May 2003
interview by Ian C Stewart

What's up with your recent tour, will there be more of this kind of thing in the near future?
Decided to remount the filthy mare of live performance and give her a bit of spin round the paddock. Back in the US April, coast to shining coast.

Is there anything you're feeling particularly mouthy about at the moment?
This filthy fucking war which our masters are attempting to foist on us. Particularly the deceit that itís all about Saddamís weapons when itís so obviously an Imperial Adventure about oil and land and US hegemony. How stupid do they think we are? And the incredible arrogance with which Bush and (particularly) Blair are willing to disregard the views of the people who (arguably) elected them.

Who are your biggest musical influences and why?
Lee Perry, Beethoven, Patti Smith, Alex Harvey, old musicals, English music hall, Gilbert and Sullivan, Eno, The Clash, Vaughan Williams, Tom Waits

What were your early musical influences
The old 78s stashed in the attic. "Shifting Whispering Sands," "The Kids Last Fight," "Indian Love Call" "The Sheik of Araby," my granddad playing piano, my mum singing.

What made you decide to start making music of your own?
It seemed like the best thing anyone could possibly, possibly do.

How do your songs come to be?
"Songs are feelings sung out with the breath when usual speech will not suffice" - Eskimo saying.

"Little biospheres, planets which only need obey their own laws and where perhaps life can be lived more gorgeously than we are used to." - Barry saying.

How is the current label situation working out?
Donít have one and itís kind of freeing. Pure cottage industry. And I get to keep all the money.

Will there be a DVD of your stuff?
There will be a DVD of the piano show from the gig in Philly in January. Soon. I think.

What's the strangest recording session you've been part of?
Probably the Restaurant for Dogs sessions -Carlo singing in Aramaic slang, Danny Crilly speed-ranting about global, paranoid this that and the other, a couple of girls - infant school teachers - trying to sing. One of them ending up throwing up from an excess of emotion and wine, Dave Marx and Kev Wilkinson rebelling by playing really complicated fast stuff which no one could keep up with, me writing songs on biscuit barrels and rejecting anything which smacked of conventional musicality, that sort of thing. Valuable. And stressful.

Where are your biggest markets?
Right now I really just canít say.

What's the biggest audience you've played to?
About seventeen thousand with Simple Minds.

Where's your favorite place to play live?
Rammed up against the bulging pudenda of the ineluctable Now.

Please tell an amusing XTC anecdote. Pretty please. I'll be your best friend.
Err, memory recedes into the slurry of time. Losing... consciousnessÖ Unnhhgh.

I've heard Andy Partridge's angle of ďthe keyboard player showing up for a tour with only a saxophone,Ē story, would you care to share your side?
Sax is a cooler instrument innit? Obvious.

And I can't help but ask your opinion of XTC's music now. So: what is your opinion of XTC's music now?
I think theyíre great at being XTC, which I can recognize is a good thing. But itís not, and I fear never has been, my thing.

Do you have obsessive fans or is it not that big of a deal?
No one more obsessive than me probably. I think one of the benefits of age is that one becomes compassionate to weirdos other than oneself.

What do you think about the current state of music in general - is it better or worse now (or the same)?
Same as what?

Are there any other bands you're excited by?
I think Lemon Jelly albumís rather lovely and ingenious, I enjoyed the sexy Strokes, Nick Caveís always a delight, ClearLake are beautifully English and melancholy, The Libertines are fine young hooligans, and I admire greatly The Veils for whom genius is not too strong a word.

How has the internet affected you?
Itís made it possible to establish connections with all manner of people who got affected by my work. Itís a great thing when you hear the testimony of someone who got vibed up by oneís music, say, in the woodwork class in Arkansas in 1984. Gives me a feeling of omniprescence. Which is one of my favourite feelings.

Are there any music people you'd like to collaborate with?
The lads from Shriekback. No, Iím serious.

What's next for you, musically speaking?
Remember where you read it first: STIC BASIN. A fat-bellied low-down full-fat kind of music which Iíll be touring in parallel to the piano stuff in April. And another, more electronic solo album coming out later this year.

How many interviews have you ever done?
Fucking loads mate.

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