Tim Burgess: the Isle of Wight's Big Top juggler

How The Charlatans' frontman got in to curating a festival tent

Tim Burgess: the Isle of Wight's Big Top juggler

Photographer: Al De PerezBen Rust on 30 April 2009

Virtual Festivals: Firstly, how did you get involved with the Isle of Wight Festival?
Tim Burgess: "Well, I got involved because John Giddings from the Isle of Wight Festival asked me to put together a line up, he wanted The Charlatans to headline, and you know, he gave me a budget and I booked the bands I wanted to see on the day."

VF: How did you pick the bands for your night in the Big Top?
TB: "I really wanted The Horrors to play. They're my friends and I just really wanted them to play, so they were always at the top of my list. Killing Joke were the first band I ever saw live as a kid. I was 14 years old and went in my school uniform and they've been playing their first two albums on a tour with the original line up. I just thought that that would be an amazing kind of to have them on one hand and The Horrors, who have just released their second album, to blow people away. On the other hand you've got a band that was the first band I saw myself, so I wanted to be quite honest with the choices really.”

VF: You self-published your first single, do you see your selection of some of the newer bands, especially Dance For Burgess, as giving them the leg up that you never had?
TB: "Perhaps, yeah. I think I'm just representing the human spirit, or definitely one aspect of the human spirit. [Laughs]."

VF: You headlined the festival in 2002 and 2004 and now you've got your own night, do you have a special affection for the Isle of Wight?
TB: "I always remember a couple of years ago John Giddings saying he was going to make a bronze statue of me and put it on the Isle of Wight [laughs] but that never happened. But he did give me a chance to do my own day, so he has at least given me something. We were the first band to play the Isle of Wight as it is now, I think the festival was only about 10,000 people back then, so it's grown a lot since."

VF: How did you feel headlining in 2002 knowing you were the first band since Jimi Hendrix to do so, was there pressure because of the history of the festival?
TB: "I don't think it really affected our performance that day no, but I think that the Isle of Wight and Glastonbury are the two festivals with the most history really, even though it is a different venue the Isle of Wight does have its history doesn't it?"

VF: Your line-up is certainly different from the rest of the festival, how do you feel about the rest of the bill?

TB: "Yeah, I'm a big Neil Young fan actually and so I'm afraid that we're playing at the same time [laughs]. I just wanted to do something that was kind of an alternative really, I think that's what it is. Something that was quite me, quite personal and something to give people an alternative to the main stage, which I think I've done."

VF: How do you feel about going up opposite Neil Young on the Sunday?
TB: "Oh, that's going to be a hard one, you know, ‘After The Gold Rush’ by Neil Young is one of the greatest records and it meant a lot to me and that record has been very inspirational. I'm just a bit disappointed personally that I won't be able to, well maybe I'll be able to see bits of him. About going up against him, hopefully it won't be a disaster, they'll be so many people at the festival anyway that hopefully they'll do a bit of both."

VF: Is there anyone in particular you want to see over the weekend?

TB: "Yeah, I really want to see everyone who's on my stage. [Laughs]."

Tim Burgess has curated the Big Top line-up at the Isle of Wight Festival. Click here to see who he has picked and the rest of the line-up.

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