XTC in the Press: 1996

Interview with Andy Partridge concerning No Talking, Just Head, 1996

Q: As far as the old band goes, what is your favourite Talking Heads song?

A: Don't Worry About The Government

Q: All of their album covers were great. Do you have a favourite?

A: Fear of music.

Q: How did you meet Chris, Tina and Jerry?

A: I met them in the late seventies. Our bands toured Europe together. Then, after nearly twenty years of life happening to us, Chris Frantz rings me up. Bingo, Bango, Bongo!

Q: How has creating lyrics and vocals to the Heads' backing tracks differed from your usual creative process?

A: Usually, I grow songs, music and lyrics together organically. With them it was more like crucifying bits of heretical poetry onto an already extant cross.

Q: What inspired the lyrics?

A: Litter/love gone wrong/bitternerness/big band swing/too much knowledge.

Q: Which dead format should No Talking, Just Head be released on?

A: A 16 RPM LP wwith a holograph of an overburdened donkey looking out of an old hat. One of those old postcard records with the grooves pressed onto the varnish, cut into a shamrock.

Q: Any suggestions for design and placement of the pricecode?

A: Add a disclaimer below it, "Warning! This record contains an Englishman whistling!"

Q: If this album were a boardgame, which age groups would you suggest?

A: It would be the equivalent of nude Twister for those of 350 lbs. or older.

Alternative Press

100 Underground Inspirations of the Past 20 Years

Andy Partridge just wanted to be David Johansen. Instead, he would up fronting one of the new wave's most beloved and respected bands. Their truimphant trio of mid-career gems - Drums and Wires, Black Sea and the sprawling, brilliant English Settlement - crackled with sarcasm and nervous energy. Detonated by an explosive ska beat, XTC's irresistible melodies taught a lesson long forgotten: Pop could be smart, cool and kick your ass, all in the same three-minute song. Partridge's 1980 collapse in Paris killed their touring career (and, some argue, their muse), but it didn't matter. They'd proved their point.

Suggested Listening:
Drums and Wires (Virgin, 1979) English Settlement (Virgin, 1982)

Nº 352
Late 1996
Interview by Stan Cuesta

Andy: We've been on strike for 4 years. Because we were totally frustrated with the situation with (he lowers his voice) Virgin. At the end of these 4 years, they were so embarrassed that they could only let us go. No band had ever done that to them.

Rock&Folk: What happened?

A: We've never earned money for 18 years! It made me laugh when as a kid I read that the Who had had debts for 11 years: I thought they were broke up because they broke their stuff during each concert. . . But we never broke anything! According to some estimations, we would have made Virgin earn 30 million pounds. But I live in a tiny house and I've got no money in a bank. Here are some indications. . . The only way to let us go was to make this compilation ("Fossil Fuel"). Besides, it is essential, cos the former ones have been wiped out of the catalogue.

RF: Which enables us to a look back to XTC's career. What memory do you keep of the first albums, WM and Go2?

A: We had asked Eno to produce Go2, because he had said that we were the only band he felt like joining since Roxy Music. . . He denied, saying we didn't need him. So we made "sub-Eno". . .

RF: B Andrews' departure just after that?

A: He suffered from my gentle dictature. . . Andy Gregory, the best musician I know, replaced him.

RF: In 1979 is published D&W, with famous "Making Plans". It's your only album in Rock&Folk's "300 unavoidable ones".

A: I suppose we were number 300. . . Maybe 299?

RF: Black Sea, 1980, is very similar, isn't it?

A: All these albums were OK, but we had to write them in a few weeks, on the road. BS shows exactly what we used to do on stage.

RF: In 1982, after English Settlement, the world tour ends at the Palace after 5 minutes. We still haven't well understood why. . .

A: I stopped because I had a huge fear which made me physically ill. Of course, seen from the money point of view, it's hard. We have had big offers to tour in the USA. I could be a millionaire. . . In fact, we'been touring for 5 years without stopping. If we had gone on, the group would have been disintegrated. The others have understood and accepted my decision, even though it grieved them. Well I'm talking about Colin and Dave, because Terry was furious: he wanted to tour till the end, to go around the world, he was like a kid whose toy would have been stolen. Drummers. . . Do you know the difference between a drummer and a beat box? In the box, you enter the data only once! And what is the meaning of the word "drummer"? It's a lad who slacks around with musicians! And how do you know that a drummer is knocking on your door? The beat slows down in the end!

[. . .] RF: Because of your fame in the USA, you accept in '89 an acoustic radio tour, without an audience. Quite an original idea for the times. . .

A: We've virtually invented the "Unplugged" concept. I'm deeply sorry about it. It's our own war crime. (He howls) But we were only following the orders! [. . .]

RF: Who do you dream of working with?

A: It's gonne seem very pretentious, but I'd like to. . . help Ray Davies. I have a feeling he's somewhat drifting away. It's a childhood dream, he's been a hero to us, and it would be a disaster, I'de be there: "Uncle Ray, uncle Ray. . .".

RF: Talking about it, wouldn't you be the missing link between the Kinks and this so-called Britpop: Blur and others?

A: To be right with Blur, I'd say that among all these bands which sound like us, they're the only ones who have openly declared that they liked us. Opposite to the Americans who admit it often (Jellyfish, Posies, Nine Inch Nails. . .), the English would rather die than tell that they admire us. We're so ordinary. . . Moreover, we dare to smile. English bands would rather cut one of their arms off than being seen smiling. . .

[Thanks to French Martin]

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25 September 2016