IT'S only been a month since the death of The Charlatans drummer Jon Brookes, and the rawness is still clearly apparent for band member Tim Burgess.
On his way to checking out a new coffee shop in Manchester, the singer stops for a chat to talk about his new solo album and tour, and the shock of losing his band mate who had been battling to survive a brain tumour.
"It's really hard to say what you feel at times," hesitates Tim, who will be coming to Exeter Phoenix on his solo tour on Thursday, September 19.
"If I was in front of friends I would say one of the best things I ever done was going to the hospital to see Jon. He was awake and the first thing he said to me was, 'How is your little boy?' That was just the sweetest thing. He smiled and it was the biggest smile I had seen that week. It's hard seeing that in print sometimes.
"I was close to Jon as a band member and I've known him for 25 years, but Martin, our bass player, was much closer because they'd known each other for much longer so I feel bad for him and obviously also for Jon's wife and kids."
Despite Jon's illness, work on the next Charlatans album had already begun. Its release date is now on hold, but the good news is it is likely to be finished.
"There's no suggestion to say it will stop, but there's no rush to get back into the studio," says Tim. "Everyone is just taking their time.
"With the new material we're not planning a major left turn or anything like that, but it will be a fresh, rejuvenated sound."
To Tim's surprise, he is still touring with his second solo album, Oh No I Love You, which was released last year. His last solo record came out back in 2004 when the Charlatans were taking a break.
"I'd always wanted to make a solo record," admits Tim. "This time with the new one I was at a real crossroads in my life.
"I had left all my belongings in LA and fled to London. I'd just completely had enough. It was a very interesting time and I would not change anything, but I just lost the muse.
"After six months off I thought about making a record and saw if Kurt Wagner (frontman of American band Lambchop) was around.
"After a few false starts I went to Nashville on a whim with my guitar, met him in a coffee shop and said, 'Do you want to make an album?'"
The rest, as they say, is history and the album has been put out on Tim's own label, O Genesis, which has grown from putting a friend's record out to going international with singer R Stevie Moore.
"Having your own record label definitely gives you freedom as there's nothing to stop an idea," admits Tim. "It might sound a bit egocentric in a lot of ways, but the way I feel I do things is quite unique. I can follow my instinct and put out records I like, and it's been working so far."
It's been 24 years since The Charlatans formed and during that time they have experienced major chart success and have always done things their way, such as releasing their most recent album online for free.
With the highs has also come the lows, and even tragedies. In 1996, keyboardist Rob Collins was killed in a car crash, and then replacement keyboardist Tony Rogers had testicular cancer.
Tim has also faced his own well-documented demons which can be vividly read in his autobiography Telling Stories.
In 2006, he turned his back on drugs and has since also quit drink and cigarettes. His regular fix now is transcendental meditation which he reportedly does 20 minutes twice a day.
"Now I never think about drugs at all," says Tim. "I wrote the autobiography with a very, very clear head and a very clear vision of how I wanted it to be.
"I've read so many autobiographies where you don't know anymore about the person than before. I wanted people to learn something about me they hadn't read before and I wanted it to be quite revealing. I also wanted it to be funny."
All those boxes were definitely ticked in one chapter in particular called Cocainus which Tim describes as his "Keith Richard's snorting his dad's ashes moment", referring to the way he had ingested cocaine in the 1990s.
"I wanted to take it out as I was nervous about keeping it in, but at the same time I didn't want to take it out," says Tim. "I asked all my friends and they said I had to keep it in!"
If a story like that isn't enough to embarrass Tim then picking out old photographs revealing his many different hairstyles is not likely to either.
Currently sporting a blonde barnet, he neither agrees or disagrees that blondes have more fun, and says: "I'm not at all embarrassed by my hairstyles, although some have been better than others! My hair is staying blonde for now. I think it makes me look more different than everyone else."
A consequence of being in the music business is just not reflected in Tim's image. Over the years he has amassed a huge record collection which reflects his diverse tastes from the Beatles and Neil Young to quite eclectic music such as Peter Gordon. "I also like northern soul and I've got a massive collection of 7-inch punk singles," says Tim. "My record collection is almost like a library at home.
"I've never counted them and I'm always losing them, giving them away or buying new stuff – often I've forgotten I've bought it already. It's turned into a compulsion rather than a pleasure!"
The collection does serve a fruitful purpose though because Tim is also a DJ. He started back in 1993 after the Chemical Brothers persuaded him to do a set when they had a residency at The Heavenly Sunday Social.
Always up for a new challenge, Tim has been asked to write the theme tune for a BBC documentary, and is looking forward to going wherever his future may take him.
"It's just a case of seeing what lands on your doorstep. I like to keep busy and at the moment I've got to or else I would just think about Jon.
"Even though he had been sick for a while, everyone thought he might get better. There's always the possibility of hope so it's still been a bit of a shock."
On tour Tim will be playing his new album in its entirety, along with a few deconstructed songs from The Charlatans, plus with a cover or two thrown in.
"I've been doing an acoustic version of The Only One I Know which people seem to really like," reveals Tim, who last visited Exeter in the mid-90s. "It's a completely different way of listening to the song."
Tickets for the gig, starting at 8pm, cost £15. Call 01392 667080 or visit www.exeterphoenix.org.uk