XTC Interview on 103.1FM/Los Angeles

Sunset Radio - Channel 1031
May 10, 2000
transcribed by John Keel

The players involved in the interview were: Nicole Sandler (NS), Andy Partridge (AP) and Colin Moulding (CM). I missed the very beginning of the interview as the tape was winding onto the heads, but the intro went almost exactly like this:

Nicole Sandler: Hi, I'm Nicole Sandler here on Channel 1-0-3-1 and I have two very special guests in the studio with me.

[At this point the tape begins]

Andy Partridge: No you haven't.

NS: Yeah.

AP: No, we're not here. No. Nope. She's lying.

NS: [laughing] I'm just lying. That would be the voice of Andy Partridge and sitting across from me who hasn't spoken yet, Colin Moulding . . .

Colin Moulding: That's me.

NS: That's you.

AP: I'm working him with my foot. It's got a long pedal and a bit o' string there.

NS: [laughing] Uh, XTC is how you might know them better as, and -

AP: Yes.

NS: - I gotta say that I, uh, the occasion is a new album coming out in two weeks - May 23rd is the date - it's Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume Two), kind of the follow-up to Apple Venus Volume One which we had late last year, and I, I need to say I feel a particular affinity with you guys because I started in radio in college, back in 1979 and I did this free form radio show, where, um, it was when I, I guess Black Sea or Drums and Wires had just come out and you guys were, like, high up there on my playlist.

AP: Did you have it on cylinder format at the time?

NS: No. No, not quite that old, but I did have vinyl, you know, this was back In the old days with a needle.

AP: This was 1879, right? The great punk wars.

NS: Yes, um, 122 years ago um, but anyways, so I feel like I kinda grew up in radio with XTC and I've been playing your music all these years from, you know, starting with, umm, "Generals & Majors" and, um "Respectable Street" and "Making Plans for Nigel" and -

AP: - and there's some nice young men in clean white coats dragging her out as she's foaming at the mouth now . . .

NS: So, and now, you know, all these years later, here you are.

AP: All these years later and I just found out how to make the odd chord shape or two.

CM: All these years wider as well.

AP: Yes, Older and wider.

NS: Well, you don't look wider- but, you, you don't do this very often so I'm thrilled to have you here and it's really a pleasure to meet you both 'cause it's the first time we're meeting.

AP: [makes an "Aw, shucks, golly" kind of sound]

NS: Now, you're here in my little studio rather than Studio C across the hall.

AP: Yes, it's intimate. I don't want to move quickly, I'm gonna make somebody pregnant.

NS: But, you're not performing because you don't really do that these days.

AP: Umm-m-m, no. You think people would have got the hint after 19 years as a non-live band. Five years live, enough of that, thank you, want to concentrate on the best things in life so we've made albums for the last 19 -

CM: We much prefer making records -

AP: Yeah.

CM: - it's just a magical thing making records.

AP: That's the alchemy we do.

CM: You uh, you seek to find that magic that you've heard on your favorite records and that's what you want to do, you know. That's what we prefer doing.

NS: Okay, well we have the new record here, which again is in stores May 23rd. It is called Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2).

AP: That's tricky to say with borrowed teeth.

NS: It, it, I have my own teeth and it's still tricky to say

AP: Oh, really? [chuckle] Not George Washington's?

NS: I'm not that old. I'm old, but I'm not that old. Anyway we've been playing the first single off the album, uh, is "I'm the Man Who Murdered Love", kind of uh, uh, a tough stance on the state of love, isn't it?

AP: Well, you know, what's the point in us having love, we never use it so I thought I'd do everyone a favor and bump him off, you know.

NS: This is new from XTC. It's on Channel 1-0-3-1.

["I'm The Man Who Murdered Love" plays]

NS: Channel 1-0-3-1 with brand new world class rock from XTC, "I'm the Man Who Murdered Love" found on their forthcoming album Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2) which will be in stores on the 23rd, just about -

AP: Congratulations. You haven't said that wrong once yet.

NS: Well, thank you. You know, I'm a professional.

AP: Yeah, all the people that we've been doing interviews with, they're calling this album "Wassssh St-t--uh"

NS: I work hard on that pronunciation stuff.

AP: Yes, very good

NS: Well, Andy and Colin from XTC are here, and you said that was the first time you've heard this song on radio?

AP: Oh, yeah. I'm sure it's getting played but it's the first time we've been in a radio station and it got played and -

CM: And hearing it with radio compressors and stuff like that -

AP: Yeah, yeah, sort of -

CM: It's a different, it sounds different, you know.

NS: It sounds good? Bad?

AP: Ugly. [laughs]

NS: Well, you know -

AP: It sounds like Sheryl Crow - AAAAH! Don't say that!

NS: This is kind of a typical XTC song in that it's got a poppy, catchy melody that, you know, you hear it and it's instantly, it sticks in your head -

AP: Doesn't that get on your tits? Honestly.

