XTC: The Worlds Most Greatest, Yet Underrated Band
Photo above is a promo for Apple Venus. (1999)
Well, since their new album, Apple Venus Vol. 1 came out last week I've been going nuts thinking up something to do to pay tribute to my favorite group. So I decided to do a web site. It's not going to be the largest, and not the most elaborate one you've seen, but you'll like it. These are my feelings on this most clever and intellegant band out there.
Well, I should start by telling how I got into this wonderful group. It all started in 1989 when Mayor of Simpleton came out. I was just flipping around the channels when I came across it on MTV. I just got into it. So I bought the cassette single to it. Then while on a trip to Boston I bought the cassette of the wonderful album, Oranges and Lemons at Strawberrys at Downtown Crossing. I remember the clerk saying that I made a great choice. So I took it home and at first I just listened to Mayor of Simpleton, but one day I decided to listen to the whole album, and I loved it. I did hear Senses Working Overtime a long time before that, but I didn't know who XTC was. It's so great to have an older sister with good musical tastes.
I didn't really get "into" them until a few years ago. I don't know what got me really hooked onto them, but there's this actor on Coronation Street, and he sort of looked like Andy Partridge. I guess I just got a feeling I should listen to O&L again. So I did, and I loved it, so I went to the local record stores, and bought most of XTCs albums I could find. I even started talking to this one girl who really liked them. She started telling me how she and her roomie loved listening to Skylarking. So she pointed it out to me, and I bought it. I took it home, and listened to it, and boy did it really rock. It was a masterpiece. The songs just flowed together, especially Summer's Cauldron and Grass, which became my favorite song. Until just recently I didn't realize Colin Moulding sings it. I've always thought Andy Partridge sang it.
The next thing I knew I was obsessed with the group. I listened to their music constantly. I would rarely listen to anything else. Then I got onto the Internet, and I discovered more XTC fans out there. The greatest group of people out there are at Chalkhills digest. Oh I've learned a lot by reading that digest. I don't know what I would do without that group. I know I wouldn't have known about Dave Gregory leaving and AV Vol. 1 coming out. Thanks to everyone on the digest for putting up with my stuff.
Then last year, I was hit by a truck, and I was in the hospital for about three weeks. I don't know what I would have done without XTC. They kept me sane in that lonely hospital room. I used to listen to the Gold covered copy of Skylarking all the time. It made me feel better after a hard day at PT. I wish there was a way I could thank Andy and Colin personally. I would tell them that if it wasn't for them I have no clue how I could make it through my time of tragedy. A week before my accident my grandmother died. I used to listen to Dear God a lot during that time. I just wish I could meet them and tell them personally how I feel. I would like to say my thanks for Chalkhills digest moderator, John Relph for getting me Andy Partridge's autograph. I'll always treasure it.
Well, that's my feelings about the greatest, yet underrated bands out there. I told you this wasn't going to be elaborate. That's it for now. When I get more computer savy I'll put pics up, but for now this is my XTC page. I hope you like it. And Andy or Colin if you do read this, thanks for the music.
Visit my message board:
The XTC (the band) Message Board
The AOL XTC Chat: This is the transcript from the XTC AOL chat on March 4.
- OnlineHost: AOL's Entertainment Asylum Music proudly welcomes British band XTC. Do you remember their classic hits "Making Plans for Nigel" and "Dear God"? They are ready to chat about their new album called "Apple Venus, Vol. 1."
- Question: What was the concept behind the Dukes of Stratosphere? The music, especially “What in the World,” is brilliant.
- Andy Partridge: The Dukes were, I suppose in the long tradition of bands you think you're going to be in when you're in school and then you grow up and it's not the band you thought it was. The Dukes were the sort of thing I listened to when I was in school so I thought we'd try and put history right by putting [out] a piece of history and so the Dukes were every psychedelic band from the ‘60s and ‘70s all wrapped up in one.
- Colin Moulding: I didn't get into psycho so I had to go along with the other guys, really. But I got into it. It was kind of nice to do.
- Andy Partridge: It was fun because it's like being in a masquerade ball. You don't have to be yourself. I could be anyone from that era I wanted to be. You can mix all this stuff up and it's really like being at a fancy dress party. You don't have the responsibility of being yourself, therefore, it's just pure fun.
