Andy Partridge

XTC's fuzzy warbler is a pop genius.

Thankfully, he's not going to -- but if he did, the Partridge musical lineage would live on through his daughter, Holly, who plays guitar and sings in a power-pop-meets-Motown band called the SheBeats ( Unlike with other famous musical progeny, however, there's been no Svengali action on Partridge's part (his only advice is that she shouldn't "sign anything before she shows it to me") 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. "So she's got this little secret world going on.

"The first so many hundred songs I ever wrote in my life were just dog shit. They were awful. 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." He sighs with mock exaggeration. "It makes you want to spit. I'm proud of her. I keep threatening to turn up at one of their live gigs."

Andy Partridge isn't rich, but he's occasionally happy, and that's the best anyone can hope for, really.
Steve Gullick
Andy Partridge isn't rich, but he's occasionally happy, and that's the best anyone can hope for, really.

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

"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] admit to sounding like us. But you know they damn well do."

In fact, he admits to having been jealous of R.E.M. and Talking Heads in the '80s, since both groups were considered somehow more "authentic" because they're American -- whereas the Swindon-formed XTC was made up of "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."

Still suffering the effects of this today clearly frustrates Partridge, but it's something he's unfortunately gotten used to (if not resigned to) after more than thirty years making music in the spotlight. And while it's more than a little criminal that he gets no respect for his deft lyrics, crisp melodies and dazzling wit, 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," he 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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