NS: Oh, yeah. Then, it's that kind of sarcastic irony in the lyrics -

AP: Irony, please. Not sarcasm.

NS: Okay, irony.

AP: Yep. Any old irony.

NS: Irony - in a good way.

AP: In a good way.

NS: Um, and you've got a lot of that, I've noticed that on this album there's a lot of songs brimming with irony about relationships.

AP: Well, not, not so much irony, I mean, that one's kind of ironic 'cause it's saying, what? You know, I'll kill love and I'll free you all up and there'll be no more problems. Because you're not using love, poor thing, he hasn't worked, you know - I'm doing him a favor. I'm doing mankind a favor. You don't want love. You don't want to do with it, you know. But, the other love type related songs on there are all pretty damn truthful.

NS: Yeah, a lot about cheating . . .

AP: Oh, lots about cheatin', and lots about feelin' good, though too.

NS: Yes, and in fact the next song we're going to listen to is called "Stupidly Happy" we'll get to that . . .

AP: Which is about the stupidest, happiest song we've ever written. It's great what you can do with one chord.

NS: All right. Well, we'll find out in just a minute. Now, it's been a while, aside from, we had Apple Venus Volume One that came out a few months ago but it was about seven years before that since we had last heard from XTC.

CM: Yes, had a bit of a layoff, not intentional we just, um, got kind of strangled by our old record company and -

NS: There's a lot of that goin' around, isn't there?


CM: What, strangling?

AP: Strangling?

CM: It is an offense, but -

AP: Yeah, we needed to get free, so, it was - you know about the strike. I'm not gonna do the whole strike story again, but we spent seven years in the 'fridge, basically, storing up songs, [affects bad german accent a la Dr. Strangelove] "for the day vhen we would be free und rule ze world".

NS:So you spent the seven years writing songs, coming up with what you like and you basically came up with two collections.

CM: Yes, just collected the songs and just nursed them until the day that we could, you know, record them. Uh. . .

AP: Yep, and now they've got to leave home. They're big and hairy assed, now they've got to get out.

CM: [can't hear under Andy] - two feet now, yes.

NS: All right, So we had Apple Venus Volume One which was more of the softer side orchestral arrangements,

AP: Yep, that's right, yeah. Plenty of rosin on the go there. The smell of rosin was appalling in the studio.

CM: [says something but can't hear him]

NS:And for Wasp Star we pulled out the electric guitars.

AP: Yeah, we plugged back in. Back up to number 11.

NS: Okay. You want to hear Stupidly Happy"?

AP: Yeah, go on. Let's do it. The stupidest song I ever wrote, but hey, it's all right.

NS: It's rock and roll, it's XTC on Channel 1-0-3-1.

["Stupidly Happy" plays]

NS: That's brand new from XTC, "Stupidly Happy" from the album that, uh, will be out in a couple of weeks. It's called Wasp Star Apple. . .

AP: Yep. Can you get any happier than that?

NS: No, it feels good though, doesn't it, to be happy?

AP: It feels good, yeah. Yeah, it's a good thing.

NS: Now, you know, I gotta say, I got the best play-by-play of that entire song from Andy Partridge while it was playing.

AP: It's new so I'm still keen on it

NS: But, it's great. I need to speak for fans out there because I hear it from them all the time that I think it's a shame that you don't perform any more because you've got a wonderful way of speaking and talking about the music and -

AP: Well, maybe we'd do a lecture tour and explain it all.

NS: Well, you know what? That's not a bad idea. Do like a "Storytellers" if you don't want to perform, then, at least, talk about the music because there's obvious great enjoyment there and you talk about it so beautifully. You talked about the process of recording that song and -

AP: Well, it's all additive. It starts with just - a third of it is just one guitar and a drum set and then each time something comes 'round one instrument gets added. Like a tambourine will get added then stay in for the whole song and then the bass will get added on - it's one note - and then stay on for the whole song, and then a harmony vocal will get added and stay in and another guitar will get added and stay in and so on and, so, so it starts with just the two things right at the top of the song and grows sort of wedge-shaped like a giant piece of gorgonzola or something to the end of the song and you physically can't cram any more in there.

NS: And you said that the bass guitar was the last thing -

AP: We always record the bass last.

CM: We always play the bass last. It's much better to do that for all you bass players out there. You can just, uh, pitch it just right just how much you want to play

NS: And you said if it was good enough for the Beatles it's good enough for you.

AP: Well they recorded the bass last when they, uh, when they had the chance.

CM: They had to do it out of technical necessity, but we don't. We like to do it for artistic reasons

NS: 'Cause it works.

AP: Yeah, it works. You just know, you can just hear the right spots you need the bass, you know. 'Cause too many bass players overplay. They think "ooh, better fill it all up", you know. It's not necessary.

NS: All right, that from Andy Partridge, Colin Moulding is here from XTC. We need to take a break. We'll come back on the other side, we'll hear one more song from the album and thank you profusely again for coming in.

