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It may have taken them a mere ten years but The 3 Clubmen, the latest project involving XTC‘s Andy Partridge have issued their self-titled EP, complete with a very creative video for ‘Look At Those Stars.’ GIITTV tracks them down to find out all about it.

Hi there!  Can each of you please introduce yourselves?

Andy: Hello there, my name is Andrew John Partridge. I’m named Andrew because ‘the Andrew’ is a slang name for the British Royal Navy, my dad was a sailor you see.

Jen: Hi. I’m Jen Olive, the “American Songstress” as I’ve been dubbed. Is she a nut? Is she a fruit? Do we even like olives?

Stu: Good morning- I’m Stu Rowe- musician/producer/teacher/ who’s foolhardily lived and worked in Swindon since 1989.

How are you and where are you?

Andy: I’m still alive, whoopee! That not being alive thing is crap, I tried it for a few billion years. I’m in bed right now. Not long woke from a dream where I said my name was  Johnny Crab Rockets, true. Where did that come from?

Jen: I’m good! I’m still here and undeterred. I’m living in Las Vegas right now which is pretty surreal. Theoretically it’s the last place on earth a person should live but I’m enjoying it, so go figure.

Stu: Also still existing–but in a very relaxed manner. Currently in a very wet Liverpool, perfecting the accent, surrounded on all sides by The Beatles, but heading back to Swindon on Sunday. 

How did the three of you come together?

Andy: Unintentionally. I produced an album for Jen years ago, called Warm Robot, and round about the same time I met Stu. Stu and I would hang out at his studio less than a mile from me, and we’d improvise ideas, thinking nothing would ever come of them. How wrong I was. Stu sent Jen some of our improvs and she threw things back at us. People got to hear our scribblings and largely said “you’d be crazy not to release this stuff, its great“. So we did.

Jen: Like an epic car crash, lol… happily, there were no casualties. In my movie-version, the impact opens a portal in the multi-verse and shenanigans ensue. It’s a black comedy I think.

Stu: I met Andy in 2006 at the recording sessions for Monstrance. After that we  started hanging out in my studio a couple of days a week and exploring different  ways of making music, as well as spending countless  hours in Swindon pubs listening to juke boxes and discussing different reverbs and song structures. Andy has an encyclopaedic knowledge of popular music production- and we just starting saying “ what if we tried this  etc….?’

Tell us about the making of the EP and how you wrote and made it.

Andy: It wasn’t really written, it was all improvised, words, sounds, nothing was planned. We just chipped away at blocks of pure gumph to see if there was anything inside. There was in some cases.

It was nibbled away over the years, until its fabulous light could not be contained any further, ha!! 

In a nutshell, one of us would record an idea, someone else might pick it up and run with it, or simply throw a completely different idea back. The creativity comes from the “wrongness” laying in it. We just found it.

Jen: You know that meme, “Introverts Unite. Separately, in your own homes” It’s something like that. Or, the improv game where one person says a line to start the scene, then the next person just adds and takes it somewhere else and so on… It’s only at the end that you have any idea what you were all on about, but it was funny, and hopefully it worked. I think that’s the closest description I can muster.

Stu: Andy and I  were experimenting with improvising in different keys- and then chopping up and re-arranging- sampling- reversing-  trying to find  somewhere new to go to musically.  Some of these outrageous ideas headed over the ocean to Miss Olive in Albuquerque. Back came the most surreal cosmic harmonies. Then we’d both add more random elements  -etc etc,,, pass the sonic parcel-  add some other strange Swindon musicians to the pot- – then Jen came to the UK for a short tour-. Slowly it evolved from the dreadful mess we had made.

Are you planning any further EPs and/or an album?

Andy: In the pot, there are enough dormant pieces to make more releases (now there’s a lyric). We will record fresher fare too.

Jen: Yes! We’ve committed to more. We have a lot of stuff recorded and ready to work on and we’re doing some new things as well… so, that’s exciting. We’ll see now what happens when we do something on purpose… a new concept for this club.

Stu: Yes indeed ! its time to delve through the murky, dusty archives in the Bunker. There’s a lot of stuff in there…but also will be thrilling to start some new sketches and see where it goes. “The only rule is there’s no rules….”

You’ve all worked on a number of projects before. Is this now the main focus for the three of you or are you working on other projects? If so…what!

Andy: Personally, and as the one who looks like Andy, I’ll be putting out a book of paintings in September. I’m also supervising more surround XTC mix projects. There may well be some secret things escaping sonically as well, tee hee.

The 3Clubmen thrive on being ignored, so we’ll continue in that vein.

Jen: I’m working on some solo stuff – really spare, guitar-focused…hopefully I’ll have a good five or six that I can release sooner than later…

Stu: Yes I’m delving into The 3 Clubmen archives and also setting up the Lighterthief label a bit more professionally – there’s 25 years of random sonic explorations to sift through and organise. It’s a shambles but some good stuff in there.

What music are you currently listening to?

Andy:Ornette Coleman, Jan Johansson. Re-reading William BurroughsSoft Machine.

Jen: I don’t listen to music when I’m making music. I get over-saturated. I binge here and there for a day or an afternoon… a few weeks ago I binged Yebba and Robert Glasper. Yesterday I binged Eminem for a few hours. My kid turned me on to this kid 2Hollis and I like some of that, too…

Stu : I’ve just bought a record deck, so going back to explore my favourite ever records on vinyl- BeatlesRed Album, Beach Boys20 Golden Greats, Hunky Dory, Kind of Blue, OK Computer– restricting my diet to the very finest and choicest cuts of audio food. Listening to whole albums and not 15 sec clips.  It won’t last….

Finally, what are your plans for the rest of the year?

Andy: I try not to have plans these days, I prefer to jam along with what life throws at you. I’ve gone from being ultra fired up and ‘on’ 24/7, to being aggressively lazy. I really like drinking, but it doesn’t like me, damn it.

Jen: Starting on some new material for this project. Finishing up some solo stuff. I’d like to actually go outside sometime before Christmas. It’s 115F in Vegas at the moment… that’s like 45C for you guys. The struggle is real.

Stu: I have a book idea called The Philosophies of Music Production which I add to occasionally. Kinda abstract rambling. But there’s these damn hard drives of material to go through and sort out…

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God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.