Miscellaneous XTC Press Clippings: 2015

Classic Pop
January 20, 2015

Godfathers of Pop

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Despite his fame and influence, he is one of pop music's most elusive figures, both personally and in trying to analyse his work. And even by his own standards, former XTC frontman, guitarist and chief songwriter Andy Partridge has been pretty quiet since the final part of his nine-album Fuzzy Warbles series was released in 2006. But here he breaks his silence to talk to Classic Pop about his new band, The Clubmen.

You won the Classic Songwriter prize at the Q Magazine Awards recently. What else has been keeping you busy?

I'm working on my failed songwriter career for other people. Most recently, that was for Sarah Brightman, but she doesn't like my songs, so sod her. Other musicians are hopefully more receptive.

Is there any of your own new music on the horizon? It's been a few years since Fuzzy Warbles came to its epic conclusion

I'm making an album with my friends Stu Rowe and Jen Olive for our band, The Clubmen. We're named after the Wiltshire – and other West Country – folk who held no truck with either side in the English Civil War. They attacked both sides, which somehow feels opposite. We're two men and a woman, but The Clubmen it is. You can't change historical references willy-nilly.

Tell us about your bandmates...

I've worked with Stu a lot. He helped me produce Peter Blegvad's album Gonwards two years ago and being in a band with him is a happy extension of that. Stu was the guitarist in Future Sound of London, so he's got a great pedigree. Although I'm not sure if ‘pedigree’ is the right word, as that makes Stu sound like a golden retriever. My record label, Apehouse, has released Jen's last three albums, and I've been lucky enough to play on them too. Although Jen lives in Albuquerque, we're able to make great music together. That's the joy of the internet age, that three people can be on different continents and still be in a band. And more importantly be able to make music together, often strange music, where we can communicate instantaneously. Any differences are geographical, not musical.

You haven't played live since 1982. Is there any chance The Clubmen would change that?

I'm afraid not, sorry. Our music wouldn't work in concert. It's built using studio techniques, so it's improvised and heavily edited. The songs are very odd, very unusual. It's very dreamlike. I think it's disco pop in a dream, and when you hear it, you'll go, ‘Ah, now I get what he's saying.’ It's not classic songwriting, it's throwing stuff around like Jackson Pollock. Or like Jackson Pollock would if he'd been around in the disco era and seen our studio set-up.

Is that new way of working a relief, as someone who's known for trying to write classic songs?

It's very enjoyable, yes. But traditional pop songs are great, too. The feeling you get when you finish writing a pop song is almost indescribable. It gives you a vibe up the spine, every time.

You co-wrote three songs with Miles Kane on his last album Don't Forget Who You Are in 2013. Would you be interested in working with him again?

I'd be delighted to. Miles is touring his arse off at the moment, but when he needs a new arse I've no doubt he'll give me a ring. Well, he's got my number, so I hope he will. He's a good man, Miles, a fine songwriter with his head screwed on. He takes his songwriting very seriously, but himself less so and that's the right way round.

Who else would you want to write with now?

I met a few people at the Q Awards, actually. That was a productive day out from Swindon. I had an especially nice meeting with St Vincent, so who knows what might happen there?

How did it feel to be recognised for your songwriting?

How did it feel? I can tell you how the award feels: bloody heavy. It looks like the kind of trophy that should be able to be plugged in and sit there thrumming powerfully to itself.

Could you be persuaded to make more music with XTC?

No, not really. We had a long and glorious run, but it was time for all of that to be put to bed

John Earls

[Thanks to Ben Gott]

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