Led by songwriters Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding , the band gained popularity during the rise of punk and new wave in the s, later playing in a variety of styles that ranged from angular guitar riffs to elaborately arranged pop. Partly because the group did not fit into contemporary trends, they achieved only sporadic commercial success in the UK and US, but attracted a considerable cult following.
They have since been recognised for their influence on Britpop and later power pop acts. Partridge guitar, vocals and Moulding bass, vocals met at a bar in the early s and subsequently formed a glam outfit with drummer Terry Chambers. The band's name and line-up changed frequently, and it was not until that they were known as XTC. In , the group debuted on Virgin Records and, for the next five years, were noted for their energetic live performances.
They aspired to be "completely original" and refused to play conventional punk rock, instead synthesising influences from ska , s pop, dub music and the avant-garde. Partridge, XTC's frontman and primary songwriter, insisted that the band was "blatantly just pop music. We were a new pop group.
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That's all. After 's English Settlement , the band stopped concert touring and became a studio-based project centred on Partridge, Moulding, and guitarist Dave Gregory. A spin-off group, the Dukes of Stratosphear , was invented as a one-off excursion into s-style psychedelia , but as XTC's music evolved, the distinctions between the two bands lessened.
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Due to poor management, they never received a share of profits from record sales, of which there were millions, nor from touring revenue, forcing them into debt throughout the s and s. In , they went on strike against Virgin, citing an unfair recording contract , and extricated themselves from the label sometime after. They had a total of 10 albums and 6 singles that reached the UK top 40,  including " Making Plans for Nigel " , " Sgt.
In the US, " Mayor of Simpleton " was their highest-charting single, while " Dear God " was controversial for its anti-religious message. The group also inspired tribute bands , tribute albums , fan conventions , and fanzines across the UK, US and Japan. In , Partridge announced that his creative partnership with Moulding had disintegrated, leaving XTC "in the past tense". Partridge and Gregory remain musically active. Partridge jokingly characterised the community as being populated almost entirely by people with physical, mental or emotional defects.
When the Monkees grew popular. He recalled watching local guitarist Dave Gregory performing Jimi Hendrix -style songs at churches and youth clubs: "Sort of acid - skiffle. I thought, 'Ah, one day I'll play guitar! I got really in deep. In , Partridge became closer acquainted with Gregory, a diabetic then suffering from a bout of depression ,  while working as an assistant at the Bon Marche record shop in Swindon.
That was a horrible misconception! It was decided that the band have another name change. I'm in ecstasy! Instead of a formal audition, the two went out drinking together. During the first band rehearsal, Partridge recalled, "He sounded like Jon Lord from Deep Purple ; fuzz box, wah wah pedal, bluesy runs. I said, You don't have to play like that, you can play like us if you want.
Ian Reid, owner of a Swindon club named The Affair, was their third manager  and brokered deals for the group to perform at more popular venues such as the Red Cow in Hammersmith , The Nashville Rooms and Islington 's Hope and Anchor. By this time, the punk rock movement had emerged, which opened an avenue for the group in terms of record label appeal, even though the band did not necessarily fit in the punk dogma. As soon as we recorded that session for the BBC, suddenly three or four record labels wanted to sign us up.
Partridge characterized the album as " Captain Beefheart meets the Archies " shrouded in s-style retrofuturism. He reflected that the album was the sum of everything the band enjoyed, including the Beatles, Sun Ra , and Atomic Rooster ,  but dismissed the contents as premature songs "built around this electric wordplay stuff". By August , XTC were prepared to record their next album.
Andrews appeared at the sessions with several original songs, but Partridge did not feel they were right for the band. He began taking Moulding and Chambers out for drinks without inviting Partridge, allegedly in an attempt to take over the group. After most of Andrews' songs were dropped from the final track list, the keyboardist told journalists that he foresaw the band "explod[ing] pretty soon". Andrews left the band in December , while they were on their first American tour,  and went on to form the League of Gentlemen with Robert Fripp of King Crimson.
We were bickering quite a lot. But when he left I thought, Oh shit, that's the sound of the band gone, this space-cream over everything.
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And I did enjoy his brain power, the verbal and mental fencing. Rather than hiring a replacement keyboardist, Dave Gregory of the covers band Dean Gabber and His Gaberdines was invited to join as a second guitarist. Partridge remembered holding a "pretend audition" where Gregory was asked to play "This Is Pop", only for Gregory to inquire whether they wanted the album version or the single version: "We thought, 'Bloody oh, a real musician.
But the fans weren't bothered. Nobody was fashionable in XTC, ever. XTC were impressed by Steve Lillywhite 's work on Ultravox 's debut ,  and Siouxsie and the Banshees The Scream ,  and he was contacted to produce their third album with a drum sound that would "knock your head off".
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Moulding explained that this was because of an industry convention in the s and the s, and that when "we wanted to shift albums later on, that approach got blown out of the water. Drums and Wires , released in August , was named for its emphasis on guitars and expansive drums. The aimless energy of the first two albums is focused into a cohesive statement with a distinctive voice that retains their clever humor, quirky wordplay, and decidedly British flavor. When touring resumed in November, every date was sold out.
It was their lowest-selling single to date. Black Sea , released in September , reunited the group with Lillywhite and Padgham and was well-received critically. Rock Is Going to Help Me " returned them to the charts at numbers 32, 31 and 16, respectively. Rock" provoked feminist hate-mail for the lyric "keep her stood in line".
Partridge regretted the song, calling it "crass but not enjoyably crass". At this point, they were playing in arena stadiums while Partridge's mental state was beginning to deteriorate, and he requested to cease touring, but was opposed by Virgin, his bandmates, and the band's management. XTC became their own producers for their next album project. The group scheduled television appearances and an international tour in support of English Settlement.
During a live-broadcast gig in Paris, Partridge ran off the stage, and afterward, took a flight back to Swindon for treatment, which amounted to hypnotherapy. He described feeling nausea and stomach pains while on stage: "My body and brain said, You're hating this experience I'm going to make it bad for you. When you go on stage I'm going to give you panic attacks and stomach cramps. You're not enjoying this and you haven't got the heart to tell anyone you can't carry on so I'm gonna mess you up. Gregory said that they were "totally unrehearsed" during the performance because "we'd not played together for two weeks.
It was obvious that he was ill, but exactly what it was, no-one knew. On 4 April , XTC were scheduled to play a sold-out show at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, Partridge woke up that morning, he said, and "couldn't get off the bed. My legs wouldn't function. Walked to Ben Frank's coffee shop, where we'd all agreed to meet, in slow motion like I had both legs in plaster, trying not to throw up. I got in there, they knew what I was going to say. He continued his hypnotherapy treatment, fearing that he was turning into the archetypal rock burn-out such as Syd Barrett. They tried distancing themselves from Reid by renegotiating their contract with Virgin.
Six more albums were promised to the label in exchange for covering their debts, as well as a guarantee that subsequent royalty and advancement cheques be redirected into the band's own deposit account. Usually if a manager has got any kind of business acumen he will renegotiate the contract to get a better royalty.
A record company expects this, which is why they keep royalties low initially. It's just business really. Nobody addressed the contract for XTC.