May 2000

 Listening Room on 

XTC in association with TVT Records Presents:
On Their Latest Release Wasp Star: Apple Venus Vol. II
CD in stores now!

Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding paced the rise of alternative music with songs like "Dear God" and "Mayor of Simpleton." For over 25 years, XTC, has been creating uniquely uncategorizable pop music. Their newest release, Wasp Star: Apple Venus Volume 2 is a true XTC record -- bright as sunshine and crisp as rain with a wide range of textures. Top to bottom this is a pop masterpiece that will stagger fans and signal the return of XTC.

XTC appears Courtesy of TVT Records.

Visit XTC's Official Website.

Click HERE to purchase your copy of Wasp Star: Apple Venus Vol. II online.

Andy And Colin "Ring Us Up" Below To Talk About Wasp Star
Wasp Star
Wasp Star: Apple Venus Vol II

Andy speaks about the album title...

Andy: Originally we were going to do do a double disc box. All the time that we were on strike from Virgin we were writing and compiling stuff so the day we got the record deal and could get this material out to the public. and i thought well it would be great to reappear in the public consciousness with hopefully quality and quantity so what would be wrong with doing a 2 cd set and the original title was going to be The History of the Middle Ages. because we were middle aged men so our recent history over the previous few years, all the stuff we'd been through. But Dave Gregory, who was in the band at the time, was absolutely adamant that he would not allow the album to be called that because he's got a real problem about aging. We're all in our forties, we're all in our mid-forties, I'm 46 right now. He's got this real thing about aging and getting old and part of his problem with the world is, I think, he thinks his youth has been somehow taken away from him. And he said, "I forbid you to call it... I'm not a middle aged man." He's a year older than me. "I am not a middle aged man. I will not have people thinking I'm middle aged." Except well, we're all getting on a bit. You're balding, I'm getting chubby and blah blah. He just wouldn't have it, he's eternally 16.

So I dropped that title and I began to think about the fan thing. About they've got this idea that we choose our album titles by raiding a previous lyric from a previous album. Which is untrue. I can see where they got the idea from coincidentally. They think that Oranges and Lemons came from "Orange and lemon raincoats roll and tumble, which is from "Ballet From A Rainy Day" from Skylarking. They think that Nonsuch came from a line in "Chalkhills and Children" on Oranges and Lemons which was "some nonesuch net holds me aloft". Again just purely coincidence. And so I thought, well, maybe we'll beat them at their own game. We actually will rob some words from a previous record. So I looked at the lyrics on Nonsuch and the phrase "apple venus" is in "Then She Appeared": "Some apple venus on a half open shell". It was just sort of an expression for a beautiful woman. I thought yeah, the phrase "apple venus" kind of fits the feminine curvaceousness of these orchestral arrangements and stuff. So I'm going to use this. And Wasp Star came along because i just didn't want to call it Apple Venus Volume 2, because it was a little lame and a little confusing. And I had a book of Aztec art. While we were mixing the record I bought this book of Aztec art, and found in there the Aztecs' phrase for Venus which was "wasp star". So that's what the Aztecs called Venus. And I thought, well, that's a nice kind of little string to tie into Apple Venus. But they're two lovely combinations of words. "Apple venus" is a nice combination of words. It doesn't particularly mean anything although it paints these nice pictures. And "wasp star" is two fantastic words together that I never would have put together! But as I say it's the Aztec phrase for Venus.

Andy & Colin on Collaborating...

Andy: We're more collaborators in terms of it's a kind of, what's the word? Like a conspiracy, or something, of two, that we help get each other's songs to the public. We only collaborate in terms of suggestions in the studio for the last minute, if there are any unknown corners in a song. I like to work more or less everything, 90 percent of everything, in the demo stage because i think the idea of being in the studio and not knowing what to do with the clock ticking away... So I tend to work my stuff out. Colin's more open, he's more open to suggestions. We tend to sort of suggest each other the pieces, in the studio. So I might say why don't you try so and so and so and so there? Or why don't you try this instrument? Or don't you think that could be chopped down? That section gets a bit long there. Stuff like that. Most of it's worked out but there's still that, the unknown factor, when you get in the studio, that we kick in for each other, I suppose. He'll suggest stuff for my songs and vice versa. So not collaborators at all, not really.

Right. Keep very much to our own paths that go out under the XTC banner, so to speak.

