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The Book, the Label Chief, His Life and Some Covers

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Hi. Come in, you came just at the right time. It's four days until the publication of the book I just spent the last year writing. I'll not use the first paragraph of my first blog as a shameless plug for it, Penguin who are publishing it might thank me and, indeed, the sales of Telling Stories, the book in question might increase. Amazon and all good book stores might be able to trace a spike in sales, back to this blog - but I'm just not that kind of person. No, you keep your £12.99 and we'll talk about something else

At the same time as starting the book another plan kind of came together. I'd been originally asked to write something by Penguin three years ago and spent the first two years telling them that it was coming along swimmingly. I could only keep that up for so long without actually sending anything to them, so I only had myself to blame.

Over the previous two years I'd produced a couple of bands - we'd toiled hard to get the best out of the songs and the studio as we could, for the whole thing to then be passed on. I'd record bands who I loved and then people I didn't love but who pretended to love us, would put them out. Badly. They'd blame everything but not take a look at themselves. I got fed up and thought we should do it ourselves. And if we got it wrong, we'd shoulder the blame.

I'm no control freak but I didn't really like just handing it all over and the ideas behind the music getting diluted until it seemed like something where I'd just been part of a big process.

I'd been making my thoughts known to a few friends and in a flurry of emails, ideas, late nights and giddy phone calls, four of us (Nik Colk Void, Nick Fraser, Jim Spencer and I) were the slightly bewildered owners of a shiny new record label - O Genesis. We all just knew of labels we loved from Small Wonder to Factory and Stiff. I just wanted to see the process through. From first hearing a band to being able to see the finished record in a shop. And anyway the meetings were amazing. We'd make plans, share ideas and get totally distracted - it lead to us inventing breakfast cereals, re-designing the periodic table and selling prints and listening to Serge Gainsbourg and drinking coffee till our minds melted.

So it was a year of charging forwards while glancing backwards. My own first faltering steps in music were on my mind as we recorded a brilliant 19-year-old singer songwriter by the name of Joseph Coward. Amazing and strange and uplifting times. I imagined Joseph as the 22 year old me, with me in at the desk playing Chris Nagle who was producing our first album 22 years ago.

The chapters mounted up as did the O Genesis releases - the book went from being sketches of ideas to something Penguin were not only accepting, but seemingly actually getting excited about. We found our feet with the label - the singles picked up some radio play and we'd notice namechecks in magazines and people would tweet pictures of their newly acquired O Genesis sevens.

I went over to Nashville about six months into all of this to make a solo album. I'd been writing it with Kurt Wagner for, well, maybe that same six months before and it was time to get something recorded. Kurt had recorded much of his Lambchop output with Mark Nevers at The Beech House, so that's where I headed. Ten days later and I had a new solo album, the memories of working with members of not only Lambchop but My Morning Jacket and Clem Snide too.

One of the tracks we had recorded was not running as smoothly as the others - a song called The Doors of Then. We'd tried it with a full band, stripped back and every which way. Apart from recording the album, the only other thing I'd wanted to do was meet up with R. Stevie Moore. I'd first heard his songs around five years ago and had spent most of the intervening time trying to listen to as many of the 400 albums that he'd made as possible. Me met over a takeout pizza and we got on like a trailer park on fire. I told him about The Doors of Then and the next day we recorded it with R. Stevie playing everything except the drums. It sounded exactly as I'd wanted it to.

R Stevie loved the sound of O Genesis and I was breathless when he asked if I'd compile a best of.. for him. So for the last five months I've been doing just that.

Lo Fi High Fives...A Kind of Best of will be out in the Summer. We released Pop Music, the first single R. Stevie had ever had out with the UK. Times were crazy and getting crazier.

So, that brings us up to just about now. If this was a film the camera would pull back and reveal me typing these words like Richard Dreyfuss in Stand By Me.

Saturday is Record Store Day and we've got three seven inch vinyl singles coming out on O Genesis. One is one of the songs I wrote with Kurt and recorded in Nashville, another is a split single of R. Stevie Moore and The Vaccines. They have recorded a cover of each other's song after The Vaccines came forward as big R. Stevie fans. The final one is a new band called Blood Music, it's their first single and they sound like a prog krautrock Jesus and Mary Chain.

The book's out next week and that's us just about caught up. I'll let you know how it all goes...

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