He was part of the music scene made famous by the movie and book "24 Hour Party People," but Tim Burgess is maybe best-known these days as the host of an entirely different kind of party.
The singer for the '90s British band the Charlatans — imported into America under the name the Charlatans U.K. — is the host of the popular music-geek virtual gatherings known as "Tim's Twitter Listening Party."
Started during the pandemic as "really just something to do" while his band was sidelined, Burgess said, the so-called parties are essentially online listening sessions. Musicians or others involved in the making of a certain album answer questions via Twitter while fans listen along to that record at a designated start time.
Sounds pretty nerdy, but such cool British rock stars as Paul McCartney and members of Oasis, Blur and Iron Maiden have participated.
On Thursday, Burgess will host a live installment of one of his listening parties at the Electric Fetus store in Minneapolis a few hours before taking the stage for a First Avenue concert.
Clearly, then, the familiarly mop-topped singer isn't letting his side gig as the listening-party host fall by the wayside now that he's back to his regularly scheduled gig with the Charlatans, who are on a U.S. winter tour co-headlining with another influential U.K. band, Ride.
"They've taken on a life of their own, even now that the pandemic has basically ended," Burgess confirmed of the parties, which can be followed on Twitter at @Listening_Party or hash-tag #TimsTwitterListeningParty.
Two different books have been published documenting the parties' tweets, and both a podcast and radio show are in the works based on them.
Burgess, 55, got the idea for the listening sessions based on his own experiences taking questions from interviewers and fans over three-plus decades about his own records.
"Speaking just for myself, I never know what a record is about until a few years later," Burgess said by phone from London last month.
His discography includes five solo albums and 13 LPs with the Charlatans going back to their 1990 debut, "Some Friendly." That one gave the band a U.S. radio hit right out of the gate, the organ-pumping, psychedelic groover "The Only One I Know" — a defining single of the dancefloor-driven, hallucinogenics-laced rock music scene in Manchester, England, which started with New Order/Joy Division and included Charlatans peers such as the Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets and Happy Mondays.
"I think a few years later, after everyone's heard a record, people just want to know more, and the mystery of it gets solved more and more," the singer continued.
"At first, the musician might be like, 'I don't want to talk about that song!' But a few years later they'll just go, 'Oh, yeah, it's a song about my dog,' or whatever. It can be a learning experience even for the songwriter."
While they continue to regularly put out new albums into the 21st century — last one was 2017's "Different Days" — the Charlatans are touring to promote the 30th anniversary of their second album, "Between 10th and 11th," and will perform it in full at First Ave. Ride is doing the same with its 1993 record "Nowhere."
Thus, the subject of the listening party and signing at the Electric Fetus (1 p.m. Thursday) will also be that sophomore LP by the Charlatans.
Burgess is happily surprised the parties continue to generate lots of viral attention well after the pandemic, including "replays" at a website, Timstwitterlisteningparty.com, which allows fans to do their own listening session whenever they want.
However, he still prefers the live parties.
"During lockdown, you could actually feel the amount of people listening from around the world," he proudly noted. "Everyone was in isolation, maybe by themselves with their headphones on, and you'd see their tweets roll down.
"The ones I participated in, you'd think at first, 'This isn't very busy!' And then all of a sudden there'd be 150 questions come in at once and you think, 'How the [bleep] am I gonna answer all of these?' It's really exciting, almost like a real live gig."
Here's more of what the Charlatans singer had to say ahead of his dual Minneapolis gigs.
On Iron Maiden having the two most popular listening-party replays: "We wanted their 'Powerslave' to be the 666th listening party. They were really into it. It was the fastest I've seen one rise on Twitter. 'Iron Maiden' was trending within about 45 seconds. Then after they trended to No. 1, the replay on the website got something like 75,000 hits the first few days. And it was almost all from South America."
On the Minnesota band that twice joined his listening parties, Low, whose co-leader Mimi Parker died from cancer in November: "I loved the band. I think I got turned onto them through their Christmas record, one of the greatest Christmas albums of all time. And then obviously I learned there's a lot more to them. So I was incredibly touched and moved by the sad news."
On the unlikely success of 1993's 'Between 10th & 11th,' the record being celebrated at First Ave: "Everything about our first album was done very naturally, kind of a classic story of a debut album. And it was successful in America, so we quickly made an EP. Then another EP. Our label in the U.K. finally said, 'OK, get on with it! We need you to make another record.'
"So we signed up one of the most expensive producers in the world, Flood, and one of the most expensive studios in the world, but we only had two songs written. Two! Pretty mental! We wound up writing most of the record in the studio. Lots of the songs, to me, show that. They're very experimental and loose. I don't know how we did it, but we did it. Now, I think it sounds really fresh and excited."
On current tourmates Ride: "In 1993, me and [Ride singer/guitarist] Andy Bell were hanging out a lot. We decided to do two shows in the U.K., and we called it Daytripper, because they were these seaside towns. Ride headlined Brighton, and we headlined Glasgow. It was a lot of fun and very successful. It's one of those things I didn't think we'd ever get to do again, especially when Ride broke up [in 1996]. And here we are. It's a beautiful thing."
On why the Charlatans is one of the very few Manchester scene bands still together, following the deaths of keyboardist Rob Collins and drummer Jon Brookes: "When Rob died [car crash, 1996], the rest of us really bonded. To go through one death, and then when Jon died [brain cancer, 2013], it was really intense. So the rest of us are really like family now. And I don't mean it to sound so dark and sad, because it's really a positive thing. We really like making music together, but we really care for each other, too, which is quite special."
The Charlatans U.K.
First Avenue concert: 7 p.m. Thu., 701 1st Av. N., Mpls. $35-$40, with Ride and DJ Jake Rudh, axs.com.
Tim's Twitter Listening Party: 1 p.m. Thu., Electric Fetus, 2000 S. 4th St., Mpls., free.