Genius of Pop

XTC's Andy Partridge unearths his musical treasure-trove

He's certainly not, one hopes — but in case he is, the Partridge musical lineage lives on through his daughter, Holly, who plays guitar and sings in a power-pop-meets-Motown band called the SheBeats. Unlike other famous progeny of musicians, though, there's no Svengali action on Partridge's part or sharing of songwriting secrets.

"I didn't teach her how to write any of this stuff — and to be truthful, I didn't really even know she could play the guitar," he says. "The first few songs she's written in her life, they're better than the stuff that was on the first XTC album, for chrissake! She just sprang fully formed from my head, like a Greek myth."

Partridge is equally self-deprecating about XTC's seemingly rising influence on modern U.K. bands, many of whom appear fond of copping XTC's herky-jerky rhythms and askew melodies. He says journalists are the ones placing those influences upon new bands, because XTC still gets no respect in its home country.

Andy Partridge: Making plans for Nigel, earning enough for us. The man does it all.
Andy Partridge: Making plans for Nigel, earning enough for us. The man does it all.

"Even now, young English bands will admit openly, 'Oh, we're very influenced by Gang of Four, oh, we're really influenced by Wire,'" Partridge says. "But not one of them will openly admit they're influenced by XTC. We're still too uncool [for them] to say that they'll admit to sounding like us. But you know they damned well do."

In fact, he admits to being jealous of R.E.M. and the Talking Heads in the 1980s, since both groups were considered somehow more "authentic" because they were American — whereas the Swindon-formed XTC was "working-class scum from the projects of the joke town of England.

"We're much more appreciated in America than we were in England," he says. "In England, we were considered this joke group. That was rather tough for us."

Suffering the effects of this today clearly frustrates Partridge. But it's something he's unfortunately used to (if not resigned to) after more than 30 years. And while it's more than a little criminal that Partridge doesn't get enough respect, he does have his music, his guitars, his racing mind — and, perhaps most important, balance.

"I'm not rich, but I'm occasionally happy, and I think that's the best you can hope for," Partridge says. "I think anyone who's happy all the time just needs locking up. People will say, 'Oh, I'm always happy!' No you're not! You must be insane if you're always happy!

"You're on neutral, and occasionally you're sad, and occasionally you're happy. I love being balanced. I've had enough tipping wildly one way or the other. I really like the idea of being a fulcrum. Good word. Tonight's word: fulcrum."

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