We went with Cooking Vinyl for our new album because there still seems to be a huge demand for a physical copy of the album, as opposed to just a download, and also because Alan McGee [The Charlatans’ new manager] promised us that Cooking Vinyl were not crooks!
I have known Alan McGee since 1994 but had never worked with him, until we needed a manager and someone close to me that I trust said,“ Go with Alan”. So the pair of us went off on an underground DJ tour around Britain and it was during this tour that the idea of The Charlatans giving away their music for free came about.
We were convinced that people wanted to hear music more than ever but people didn’t necessarily always want to buy CDs, and we were also convinced that the kids would love us for giving it away. The Charlatans were all into the whole idea as long as the music we gave away was the best record that we could possibly make in the time we had.
Our new album, You Cross My Path was devised in many ways to be definitive, conceptual and final. I have always talked about growing up as a kid in a satellite town outside Manchester and being influenced by the music made by the bands on Factory Records from 1981 to 1985. The Factory bands played a huge part in my musical background and we have tried to recapture these feelings on the new record. New Order, Royal Family and The Poor, Section 25, and A Certain Ratio all played a huge part in my song writing, as did The Cure, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Echo & the Bunnymen, Pauline Murray & The Invisible Girls, together with the production skills of Martin Hannett.
In the past, I have been influenced a lot by Bob Dylan and more recently Bob Marley, and for this record I’ve been drawn by Robert Smith. I call these the three Bobs in my life, although there are really four; the fourth being Bob from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks .
The Cure’s albums The Top and The Head on the Door bring back memories of drinking cider by the river, falling asleep pissed with my headphones on round my mum and dad’s house. You Cross My Path is a very emotional record and I feel with all good records, there has to be a certain nostalgia, a looking back while also looking forward.
Recordings for You Cross My Path began in an apartment on Sunset and Vine in Los Angeles last February. From the sunshine of Hollywood, California we moved in April all the way over to a farmhouse in Hollywood, Ireland and then onto a cottage in Blessington, Ireland for the third and final writing session in October.
I think Throbbing Gristle were the first band to give their music away for free and then Pete Doherty. Maybe they can afford it, but I doubt it. But I personally feel that it is the artist’s right to do as they please with their music as it’s their music. Major labels make the most money out of a CD release and the artists get next to nothing. People at major record companies are only interested in going on skiing holidays at the weekend on the company credit card, and then, during the week, they blabber on about that we (the musicians) should be doing!
Music for me is 247, 365 days a year. There will always be new ways for new bands to get exposure, such as MySpace and YouTube, but I really like the way a band called Electricity In Our Homes got together. They started a movement called The Shareholders EP, where they got all their friends to contribute a minimal donation to produce a seven-inch in the cheapest studio they could find. I think they have around 200 shareholders. Now, I am personally inspired by this kind of behaviour.
We’ve just finished a sold-out European tour that I thought went really well. We are also doing several varied festivals this summer. You’ve always got to tour – that’s money you can make to buy records with, and that’s why you make music in the first place, so you can share it with other people. If there are no fans, there really is no “you”!