I have posted this before but being that this site is based in Swindon, England, the home of TC&I and that having gathered a full band around them they are one day into a residency at the local Arts Centre, I thought it appropriate to post this again.
Ahead of the upcoming run of TC&I shows at Swindon Arts Centre I managed to grab a quick chat with Colin Moulding about recent events, a return to treading the boards and what the future holds. This time last year I had spoken to him and Terry Chambers about the release of their e.p. Great Aspirations, so I was interested to know how we got from that record to full band live shows.
“A few reasons really, all those songs I wrote for XTC, when I had finished recording them I just had to wave goodbye to them and I thought it might be nice to hear them in a concert setting as a lot had never been heard that way. This coincided with Terry thinking shall we play some live shows on the back of these new recordings but of course we only had four new songs. I knew he wanted to get back out and play live, that’s how Terry best expresses himself. I thought, I can’t go the whole hog, I can’t go back to a touring lifestyle, I have commitments but I can go half way and play some shows via a more considered approach.”
With the E.P. Great Aspirations seeing Colin Mounding and Terry Chambers musically reunited, we sat down for a chat about all things TC&I, past, present and future, in that order. So the first question is to ask if it really was 1983 that the two last worked together musically?
“Yes, 1983 and then Terry left the country.” Which begs the obvious question of why get back together now? “Because it’s soul destroying working on your own,” Colin admits, “Terry came back into the country and we went out for a few drinks and I said, ‘Look I’m working on some stuff, do you fancy having a go?’ He said, ‘Yeah, that would be great,’ one thing led to another and before long we had an outfit and so we could record something. It’s just a need to be with other musicians and have fun, working alone is hard, you need that feedback from fellow musicians. Although I had a few tunes, the project didn’t really take on any solid purpose until Terry was involved.”
It is always difficult for musicians associated with a past name act to bring fresh music to the table without people trying to join dots and name check, extrapolate and reference, particularly if that previous act was one which rose over the years from mercurial pop outsiders to full blown national treasures. And so Colin Moulding and Terry Chamber’s first post-XTC collaboration arrives amid a flurry of speculation but I’m sure they want nothing better that to see this e.p. as a new start, a thing apart, a line drawn underneath the past rather than part of some fan envisaged ex-TC canon.
After all in many ways the sound of XTC was often defined by the guitar playoffs between Andy’s angular pop approach and Dave’s more florid musical statements so with that no longer part of the equation we get to fully appreciate Colin’s own English pop vision. And with so much to look back on from a certain point in the arc of life it is not surprising that it is a very reflective vision, Scatter Me dealing with the inevitability of returning to the mere building blocks of the universe but in doing so remaining part of the landscape you spent your life in and Greatness discussing the high aspirations of the e.p.s title.
Comrades of Pop is the track that will be most discussed by the fans and followers, probably more for lyrical content as for anything else. It is the sound of lines being very much drawn under the past, the squawk of cats amongst pigeons, the distant smell of smoke from bridges burning and a reflective overview which probably applies to any number of bands.
What Colin and Terry have created here is something tasteful, deftly wrought, restrained and wonderfully English, West Country…. Swindonian even, if you are close enough to get the references. It is in turns lyrically funny, emotive and poignant and falls into a sort of alternative pop territory that seems to be done so well in this country evoking the likes of Martin Newell and Billy Childish, perhaps not sonically but coming from a similar musical mindset. In short, triumph and hopefully merely the first chapter of a new musical novel.