhere between Bond villain Javier Bardem and the late Stone Brian Jones – there’s always something new to express, usually in music.
On the brink of his arrival in the Highlands on a tour to promote his solo album Oh No I Love You, Tim sounded upbeat.
He recalled earlier dates at the Ironworks with The Charlatans – one tour beginning and ending at the venue.
“This time it’s a completely different thing,” said Tim.
“It’s kind of like solo, but with a band – but not The Charlatans – though we’ve been known to do a couple of Charlatans tracks. There’s an acousticy version of The Only One I Know. But not acoustic as in a troubadour – you can see it on YouTube anyway,” he laughed.
Oh No I Love You – recorded in Nashville with Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner and a host of veteran musicians – came out last year – and it will be making up the bulk of the set next Thursday.
“We’ll be playing the whole of that album – and we’ll probably be wearing Hawaiian shirts too, so we’ll be bringing a bit of Hawaii to Inverness,” laughed Tim.
“It’s a very slow album, a very brooding kind of album and I have no idea what people will make of it.”
The remix tribute Oh No I Love You More out earlier this year sees various bands doing their take on the original tracks, including Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Horrors and Django Django.
But for a man whose musical tastes are the widest, Oh No I Love You is just the latest phase in an eclectic musical life.
It was co-written with Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner, though the seeds of the album were sown 10 years earlier when Tim met him after one of the band’s shows in Manchester.
Tim explained after the release of the album last autumn: “I carried Kurt’s guitar to the car for him. I took the chance to ask him if he would ever consider writing a song with me.
“He said ‘Sure Tim, you write the music and I’ll write the words’.”
Nashville recording took Tim out of his comfort zone but he found it exhilarating.
“I wanted to make a record that was me, with all the information that I had at my age on my shoulders and in my head,” he said at the time.
Tim looks back on the experience now: “He wanted me to add music, but he wrote the words. I’ve never let anyone have that amount of word control, but I really enjoyed it.”
Besides, Tim was getting more than enough of his own word control writing his witty, genre-busting rock memoirs Telling Stories.
Presented in short chapters and mainlining on Tim’s humour and insight, it’s an entertaining read for Charlatans fan – and casual reader.
On show is Tim’s dry humour, incredible memory for detail and talent for description, such as The Fall’s Mark E Smith “between Rigsby and Gollum”.
“I think there are more stories to come – at the moment it’s to be called Tim Book Two,” he revealed.
Telling Stories also has a notoriously frank description of some of the more unusual ways The Charlatans enjoyed their drugs, as in the chapter called Cocainus.
Tim said: “When I came up with it, part of my brain said ‘Don’t put that in’.
“I passed it on to two friends hoping they would say ‘You can’t put that in!’ but when I said ‘It’s not going in is it?’ they said ‘You’re joking – course it is! That bit’s a hit!’
“I’m doing a tour of Travelodges at the moment – that makes me sound like Alan Partridge, don’t put that in” he laughed. “No keep it in – I think A Tour Of Travelodges could be a chapter in the next book!”
Tim Burgess and his band will play the Ironworks, Inverness, tomorrow (Thursday) with support from Velveteen Saints, Hatcham Social and Mark Morriss, formerly of the Bluetones. For a review of Tim’s book, Telling Stories, go online and head for whats-on books