Miscellaneous Articles about XTC

University Radio, Bath


Andy Partridge interviewed on University Radio Bath, 1980.

This is an excerpt from the forthcoming CD release on This Is Pop.

Catalogue Number TIPCD 1. Release date early 2001.

The interview was conducted by Steve Auger.

Steve Auger: ...Steve Lillywhite has been your producer for a lot of your material.

Andy Partridge: The last two albums and a couple of singles. Before him we used John Leckie...and I'm speaking through the biscuit now (Andy is trying to consume tea and biscuits throughout the interview!). Before him we used John Leckie, who was recommended to us by Bill Nelson, Be Bop Deluxe, he did some work with them, and we've also used one offs like Phil Wainman, who was the Sweet's producer. He did 'Wait Till Your Boat Goes Down' which was my favourite of all the tracks and the least favourite with the public, because nobody bought it.

SA: I bought it!

AP: Good man!

SA: Can I ask you how important you think that the choice of producer is to the final outcome of the record? How much is it XTC or the effect of the producer?

AP: I think 90% us. We never let producers make any structural changes to our music. We only give them the music and they then mix it, usually under our supervision as well. So it's a bit rotten on a producer who gets involved with us because we tend to loom over them all the time. I'd personally like to mix them but it would be wrong to impose my taste totally on the band so we get a producer in as mediator or like a sifter - we throw all the ideas in and he has to sift them out and stop us from fighting with eachother and biting eachother on the leg and things like that, 'cause we have a lot of ideas and they do need sifting.

SA: Do you think of yourselves at all as a particularly LP oriented band as some groups are?

AP: Mmm... wierd question. Yeah, sort of. I'm pouring another cup here, playing Mummy, trying to get the atmosphere right. I suggest anyone listening to this should make themselves a cup of tea and just get the flavour of things going...

SA: This interview does sound particularly good over a cup of tea...

AP: Right! No, I'd say equally a singles and album band. I think our albums are more important 'cause they've made far more inroads than our singles have, especially in other countries. I do like singles and I'd like to think that our albums are composed of potential single material - you know, all the tracks could be singles. That's why we tend to work within a three minute, four minute framework.

SA: Somebody said that the songs that you write you don't write them to be particularly difficult to understand or deep, and yet somehow people would say that they seem to come out that way, not immediately appreciable..

AP: We never build a song for a purpose. The only time we ever did anything on purpose was quite an innocent thing, an electric re-recording of "Ten Feet Tall" for the American charts. But we never do anything on purpose, we just write whatever comes out and rehearse it the way that it just falls out. Nobody's told what to play, everybody plays exactly what they want to and we never sit down and try and make things difficult to understand or easy to understand, we just do them as they come out. Certain songs demand certain treatments and they seem to scream it when you rehearsing it. They say 'Do me like this! Do me like this!' and there's no other way that you can mess around with them. So we just try to do things as naturally as we can. It's just our personalities.

SA: There's one song in particular that mainly for my own interest I'd like to ask you what the idea is behind it. That's the last track on Black Sea - "Travels In Nihilon".

AP: "Travels In Nihilon", originally a book title by Alan 'Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner' Sillitoe. It's nothing to do with the book title, it's just a great title. Nihilon means state of nothingness if your thumbing through your dictionary right now. Its about how the media basically fox young people into believing that the latest trend is going to save them or what have you..gonna be the saving grace, it's gonna pick rock 'n' roll up, it's gonna make pop music 'it', you know...you must be a mod, you must be a punk, you must be a hippy, you must be a pirate...all of those trends. And people do get serious about them. And I know I got serious about them when I was younger. I think the last thing that I got demi-serious about was punk. After all it's only another media game. The sell you all the items, they sell you the records and you will buy it. And the younger you are the more your judgement is fogged by the fact that you think that you're finding something ultimate and you're not. And it happens every so years the media finds something they want to sell to you, and it's not really about that at all. It's about music basically, a lot of it revolves around music and "Travels In Nihilon" is about how people are continually japed into believing that there's something to believe in ... and there's not. It's just music and it always will be music, and they shouldn't try and sell you these funny things that have nothing to do with music.

SA: How do you feel that your music has progressed in the time that you've been together?

AP: It's got simpler. We never play anything complicated. Good Grief! These biscuits have got instructions written on the back in Arabic. Have you seen this? Arabs obviously eat a lot of Golden Crunch. Um, we never did play anything complicated. If anybody out there says 'Oh, come off it. I can't work your chords out' and all that well, they're very, very easy because we're very lazy people. We tend to play things that are drastically stupid to play. I mean they're just throw your hands on a guitar and they come out like that. We are getting simpler, dropping more things out of the music...easier rhythms. It's like the pieces of a clock, everybody plays a simple, unornate piece but the way that they fit together it keeps the motion going.

SA: I think it was on BBC2. There was a TV programme showing the making of "Towers Of London". Now that's pretty unusual, I've never seen that done for a band before. How did that come about?

AP: It was actually BBC Brest....Bristol...West. BBC Breast I nearly said. Yes, BBC Breast 'phoned us up, because they quite like us - heaven knows why - but they 'phoned us up and said 'Look, are you going to be making a new record soon' and we said 'Yes, we're just starting our new L.P.', which was Black Sea, at the time. And they said 'Can we come and film it?' and we said 'Well, yeah, sure. Just drop by and have a look at what it's all about'.....

Copyright © Darryl W Bullock 1991, 1999

Swindon Evening Advertiser
Thursday 28 February 1980


Swindon's a gritty place say Pop Four

Swindon's globe-trotting rock band XTC are attacking their home town from far-away New York. The band are currently touring the States, where they told the press of the apathy, hatred and resentment Swindonians allegedly feel for them.

In an article syndicated for American newspapers, bass player Colin Moulding said "The last time we played Swindon it was really apathetic. There's a basic hatred for us there." He was speaking of a Christmas show at the Brunel Rooms which sold out within days and in which the band were shouted back for a brace of encores.

Guitarist Andy Partridge was quoted as saying: "The people in Swindon resent us because we got out of the place, and they are still stuck there."


Andy, who has just released a solo album of studio recording experiments, described Swindon as "a gritty little concrete industrial blob". Speaking about the hostility they encountered when the group first "made it" to London, he said "If you come from Swindon you're a stupid hayseed. They treated us like dumb country boys trying to be clever."

The group are in the States on a lengthy tour promoting their latest album Drums and Wires, which was recently released there. A single, Ten Feet Tall, written by Moulding, has also just been issued.


Something to shout about?

Pop group XTC have been shouting their mouths off about the town their origin in an American newspaper, the Tribune. According to songwriter Andy Partridge, Swindon is "a gritty (possibly an error of transcription) little concrete industrial blob". Motive for the attack appears at the end of the article by newspaper columnist Rolling Stone. "There's a basic hatred for us there. The people in Swindon resent us because we got out."

So there we have it. Swindon doesn't do the boys enough homage to fit their standing. Shame!

But is it true? Along with a number of other famous sons and daughters, Swindon has followed the boys" career with more than a little interest. If we're not all shouting that they're the greatest, it has probably got more to do with personal taste and opinion than prejudice.

The lads have come a long way over the last decade and should have outgrown the temptation to be petty. As far as Swindon's concerned, all of us here in this gritty little industrial blob will wish the group all the best for the future.

We may be growing up, but at least we're mature to that extent.

[Thanks to JP Nicholls]

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11 November 2014