13th September 2012 by Jon Brookes
Hi everyone just like to give a heartfelt thanks to you all for making the Tellin’ Stories shows so memorable and for letting us indulge in some retrospective B-side action.
We always have a good debate about what will make up a set but we all knew Clean Up Kid and Title Fight were going to be in there somewhere pushing our on stage time up to an unheard of time of two hours!!
It has to be said that although Some Friendly feels a long time ago, whilst we worked through the songs (for the anniversary shows) we tried to rescue some of the dynamics back from the people we used to be whilst we brought the debut number 1 back to life. Tellin’ Stories was a different trip, its euphoric celebratory and triumphant sentiment is met by driving rhythms and expressive and soulful keyboard and guitar combinations all added to by the inclusion of Tom Chemical and Richard March and Dave Charles alongside us at the mixing console. We made this our last record in South Wales with the help of Martin Duffy on keyboards at our then second home Monnow Valley.
The only tune we couldn’t recreate was Rob and Rik Pete’s late night chill out ‘Rob’s Theme’. We left the stage for Rob to have the room to himself, listening as his late night experiments drifted back to us whilst we cooled off and got ready to take the night up a notch.
The record was a musical landmark for us and helped define a spike in British rock music upon its release in 1997. It is an amazing record finished under the most difficult of circumstances. Much has been written about the chaos and camaraderie during its creation and we have all made some candid remarks both during its number 1 debut (our third to reach the top spot) and more recently by Tim in his memoir.
The last word is currently being edited together as a documentary about the bands story whilst making Tellin’ Stories. We hopefully will bring together the truth about what was to be a turning point for the band as we were forced to regroup and decide our future before moving on.
The chance to put it altogether and stand in front of sell out audiences in some of our favourite venues was truly an honour. The albums euphoric tone reverberated once more for the benefit of what looked like a really splendid mix of people, we were thrilled by the reaction and knew this is as good as it gets. We also had lots of festivals to be enjoyed despite the now official news that this was the wettest year ever! No surprise to anyone we saw out there this summer. We had many interesting experiences too, including cocktails at a stately home at the Magic Loungeabout and a ghost tour at Castlepalooza in deepest Ireland. I also had the collective panic of an aborted take off in Frankfurt when one of our engines went bang, resulting in a fire crew spraying foam into the now smoking engine pod! I’ve never been that worried about flying but the whole thing was made worst with the flight diverted to Heathrow and subsequent bus trip refused entry to Birmingham airport (my final destination), denied on the grounds of security risk!
So onto the future and after a short band meeting backstage at Bingley we gingerly entered into a verbal commitment to make another record, this is, as you now know, some time away. We all have other interesting projects we’ll be working on and hope to go into the studio next year, as if it was the first time again!!
Many thanks again for all of you who came and supported us, and for the people who have our best interests at heart who work with us!
10th June 2012
Thanks to everyone who came to the Tellin' Stories gigs in Manchester, London & Glasgow. See you at the festivals.
30th December 2011 by Jon Brookes
Hello everyone. It's been a while since we got any new information out to you, we wanted to wait until we had something worthwhile to share. In the tweet mad world I fancied a few more characters to fill you in rather than trying to condense some or all of The Charlatans news related items into bite size chunks…
Firstly let me say a big thank you to all the people that stayed out in all weathers and temperatures to watch us appear at some of the late summer festivals we did. The smaller festival vibe has caught on with a whole cross section of society. A long weekend in a field with bands and other families has replaced the weekend at Butlins as a holiday or the B&B by the seaside for some of us. As the numbers have shown that this year’s festival attendances were the highest on record!
The band, as you might know, are in a very fortunate position of having our own studio at our disposal, along with the space to store our gear and the room for people to stay over. The recent acquisition of a new recording system is now ready to begin paying its way as we begin to start making arrangements for demo sessions to begin forging a new album and bringing together ideas which have been dreamt up over the early winter season and earlier as some of the guys are habitual music makers. We always have something on the back burner waiting to boil over and offer a new direction and I personally can’t wait to start and get back behind my drum set!
I’d like to say how excited we are to be playing the recently announced shows in the summer, we remembered fondly the great time we had rehearsing and the subsequent performances celebrating the ‘Some Friendly’ album. The idea was put to us to treat and approach the 15th year anniversary of ‘Tellin Stories’ in much the same way. We’ll be locked away working on songs not only from the album but also from that time period. The UK music scene was awash with activity and the TFI generation had a show and a movement to identify with. The songs already have a lasting memory and gravitas for the band as we saw balance disrupted and restored after the exit of Rob and the arrival of Tony!