- Andy Partridge: No. It's not. It's just one of the sorts of music that have influenced me and have influenced Colin. And I realize the older I get, the deeper its influence was. Because I remember watching when I was 10 seeing the girls scream. And I thought it was great. The Beatles hitting when the hormones were going twang and I thought they don't seem to have any trouble getting girls so you could see which way my brain was going. If I wear that sort of haircut and that sort of shirt, and hold my guitar a certain style, then I'll get the girls. It's not only music, it's every sensory input you've ever had. Everything, all the sensory input in your life is going to make you what you are.
- Colin Moulding: It's become very fashionable to dip into that.
- Question: Thank you for “Apple Venus”! Why is there no XTC sheet music in print? A complete songbook would help all of us struggling musicians decode your secret chords! Please consider it!
- Andy Partridge: There was a book called “11 Different Animals” that had 11 of our singles. I've heard you have to pay these music book companies to get these books into circulation. I don't know how it works, but if there is somebody out there that wants to spend the time with us working it out, I'm sure we'll do it.
- Colin Moulding: I'm sure Virgin would have done it.
- Andy Partridge: But if there's somebody out there who wants to help, get in touch with TVT Records.
- Question: I know that you recently taped an episode of “Space Ghost,” do you know when it is going to air? Hope to see you guys tomorrow at the Virgin Megastore!
- Andy Partridge: We'll be the ones hiding behind the table. “Space Ghost” was a strange little thing because you sit in a darkened room with a black sheet behind you and the guy has a list of things to say just to provoke you. Like give me one of your fingers. And you have to react. They then take your reactions away and animate things to match your reactions. But it was kind of fun doing it.
- Question: Why did you choose Prairie Prince to drum for the new album? I had heard that you contacted Prince's Michael Bland. I was excited to hear that collaboration. Will you use him in the future?
- Colin Moulding: Prairie Prince, I expect the fans will know, he drummed on an album of ours and we were impressed with him, and just him as a person we were impressed with, so I thought we'd like to use him again.
- Andy Partridge: We were actually listening through all of our albums and we got to listening to “Skylarking.” Colin and I were nudging ourselves about how we loved the drum licks and we thought, why don't we ring him up and get him to do some more work?
- Colin Moulding: It was actually us doing the interviews for the book that prompted us giving him a ring.
- Andy Partridge: As for Prince's drummer, I'd love to work with him, but it was a little late, someone else got to him.
- Question: Did you ever imagine a designer drug bearing your name would become so popular?
- Andy Partridge: It's a bit of an annoyance. It really is. If we had been really sharp, we'd have gotten royalties from it. We took it from Jimmy Durante's playing the last chord. We've had it since 1975. Thank goodness we didn't settle on TDM.
- Colin Moulding: It's actually been pinched quite a bit and I think it's now a condom too.
- Andy Partridge: You can get XTC condoms and XTC sports drinks, all of these are from companies being bloody minded. But there was, at the turn of the century in America, XTC tobacco, because someone sent to me a label and it said XTC, so it's obviously not a new idea, folks.
- Question: Who would win in a fight, .38 Special or XTC?
- Andy Partridge: .38 Special are what? I don't know them. Well, they would, they'd outnumber us.
- Colin Moulding: Unless we got my big brother.
- Question: Do you guys have any plans for reissuing a compilation of videos from 1979 to present?
- Andy Partridge: We don't own them. We own nothing that we did for Virgin. They own everything. So I would actually like to put out a video compilation from '79 to now, but for some reason Virgin won't get off their bums and do this. If there's a second volume I'd like to call it “Video Rideo,” which in Latin means I saw and I laughed, which sums up our career.
- Question: Hi Andy, could you shed some light on a line from “I Can't Own Her”? Is it wind sliding down or what?
- Andy Partridge: It's "I own this river, I own this town, all of its climbers and its winos sliding down." Because winos slide down. What else does a wino do than slide down?
- Question: I was wondering who were your musical influences as a child?
- Colin Moulding: All sorts of people. The Kinks, the Beatles, Small Faces, um, if I was here for the next half hour I could probably not think of them all.
- Andy Partridge: Inadvertently, you don't want them to influence you, but they do. If you're exposed to this stuff it has to influence you.
- Question: Andy Partridge: John Fogerty had a great aversion to touring at one time but now revels in it -- do you think this could happen to you?
