Q&A

Keep­ing the home fires burn­ing in Swin­don, it’s a new EP and a re­turn to the live fray for the XTC bassist, along­side for­mer band­mate Terry Cham­bers. But things might have been dif­fer­ent if he’d taken up an of­fer from a cer­tain Mr Gil­mour…

Prog - - Contents - Words: Jo Ken­dall Por­trait: Lou Dom­mett Young

For­mer XTC bassist Colin Mould­ing is back mak­ing mu­sic with drum­mer Terry Cham­bers. Here he re­veals all about their new out­fit, TC&I.

Out of the spot­light since XTC broke up in 2006, Colin Mould­ing found him­self back in (mu­sic) busi­ness at the end of 2017 along­side for­mer band­mate and drum­mer Terry Cham­bers in a new con­fig­u­ra­tion called TC&I. So far, they’ve re­leased a four-track EP, Great As­pi­ra­tions, and have just done a hand­ful of live shows in their home­town of Swin­don. With Great As­pi­ra­tions out now on lim­ited 10-inch vinyl – and a mighty 40 years since XTC re­leased their de­but al­bum White Mu­sic – it was time for a catch-up with the cel­e­brated bassist.

What’s TC&I all about? Is it a nod to the film With­nail & I? [Laughs] I sup­pose the name is with With­nail in mind. Lovely film, isn’t it? Terry had been mar­ried and liv­ing in Aus­tralia, but di­vorced and came home. I had some songs I’d been work­ing on when I heard he was back, so we went out, had a few drinks and I sort of popped the ques­tion. It was quite well-re­ceived.

It’s all very home-grown, isn’t it?

Yes, it was recorded in my mu­sic room and very hands on. When one was singing the other was work­ing the con­trols, just two of us fly­ing this plane. I’d recorded my voice be­fore but I hadn’t much ex­pe­ri­ence of record­ing other things. That was a learn­ing process as one went along.

And you’ve re­leased it your­self, with the help of PledgeMu­sic and Burn­ing Shed?

I could have got as­sis­tance – I’m used to be­ing signed to a la­bel – but I didn’t. It’s a shock to the sys­tem, sud­denly you’ve got to go out and get your own milk [laughs]. The DIY world is re­ally nice, though. We had the CD out then some­body said, “You need to do vinyl, Colin.” Re­ally? Oh, al­right. So we are.

There are four songs on the EP. Com­rades Of Pop seems pointed in the di­rec­tion of XTC? It’s not, it’s my out­stretched hand is of­fer­ing new bands a bit of ad­vice. We’ve been singed. A lot of peo­ple get burned at the stake. Our man­ager was a very naughty man but we lived to tell the tale. Then when we left Vir­gin in ’87 and went into the in­de­pen­dent la­bel world, that was murky and a mis­take. I thought, “Come back Vir­gin, all is for­given!”

What about the track Kenny?

It’s about build­ing on play­ing fields and ask­ing where will the chil­dren play? We knew a Kenny at school who went on to play pro­fes­sional foot­ball. He played on the fields and waste grounds of old Swin­don and nur­tured his imag­i­na­tion there. I was the son of a care­taker at the big­gest school in Swin­don with the big­gest play­ing field and it’s now been built on. The bun­ga­low where we lived has gone too. The sum­mers of ’69-’71 were idyl­lic, I’d go out of my gate and there were 10 acres of freshly mown field ahead. Not any­more.

Scat­ter Me sounds light and fun, but is quite heavy?

I wanted to prove that you can write about death and it would still be a pos­i­tive thing. There’s been lots of po­etry about death and when I read it, there was a con­nec­tion for me. I think it sounds uplift­ing. Scat­ter Me also comes from a lovely walk I do out­side Swin­don. The Marl­bor­ough Downs, the Cotswolds, Uff­in­g­ton White Horse. It’s good ex­er­cise, but you also see these lit­tle shrines – a pho­to­graph, a posy – for peo­ple who also walked there.

What were you do­ing be­fore TC&I?

XTC fiz­zled out in 2006 when me and Andy [Par­tridge] had dif­fer­ing vi­sions of how we’d like to see the band. It was a shock when it all ended. Ex­pected, but a shock. It was like get­ting a divorce, you can’t take on a new love be­cause you’re still betrothed to the old one in a way. I went into tail­spin for a cou­ple of years, won­der­ing what the fuck I was go­ing to do. So I didn’t do any­thing, I just sat and watched TV. I missed the hu­man con­nec­tion. It’s pretty soul-de­stroy­ing work­ing on your own.

You did con­trib­ute to Billy Sher­wood’s Re­turn To The Dark Side Of The Moon project, though?

Oh yes, and that was good. Also work­ing with Allyson Sec­onds and An­ton Bar­beau. I’m proud of those songs. I’ve never been one for be­ing a hired hand, though. I didn’t want to be the out­sider.

You were asked to join Pink Floyd, too?

They were look­ing for a bass player and singer as they were go­ing out on tour. I had a phone call from Dave Gil­mour and he said, “Would you be in­ter­ested in com­ing down?” I said, “I haven’t toured for 25 years,” and there was a big si­lence at the other end of the line. They wanted to go out for a year and that’s just not me. So I said, “It’s very kind but I wouldn’t be in­ter­ested,” and we left it.

Are you sur­prised that XTC are so loved by prog fans?

We dipped our toe in the warm wa­ters of prog a few times. We’re not huffy about dif­fer­ent ar­eas of mu­sic, it’s all mu­sic, good or bad. It’s my back­ground; I was a big Tull fan, and Atomic Rooster.

And for a bass hero, Chris Squire?

I was a Chris Squire fan, ab­so­lutely. We were work­ing on Or­anges And Lemons in LA and I was putting on a bass part and [laughs] you don’t want Chris Squire walk­ing through the door at that point, do you? He stood in the door­way, this im­pos­ing fig­ure, nod­ding his head. It was slightly off-putting, but I bore it as best I could.

You’ve been par­tial to a pseu­do­nym: The Colonel, The Red Cur­tain (in The Dukes Of Stratosp­hear)… what’s the ap­peal? Most peo­ple do that as a slight dis­claimer so if the whole thing ex­plodes they can walk away from it with some dig­nity. It takes the pres­sure off, you can be any­one. One time, Andy and I thought about do­ing a bub­blegum pop sam­pler. We thought, “Why don’t we in­vent 10 dif­fer­ent groups for this?” Lu­di­crous, re­ally. You go to the record com­pany with the idea and their face just drops.

The suc­cess of The Dukes was a shot across their boughs, though.

Great As­pi­ra­tions is out now. See www.pledgemu­sic.com/projects/tc-and-i for more in­for­ma­tion.

“DAVID GIL­MOUR CALLED ASK­ING ME TO COME TO THE STU­DIO…”

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