The recent John Peel lectures hosted by 6 Music were recorded at the new BBC Media City in Salford, Manchester. The glass and steel construction of the whole massive site looked like an angular Eden project illuminated by neon lighting reflecting atmospherically against the body of water, which I presume was the Salford Quay ship canal? I felt it had a sense of isolation from the normal city population. Signs of life had disappeared at 5.30pm with only BBC staff to be found, who were locked away behind the shiny structures many barriers…
The focus on John Peel being a man of the people housed in such an environment is ironic and the notion that a expectant band hanging around waiting to meet the incumbent “Peelly’ type DJ to hand over their demo is lost as the security presence would render such a meeting impossible.
I did however manage to blag a ticket and strolled across a vacant Media City! Crossing a impressive industrial - type designed bridge, passing a now closed(!) mass-market American coffee shop, to enter the Lowry theatre building, which was the venue where Pete Townsend would deliver the maiden speech in memory of the great John Peel. Who incidently gave us our first glimpse inside the BBC when we were asked to record a session for him in London’s Maida Vale some twenty years ago now.
Pete was giving his considered opinion on the nature of digital music and all that it entails, brings, and distorts onto the industry that he has given so much. I remember his point about the fact that iTunes has an incredible number of songs which sit on the cloud never to be heard or noticed or listened to by anyone in an “critique listening capacity” at iTunes. I shared his frustration that some great songs will remain lost in the vault forever. He went on to draw an great analogy citing “John’s ears” as being the first filter for the public and that every tune he ever played would be listened to by him first, then and then only would he include it into his show unlike the digital unmanned superstore, “why can’t iTunes have a body of people to listen and offer opinions about music” pleaded Pete… Pete also made a humorous swipe at the ‘Genius’ mode on iTunes saying it also recommends the late 60’s novelty group Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich when The Who are searched…!
Thanks again for coming out to see us and for helping to make all our concerts and festivals great gatherings and events for the band and audience alike. I’d like to wish you all the very best for the coming year and beyond,
Cheers to Jazz, Tim, Bethan and welcome home to Cat!!
9th May 2011 by Jon Brookes
‘A Great Place to Leave’ is a fitting title to a track that was to sum up musically the leap the band made when recording Us and Us Only at Big Mushroom… The place left behind was South Wales and the ghosts and wrecked lives of the previous album were to be left undisturbed as we built a new studio from scratch in Cheshire. The sound of that track twisting and turning was typical of the reinvention going on at the time. As Tony began to demonstrate an ability to write great songs and take up some of the production of the record. I hope that the extra insight and new tunes have gone down well (with the release of the Deluxe Edition of Us and Us Only). We have always had a few songs left over with most albums and try not to indulge ourselves too much when picking the running order, always leaving an open opportunity for this exercise.
Another release to mention is the Warm Sounds EP, this is a culmination and journey's end (at least for now) of a tradition which has been part of The Charlatans for many years - the conversion of tracks to acoustic versions. In this case the influences are bright and bold and the laid back pace sets new tones for the lyrics. Mark’s fantastic reinvention around he’s love of the acoustic guitar, rhythmically it is a straight ride down the line. The recent shows with Tim and Mark, and some friends, have seen the record come to life and the small tour played to a eclectic choice of venues.
We are all turning our attention to summer festivals with so many variations of the mighty rock festival to choose from it’s a busy few months ahead as we take in varied countries from Greece to Turkey, Sweden to Cyprus, stopping off back home for headline appearances at Friends of Mine, Wychwood and The Big Feastival. There is a desire to look to the future once more and soon there will be talk of a possible return to our beloved and now slightly ramshackle and tired looking studio. The feeling is that after some cosmetic and technical renovations (i.e. new paint and a new Mac!) some of us may be going in to work on new music and a direction for a future release. What and when is some time away but the will is to remain creative and hungry for new musical output.
Thanks to everyone who has been enquiring about my health these days. I have been receiving the best care possible and remain under observation undertaking chemotherapy at regular intervals. This is in tablet form and has little side effects. I am feeling stronger and healthier than several months ago and continue to feel positive about my future and that of The Charlatans. In fact I seem to be busy with other projects outside the normal group activity, which is all contributing to my current state of well-being.
Thanks to Jaz, Tim and Bethan for keeping us on track, Warren for keeping us on the road and to Cat for keeping us in touch.
To all of you enjoy summer!
No sleep till Birmingham!!
24th October 2010 by Jon
Hi to everyone who is checking out The Charlatans website and these blogs written for entertainment, information and the odd shock horror story, which comes our way!
