XTC: We're the Same Plebby Carrots We Always Were

People still think we're a bunch of cloddy yokels who sleep with the pigs,’ moans Andy Partridge of XTC in his wonderfully rotund West Country burr. From the land of Stonehenge and Wiltshire pork pies, here speaks a man who has shunned publicity for a staggering ten years.

Since 1977, XTC have been plugging away, concocting enchanting melodies which they cleverly weave around subtly serious slorylines. In the early 80s they notched up a respectable number of hits — such as ‘Making Plans For Nigel’ and ‘Senses Working Overtime’ — and developed the knack of writing simple but sensuous folk-pop songs with a rural English flavour.

‘We're something very unsensational but terribly English,’ smirks Andy with a plum in his mouth. ‘We're like HP sauce or the pillar-box . . . we'll always be here.’

With their eighth album under their belts and a new single, ‘Dear God’, recently released, XTC seem invincible, despite the fact that they've never really achieved the commercial success they deserve. Andy is undaunted.

‘I'm a real lolloper! If I had my way, life would slow down a few thousand miles per hour and really amble along. I suppose you could relate this to our career as well. We're not rock and roll people, we've never been into that kind of thing. Once our drummer got drunk and pulled a telephone out of the wall, but that was only because he'd got the wrong number. I think this attitude has kept us out of the top 40; we've never hankered for pop stardom . . . waking up in the morning thinking, “God, I feel famous today!” We're still the same plebby carrots we always were.’

The new single, ‘Dear God’, caused a bit of a stir in the United States, with ‘moral majority’ members baying for Andy Partridge's blood for questioning the existence of their Lord.

‘For all I know there's bonfires of XTC records all over America by now. All these loving Christians have been threatening to blow up any radio station that plays the record. It's just typical of America, it's such a loony place. Give me deadly dull and boring Swindon anyday.’

If Andy Partridge was any more down-to-earth, his wellies would sink him. His ambition is to be able to pay off the mortgage, move out into the windswept Wiltshire countryside and retire.

‘I've done my time travelling around the world's grottiest places playing gigs I can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about hotel rooms. For instance, did you know that they're always orange? All that touring stuff drove me mad. I used to get paranoid about being on display. I couldn't go down to the local pub without worrying that everyone was looking at me. It drove me nutty. It was like a roving prison sentence.

‘Now I would like to get away from it all. I'd love to own my own country. I'd ban cars, aeroplanes . . . anything that goes faster than man can run. I'm not a modern person so I'd ban gadgets. I think the world would be a much better place. . . Oh, and I have my own record company so I could make as many records as I wanted.’


Biz / The Mail on Sunday / Aug 30 1987

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[Thanks to Dean Skilton]