Colin: It's like the same magic in records, and that's important. Like that undefinable quality that you can find in a lot of Beach Boys records, and a lot of Beatles records, a lot of Kinks records. A certain magic that conjures up a scene, a story. What is it? We don't know, we don't know what it is, but it's a kind of magic that we are chasing as well.

Colin discusses his inspiration for "Boarded Up"...

Colin: I should say that the song is really the first little bit that I wrote after Nonsuch. Kind of a little tester to get me going again.

It's about Swindon. I wanted to get that kind of ghost town feel about it. An atmosphere. It's not strictly a song in the everyday, what we all thing of a song. It's a slice of atmosphere really, with lyrics laid on the top. I just tried getting the intention, it's "getting" really, because I perhaps would have liked it to have been kind of tail end of side two as regards the album.

I kind of wanted this ghost towny type feel as if you're walking through a desert and you come across a western town or something. Treading on boards with the saloon or something, swinging doors. I mean it sounds a real big cliché and it is. I thought it was really good analogy for an English town, although obviously the atmosphere it's kind of started on is slightly American. But I thought there was a similarity between the two.

Swindon is a town in decline. It's my home town, and I don't like running it down too much. But it is a town that's culturally bypassed. It's a town that nobody likes coming to. It's become a bit of a joke town, actually. People mention it on TV all the time. All Swindon and all the roads go through there. Let's try to bypass Swindon. It's mentioned on TV a lot as being kind of a joke town. It's become that over the last 20 years. Bands don't like to go there nor do plays, people travelling around with plays, poetry recitals and all the rest, whatever side of the entertainment business you care to mention. People don't really like coming to Swindon because Swindon is town that does not place arts as a priority. It's way down the list.

Andy & Colin on Themselves, Music and Writing...

Andy: Well, I'm probably "Wasp". I'm the sort of loud annoying one and Colin, he's the Leo. He won't carry his own bags, you know. It's up to other people to carry the bags for him. So he's a real Leo. He'd be under "Star". I'd be under "Wasp". I'm that kind of annoying thing that would throw itself in your beer on a summer afternoon.

And likewise he'd probably be "Venus". But he may be "Apple" actually. I might be "Venus". It's my tits that do it. I've got to eat less when I get home from America. The proportions over here are fantastic.

Colin: I think unless you're personal you don't really communicate. You have to write from a personal perspective, I think. Certainly from my point of view, I've failed miserably on the occasions when I tried to write on more abstract things, more worldly things, if you like, more philosophical things.

I much prefer writing about domestic, families and things connected with the home. Feel on much firmer ground when you're writing about your own domain. If you write from a personal perspective you won't be found out. You'll connect all the more, I think, with people. We all have the same type of feelings. We all feel the same at certain times in our lives. Writing personally is a good thing, I think.

Andy & Colin on Making Records but Not Playing Live...

Andy: I think we probably have a similar love of making records. We really like the process of making a record. Writing songs, recording those, and then making an album and it being in your hand in a package. That's the whole art form. Neither of us are very keen on live performance and we don't think we're that good at it. So for us the art is writing that song, recording that song, making that album. Closing it, you know. That's like the finished art object. That's like the sculpture or the painting, sure, the book, the play! That's the finished art thing. The finished art thing for us isn't being a rock and roll star or being up on stage and doing endless gigs and parties and blah blah. Some people, being the rock and roll lifestyle star type thing, that's some people's art form, I guess. That's how they express themselves. We don't. We are totally in love with the idea of making records.

Colin: The decision was kind of wrestled from me a bit, all those years ago. Andy got rather ill, his stage fright got to the point to where he just couldn't function. I remember thinking, well, if we don't tour, what's going to happen afterwards? What's going to happen? I thought, that's what bands do. Part of the curriculum, I thought. I thought you had to do it for the band to survive, but from the necessity side of it. But, thinking about it, I thought, well, do I enjoy it personally? I thought we were always very nervous, actually, not natural performers, the four of us. Always hit and run type, glad to get it over with. I think you have to have a modicum of showbiz about you to make a good live show. Talk to the audience. We were never very good talkers to the audience, which you have to be to get the bond going, I think. It's difficult. It was a kind of a relief in a way. I thought, well, thank God I don't have to do that again. So it didn't come as a hardship to me, but I kind of feared for the future a little. Because I thought that's what was supposed to happen to bands, that they had to perform live. I didn't know how the mechanics was going to work out. I was kind of relieved but I had reservations, you know.

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