The tour has just finished winding its way around the UK and turning the corner for the last leg, calling at the stately surroundings of Brixton Academy and a debut at the newly created Birmingham Academy. This will be the last gig of the UK tour, and it will then be a time for us to turn our attention to Europe and the southern hemisphere including Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. As you know I won’t be doing much travelling this side of Christmas, but more on this later.
I decided to venue north and check The Charlatans out at the Apollo, always a great gig for us and I’ve had many a memorable night there. I must say that I have always wanted to check out the band from the other side of the fence, but didn’t envisage such a radical way of obtaining the ringside seat, but was really happy to be a small part of the touring party for the day. I have really missed the vibe and comradery and was touched and moved to see all my colleagues looking so well and a little tired!! It is all part and parcel of the touring life of our band so this was a big deal for me to get back to it ASAP. I got to Manchester in time for the sound check and was met by Chris and James (our tour manager and security respectively), and also Pete Salisbury, who as you know has come to our rescue and taken over the drumming duties for the remainder of the year.
Pete is perfect for The Charlatans - he is a cool dude who has been around the block with The Verve many times, so this is a great gig for Pete and it really came across that the vibe was good. I was knocked out at hearing those songs sounding so good over a huge PA system. Pete plays with style and feel, and I was happy to watch the band walk out to a great reception that night, and play a great set.
I even managed to join the crowd and watched ‘Your Pure Soul’ and ‘Tellin’ Stories’ (which Tim very kindly dedicated to me!) Both songs sounded great, and I couldn’t help feeling part of the bigger picture for a moment, as I briefly and willingly became part of the audience. As the set wound its way to Sproston Green I became overwhelmed to join in again and asked James to let me watch from the balcony. Another profound moment as the sound became louder and the gig sweatier. I have a new perspective from now on and can see what it is that we do, and in some small way understand why we have had the most incredible support for twenty years. I finished the evening by saying a few words of gratitude to the Apollo and then an early night thinking about Birmingham and a new challenge.
As the last night of the UK tour Martin and I had decided to throw a party at the Sound Bar in Birmingham, a place I know well. As things for me have turned out a little differently recently, the idea had to be re-thought but I was determined to take part in the evening on some level. I have been doing well physically with my various treatments and I asked the band to let me come on and do the last tune of the evening. Luckily the answer was positive and I set about getting my head around getting back behind a drum kit since Philly. The news got out to the BBC who sent Ben Sidwell over to do a BBC Midlands Today news article about the Academy gig and end of tour show.
The day soon arrived and I got up as normal with pre gig butterflies and went to sound check to get myself in the groove. As per as normal everyone was cool and I waited backstage listening to the songs counting down to my turn….
A huge feeling of goodwill came head on towards me as over 2000 Charlatans fans let me know that I was welcome back on stage. I took the deepest breath and tried to let it flow. I hope it sounded OK, but to be honest I have no real measure, it was like I would imagine doing the 100 metres in the Olympic games would feel like!! But please let me say thanks again to the Academy crowd for a top night!!
The evening did finish rather late at the aforementioned Sound Bar, with a night of live music by Velvet Texas Cannonball and The Uppers. I was feeling really good after my brief live appearance at the Academy and enjoyed speaking to so many people who were out for a good night. I DJ’ed all night with the help of Martin, then Deb and I managed to get back to my hotel just before dawn and fell into a deep sleep. As for my health I’d like to say that I’m feeling strong and positive and have received amazing support from friends and family, doctors and medical specialists.
I’d particularly like to acknowledge the guidance, support and belief from Jazz, Tim and Bethan of Big Life Management who have given me the confidence to remain focused on my health issues whilst they take care of the Band and its direction. And of course appreciation to all members of The Charlatans who have remained stead fast and focused to finishing this world tour, and to our road crew who have kept the gigs running like clockwork. Looking forward to speaking again real soon. Thanks to Cat for keeping us all in touch!!
JON BROOKES ON THE HEALING ROAD!!!
Philly Del Fear, 30th September 2010 by Jon
As I start this blog I have the most curious desire to have a mischievous swipe at time. Life, destiny, fate and the odds of life giving you a double dose of diabolical luck.
But the only thing I can think of is the need to foster and nurture the future, surround it and protect it with all the good stuff we carry in the way of excess mental baggage.
Juxtaposition is not a word which is easily squeezed into life’s patchwork of possibilities, but as I sit in the middle of the mother of all seesaws I have the darkest blackest hole tempting me into its featureless perpetual void, where no sounds come and no souls stir. A place of my minds creation, which lives off its own power source. An energy farm of fear, a place that is bursting with confused thoughts and random outpourings of negative misleading ideas. A tricky place to navigate at the best of times but to be cast into its depths weakened and disabled and confused is not a choice I am willing undertake. I believe evolution has granted me mental freewill and I edge towards the light and my own truth!!!
