THE AGONY AND THE XTC
Riding in high on the coat tails of punk with raging stabs of Elictricity like ‘Science Friction’ and ‘Life Begins at the Hop’ XTC were the greatest new wave band in the world in 1981. Then it all kind of went pear shaped. Heres the facts….
• A New Wave band from the bright lights of Swindon, they formed in 1972.
• They started out as The Helium Kidz with Andy Partridge (guitars, vocals) and Colin Moulding (bass, vocals) playing glam-rock with homemade costumes.
• Terry Chambers (drums) and Barry Andrews (keyboards) joined in 1976, and they changed the name of the band to XTC while deciding on a hyperactice pop-punk style.
• They toyed with the name The Dukes of Stratosphear, but dismissed it because it was too psychedelic(they later released an album under this name too!).
• Lead single ‘Statue of Liberty’ from their first LP White Music was banned by the BBC for making lewd references to the statue – i.e. “in my fantasies I sail beneath your skirt.”
• Andy Partridge (guitars and vocals) has a lifelong obsession with comic books, particularly by Steve Ditko.
• LP Go 2 was released in 1978, and shortly afterwards Andrews was replaced by new keyboardist Dave Gregory.
• In their 1980 video for ‘Generals and Majors’ Sir Richard Branson makes a cameo as one of the majors. He was their record label boss at Virgin.
• In 1981 XTC toured the US, supported by some small local band called REM that you may have heard of…
• Partridge suffered a mental breakdown on stage in one of the first concerts of XTC’s tour in Paris, on March 18th 1982, reportedly because his wife threw away his Valium supply.
• Partridge then called a halt to the touring, which royally pissed off the Virgin execs. He responded by saying "Why should I work at something I don’t enjoy? If I’m going to do that, I might as well shovel shit for a living."
• The band then moved into the studio and stopped touring, which many thought was commercial suicide – particularly the folk at Virgin.
• Chambers had enough of the studio called it quits during the recording of Mummer in 1983 and moved to Australia. Since then six different drummers have played on XTC’s subsequent album releases.
• In late 1984 they began a side project. Dressing themselves in paisley shirts they recorded a mini album called 25 O’clock under the name The Dukes of Stratosphear. It was a success.
• Things still weren’t so peachy with Virgin so the band went on strike, playing and producing for other bands. They set up their own label Idea Records in 1997.
• Partridge formed his own label, APE, under which he has released his own demos and tracks underneath the nameplate of Fuzzy Warbles.
• While XTC have not announced a formal break-up, in 2006 Partridge announced that the only other remaining member of XTC, Colin Moulding, was no longer interested in writing, performing or recording music.