Sometimes hitting rock bottom can be a blessing in disguise, as was the case with Charlatans UK bandleader Tim Burgess, who wa penniless when he returned to his native England from Los Angeles after divorcing his wife a few years ago.
“I had nothing. I gave her everything in the settlement, so I started over again from scratch,” he says. “So I moved to a warehouse in London and shared with 10 other people for three years. It was crazy – it was like a commune, basically.”
Oddly, the hardscrabble time led to the singer’s most productive period ever, including a new Charlatans album “Modern Nature,” much of which celebrates the life of its late drummer Jon Brookes, who succumbed to brain cancer in 2013. Promoting the recording, the group plays the Regency Ballroom in The City next week.
To cheer himself up, Burgess decided to stay busy. He finally accepted a Viking Press offer to pen his autobiography, “Telling Stories.” And he flew to Nashville to track his second solo effort, “Oh No I Love You,” a collaboration with Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner he had been planning for a decade.
“So instead of having one iron in the fire, there were about five or six, and they all just started happening simultaneously,” says Burgess, who also launched his own pop-up summer-festival cafe – then a brand of coffee to go with it — under the David-Lynch-inspired moniker of Tim Peaks. Profits benefit Lynch’s Transcendental Meditation-based foundation. In keeping with its “Twin Peaks” theme, the diner features cherry pie, plus Blue Velvet cake.
“I started the Tim Peaks thing on Twitter,” the entrepreneur says. “So it was just a metaphorical, metaphysical coffee shop. So then someone suggested that I actually get some coffee made up, so we sorted some fair trade coffee from Ethiopia and other sources. I got to taste several different samples to put my name to, and last year alone we donated over 10,000 pounds to charity, so it’s all good.”
When The Charlatans started work on “Modern Nature,” Brookes was still alive, but too weak to participate in most sessions. “But after he died, we had a sense that he was still in the same room with us, because we thought of him all the time,” says Burgess, who came up with odes to his friend like “Trouble Understanding” and “We Sleep On Borrowed Time.”
The rocker, 48, also found a new significant other, with whom he has a 2-year-old son, and he’s beginning work on a second book, a vintage-vinyl-seeking travelogue. ”And I’m doing another solo album,” he says. “So the past five yeas have been quite turbulent for me. But in very, very positive ways.”
IF YOU GO
The Charlatans UK
Where: Regency Ballroom, 1300 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 16
Tickets: $27.50 to $30
Contact: (888) 929-7849, www.axs.com