AP: [makes funny noises] Ah, hey. Uh-uh. Oh help. I feel strange. Help.

[Commercial Break]

NS: Well, our guests are still here. I'm very, -

AP: [ starts snoring ]

NS: [laughing ] very happy to be here with Andy and Colin from XTC. Um, all right, we're going to play one more song off the new album. Why is it called Wasp Star?

AP: It's called Wasp Star because Apple Venus Volume Two might confuse. So we thought, we were thinking of giving it a shorter title in any case so, I found the Aztec phrase for Venus is . . . ?

NS: Wasp Star?

AP: There you go.

NS: Un-hunh.

AP: Isn't that beautiful?

NS: But, it actually works out to be a longer title because it's actually then in parentheses Apple Venus Volume Two.

AP: Well, you don't have to do the parentheses. Everyone knows it's Volume 2.

CM: [ says something ending in ] the brackets.

AP: That's right, yeah.

NS: All right, well the next song we're going to listen to is one that, Colin, that you wrote.

CM: Yes. It's about marriage and, uh, but not in a country and western sort of way. It's more in a, sort of an English music hall sort of way. You know, we've all got foibles and stuff and, uh, it just explores them in the song.

AP: If you're nice to him he'll show you his foibles.

CM: Yes. There's a crème for it I'm sure.

NS: We'll see after the song. It's called "In Another Life". It's brand new from XTC. It's on Channel 1-0-3-1.

["In Another Life" plays]

NS: Channel 1-0-3-1 and new music from XTC: "In Another Life".

AP: Fuzz them drums.

NS: Everything's fuzzed.

AP: Actually, everything - I'm not joking - everything on this album is fuzzed to some degree or another.

NS: You did say that you thought the drumming on this album is the best of any -

AP: Yes. It's just got the nicest feel, the sort of grooviest most insistent - it just makes your backbone go [makes cracking noise] you know.

NS: Who played the drums on this record?

AP: Mostly an American who lives in London called Chuck Sabo, who - I can't really tell you what else he's drummed on - he does a lot of session work and stuff. He's still very young.

CM: I know he drummed on that, uh, Ray of Light album by Madonna.

NS: Madonna.

CM: Yes, I think he did.

AP: Was that him?

CM: I think that was him.

AP: I know also Natalie Imbruglia, I think he's drummed on her. Although which bits - which bits darling we don't want to say.

NS: Who else - ?

AP: And then Prairie Prince drummed on four tracks as well.

NS: And were there any other guests on the album?

AP: Um, a couple of string players on the last track - pretty much it's just me and him making all the noise. Yep.

CM: Yeah, [can't hear the next bit] fleshing it out.

NS: And to answer the question one more time, you don't ever think there well ever be any more live XTC performances.

AP: Not at the moment, no, but who knows? You know, we may wake up at the age of 60 [in an old man voice] "I want to go back out on the road".

NS: Okay, well it's good to have the new music anyway. The album is called Wasp Star is in stores May 23rd and, uh, I really appreciate you coming by here.

AP: Thank you.

NS: Now I read somewhere that you said that you don't like to go back and listen to the early XTC music.

AP: No. It's pointless.

NS: Why?

AP: Uh, why does a dog return to it's vomit? It's kind of - you know, you got rid of that stuff. I, I don't even, you know I've forgotten the lyrics and chords to this new stuff already. You know, I'm thinking about the next thing. And it's, sometimes we - personally, if I get really, really, drunk I'll lay down on the floor, put headphones on - so that no one else can hear it - and I'll play a few old XTC albums, but I inevitably pass out by about track number five.

CM: I think that when you listen to it you always hear things you could have done better, you know, and that's a real tease, you know. So it doesn't do you any good revisiting it I don't think.

AP: You have to move on. The future is, the future is bright - the future is orange. No, the future is good.

NS: You do know there are those fans of us out there who - you know, your music it holds up beautifully today. I mean -

AP: It holds water, does it?

CM: It holds up a few shelves.

NS: No, we enjoy going back and listening to those albums, so on behalf of them I thank you for the great music you've made over the years and the new music you continue to make.

AP: Thank you, my dear, thank you.

NS: And I thought we'd say goodbye and go out with one of the classics, in fact, possibly your most controversial song.

AP: Yeah, and if I squeeze my nuts I can get that [high-pitched voice] vocal again. [sings] "Dear God".

NS: Now you did say Sarah McLachlan did a beautiful cover of "Dear God"?

AP: She did, damn her eyes. She did a really good version.

NS: And I love it too and we do play that one occasionally here but I thought we'd go out with the XTC version of "Dear God".

AP: All right, spoil us.

NS: I will do that and thank you, Andy & Colin, so much for coming by.

AP: Thank you, it was a pleaszh.

CM: Thank you for having us.

NS: Channel 1-0-3-1 with XTC.

["Dear God" plays]

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[Thanks to John Keel]