- Andy Partridge: Do you mean do I want to turn into John Fogerty? Maybe, like people say when are you going to tour? I say, when you least expect it. Right now I'm not interested, neither of us are interested in touring. We like making records and being songwriters.
- Colin Moulding: I think the decision not to tour was largely taken from Andy, but I can see the benefits now. I think we've done the best work and we can't take the orchestra on the road.
- Question: Is there any chance for reconciliation with Dave Gregory? Would you consider working with him, but not as a member of XTC?
- Andy Partridge: Like in a restaurant or something? Do you want him to collect our garbage? No, I wouldn't work with Dave because of how our history has been soured. Dave was in the band nearly 20 years, and I've known him since around about the age of 14 when I used to go to the Penn Hill Hop. Life begins at the Hop. It was a St. Peter's Church Hall Hop and I used to go there around the age of 14 and see Dave Gregory with his band on stage. He was 15 with a Beatle cut and a guitar and he could play fantastic like Jimi Hendrix or Led Zeppelin, so I used to secretly idolize Dave as a kid. So we go back a long way. So it's male divorce.
- Question: “The Last Balloon,” is this song what you feel about religion?
- Andy Partridge: It's not about religion at all, no. It's about the fact that mankind seems to have polluted itself with its deeds in the past and I think children are our only hope and if they're going to succeed, they've got to get off the balloon, and that's the metaphor for escaping. The kids have to escape the bad adult influence and not turn to guns and violence and vanity. I'm sure a lot of them will do that, but I'm just saying, please don't listen to us grown-ups.
- Question: About the album artwork, are you supposed to view it from the side?
- Andy Partridge: It would be nice if you viewed it from the side until when they're taking your credit card. However you want to view it actually.
- Question: What are all the hidden BACKWARDS messages in “Then She Appeared”? (from the Saurcerman) [sic]
- Andy Partridge: I don't know what the Saucerman is, and there are no hidden messages. Paul McCartney is one of my favorite people in history, and when Linda died I really felt awful.
- Question: I read on the Chalkhills page that you're compiling a set of demos... when might that come by and will you put “Prince of Orange” on it?
- Colin Moulding: Yes, there are plans to take our demos and digitally remaster them or master them and let the fans just see what we've been up to in the privacy of our own bedrooms. So, yeah, it's on its way and so we're trying to make it a package.
- Andy Partridge: People keep coming up to us in the streets and saying, "I have all your demos," and I thought, we don't even have them, where are they getting them?
- Colin Moulding: A lot of the demos got out when we circulate them to record companies and people get ahold of them.
- Question: Who is Nigel?
- Colin Moulding: Oh, God, Nigel isn't anybody in particular. I used to go to school with quite a few Nigels and I suppose that's where it stems from. I don't know, it's just a name.
- Question: Nice hat, Andy. Very David Lynch!
- Andy Partridge: It's more Razorhead really than David Lynch. I had the two worst haircuts in my life in San Francisco. They were both in San Francisco. The guy just took the clippers like a Marine camp. So my advice is think twice before getting your hair cut in San Francisco.
- Question: The music on “Apple Venus, Vol. 1” is very cinematic (and beautiful). Have you ever or would you want to ever do film soundtrack music?
- Andy Partridge: I've wanted to do songs for films, but not incidental music. The only time I think that any music I've been involved in has been used incidentally was in “Jerry Maguire,” which is at the end when he realizes he's got to get back to his lover. And I saw that for the first time a few days ago in a hotel and I started saying, hey, that's me.
- Andy Partridge: But I think Colin and I are going to one day do a musical.
- Colin Moulding: It probably would be a different [kettle of] fish if you had to write music from a storyline. Because a lot of what we write is from our own imaginations. And writing for a musical is not writing from your own imagination.
- Andy Partridge: What we write about is our lives and what we see and do.
- Question: When do you expect that the second volume of “Apple Venus” will be out in the US?
- Andy Partridge: We're going back to England and working on getting our own studio sorted out. A space offered by the lovely Colin. He's sacrificed his garage.
- Colin Moulding: My lawnmower is sitting out in the rain right now. I've made the sacrifice.
- Andy Partridge: I think there will be such a millennium kick that it won't be before the first of the year.
- OnlineHost: Thank you for joining us.
- XTC: Bye.
My Favorite XTC Sites
The Little Lighthouse