When I first saw those strange lights in the corner of my eyes at the start of the set in Philadelphia little was I to know that the brain tumour several centimetres across was starting to emit it´s electrical impulses across the bottom halve of the right hand side of my brain… and after asking for sound levels to be lowered on stage I continued to play the set, but was already hopelessly out of time and disorientated and on a different song from the set list and rest of the band, the count down to disorder had begun. Strange feelings of floating quickly replaced by violent head movements engulfed me. Then I was approached by strangely familiar faces asking me what was wrong but, I couldn’t speak, my mouth wired tight by lockjaw and panic spreading across my frozen body, the first seizure had begun and was in full affect.
Time and it´s measurement in drum beats and rhythms and my ability to manoeuvre it/them relative to melody and a musical pre-determined arrangement have been my life’s work. I have also compulsively and deliberately played every concert like its my last, but as this night came crashing down around me I felt a stillness in the room like never before, a visitor in my own world… my memory is patchy but I can still hear the screams of my own voice echoing out as I felt hands struggle to hold me still as I was attended to by friends and paramedics alike. The blessing is that I don’t have enough recollection to be totally freaked out by the first seizure/event. And I can only feel sorry for my dear friends who had to witness such a painful display.
I was eventually brought under control and went to the nearest hospital where it was quickly discovered that another seizure was imminent and a neurological centre was the only option. It is now that I can fill in the later stages of that night, I was never frightened or concerned about my fate in as much as I knew death was not in attendance at any point I saw no flash backs and had strong feelings of being amongst special caring people. They had a beautiful and serine calm which washed over me as I began to answer their questions and let myself be submitted to their scientific tests which seemed to involve me lying on moving platforms then entering giant polo mints…whilst offering up my arms to be pricked and probed for blood and vital signs.
The blessed relief came early on the morning of the 16th when morphine was introduced to my bloodstream to ease the muscle cramps and tears and strains of the previous nights violent struggle. At last I had time to stop and listen to my own heartbeat and the pulse that throbbed in my temple, and to grow accustomed to the hospital clothing with its random gaping, unfasten able trap doors!
The hospital was a 16-floor university campus, specialising in neuro-medicine. And I found myself attending lecture theatres filled with new students eager to investigate the new patient. It was at this point I had the first of several amazing epiphanies.
I began to realise the absolute interdependence of shared knowledge and the pure brilliance of energies exchanged in order to investigate the chaos which to most of us is unfathomable in such alien environments and medical situations. I had become besieged with messages of good will from every direction, family, fans, friends, colleagues, strangers, hospital co-workers and nurses. Baskets of fruit began to appear, comfortable clothing was hastily packed into empty bedside tables all sent with love and concern. I knew that I was not alone and at the foot of my bed, my fellow band members and road crew sat looking at me with disbelief and sly grins from time to time, I began to feel life was still within my grasp and thought about the option given to me by Joseph V.Queenan, MD ’head of neuro surgery’ Hahnemann University Hospital, Philadelphia …”we have located the tumour Mrs Brookes and are ready to take it out”.
I knew cancer was the main diagnoses but still had to undergo a spinal tap to dismiss any other type of absyss…my feelings were given over to the logistics of the immediate surgery, I had to have my wife and kids with me in the States for the post opp’ after treatment of chemotherapy and radiology. I decided to make the journey home…not knowing who would help me when I stepped of the plane, I became over run with doubt and confusion… I travelled home heavily sedated with Tony Rogers and a Dr to escort me in case of more seizures.
I want to try and explain to anyone who is interested, the amazing power of ‘positive thought’ and love and light, which can be transmitted across vast amounts of time and space by everyone who wishes to try. I began to feel a portal open up inside my soul, and a feeling of wellbeing charge through me, reaching a pinnacle of absolute meltdown and relief when I received a phone call from my dear friend Ian Palmer telling me that Professor ‘Garth Cruickshank’ had been made aware of my situation and arranged to have me delivered to his operating theatre…in the UK to remove the tumour from my brain.
I know that who we touch are touched indeed, and I will never be able to express my heartfelt thanks for all the love and light I received, from all of you who text me, sent me cards, made calls to me or passed on their support and best wishes that ultimately brought me back home, safe!
I have the best chance of rebuilding my life now and will always have one eye on the lookout for those strange lights! But knowing that love is the key and I wouldn’t be here without it… It is with the deepest thanks I can express that I will hopefully be back to my old self and be returned to full heath with the ongoing treatment I am to receive.
The Charlatans will continue to appear on stage and will be able to continue the promotion of the latest studio recording Who We Touch...
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