new XTC doc ‘This is Pop’ airing now on Showtime; Colin Moulding & Terry Chambers release new EP
Beloved UK band XTC, who went from hyper post-punk new wavers to pastor orch-pop perfectionists, are the subject of a new documentary, XTC: This Is Pop, which just premiered on Showtime. It follows their late-’70s beginnings through Andy Partridge‘s early-’80s breakdown with stagefright that saw them never tour again, through their difficult collaboration with Todd Rundgren that gave us 1986’s wonderful Skylarking, and beyond. In addition to new interviews with chief songwriters Partridge and Colin Moulding, they also talk to guitarist Dave Gregory, drummer Terry Chambers, as well as producer John Leckie (who worked on White Music, Go2 and the Dukes of Stratosphear records), plus fans Stewart Copeland (The Police), Clem Burke (Blondie), John Grant, Harry Shearer (Spinal Tap, The Simpsons), Miles Kane (Last Shadow Puppets), and more. At just over an hour, it’s probably not in-depth enough for big fans but for everyone else it’s a great look at one of the best bands of the last 40 years. It’s streaming on Showtime on-demand and Showtime Now, and you can watch a trailer for This is Pop below.
Meanwhile, Colin Moulding and Terry Chambers just released an EP as TC&I, which marks the first time they’d worked together in 30+ years, and is also the first new music from Moulding since XTC’s 2000 album Wasp Star. (Moulding wrote many of XTC’s best songs, including “Making Plans for Nigel,” “Life Begins at the Hop,” “Generals and Majors,” and “Grass.”) The EP is called Great Aspirations, and Moulding talked to Billboard about its genesis:
XTC fizzled out in about 2006. We decided we weren’t going to make another record because I think it had run its course. We’d had a pretty good run up until then. Both Andy and I decided to call it a day. There was no official announcement but it was a natural thing just to give it up really. But something that’s been a big part of your life for so long, it takes a bit of getting used to. It’s almost like going through a divorce, I suppose. I think for two years I just watched TV! I was coming down off a huge hangover, I think. Then slowly I started to get back into it. Somebody contacted me from Los Angeles, a guy called Billy Sherwood. He now plays bass for Yes, I think. He was in-house producer for Cleopatra Records and said, “Would I do some singing on some projects?” I said, “I’m not doing anything at the moment so I may as well.” That went okay so he kept asking me back. Mainly it’s to do prog rock sessions with people like Rick Wakeman, Geoff Downes and all these sort of guys. So, I thought, well, prog rock’s not really my bag, but I’ll give it a shot. That was the story for a few years until Terry turned up back in the country. We went out together and got very drunk. I said, “Well, I’m messing about with a few songs of mine. Do you fancy having a go?” And then things began to take on solid purpose.
The official single is “Scatter Me,” which pics up where Moulding left off with Wasp Star, and it’s great to hear Terry behind the kit again. Watch the video below and you can order the EP from Burning Shed.
As for an XTC reunion, Moulding says “Never say never,” though it seems unlikely. One can hope.