Fassine have quite the profile. Their track “Whatever It Takes To Help You Sleep” played as the backdrop to Netflix’s first feature film “Velvet Buzzsaw”, while ”Leaves” was featured on Oprah Winfrey’s Queen Sugar. Fassine release their new album, Forge, on 27th March 2020.
Sarah Palmer of Fassine shares her love of the mighty XTC in the latest Why I Love column.
Where do you start with a band like XTC??
For me XTC are the band equivalent of Bowie. Endlessly inventive, courageous, witty, knowing, ironic, the list goes on and on. XTC are one of those bands that are “just there” for a lot of people. They think they know a few of the songs, and the name escapes them. But play them ‘Dear God’, ‘Senses Working Overtime’, “Making Plans for Nigel’, ‘Mayor of Simpleton’, ‘Sgt Rock’, ‘King for a Day’ and their eyes widen…”Oh my god….I know them!”
The first time I was aware of XTC was seeing them on a replay of the Old Grey Whistle Test playing ‘Statue of Liberty’. Barry Andrews destroying a rickety old keyboard setup, guts ripped out, rocking back and forth, Terry Chambers metronomically hammering the drums, Colin Moulding icily disdainful of his surroundings and Andy Partridge spasmodically jerking his wiry frame, a mop of straight hair desperately trying to hold on. It was mesmerising.
Ugly, beautiful, hilarious and deadly serious all at the same time. It wasn’t until a few years later I really delved into their back catalogue and it was a wondrous time as the usual expectation of settling on a favourite album or period didn’t really materialise. I found that without exception every XTC album was fascinating. There is obviously the slightly punkier, rougher early days but even these reaped enormous rewards. You could just feel that they were screaming to be uncaged from the “punk” box journalists had already put them in.
I could get geekily in-depth about their technical skills, the perfect craftsmanship or their incendiary live performances (alas, too young to ever see them live and alas, the sad early end to the live shows in general) but it’s the strange and wonderful worlds they paint that endure. The easy thing to say is they make the ordinary extraordinary but it’s too simplistic a line. Yes, there is that but there are also huge, rabbit hole topics condensed into perfect songs. I know Andy feels that he failed on a song like ‘Dear God’, but he’s wrong. In that three and a half minute song he injects an anger and a sadness beyond anything I have ever heard even the most staunch of atheists express. The fact that it’s also musically brilliant…well fuck them!
Speaking of the music itself, every member who swung through those Swindonian based doors were truly intimidating. Barry’s psychotropic, fairground keyboards. Dave Gregory’s unparalleled, tasteful, space giving guitar lines and arrangements. Colin’s bass playing – well that deserves an essay in itself. Kim Deal, Andy Rourke, Colin Moulding. End of. END OF. And Andy. Brutal guitar playing, vocal melodies that I’m sure even he doesn’t quite know what is happening and…the songs. Ultimately, it’s about the songs. If I ever write a song half as good as ‘Another Satellite’, ‘Respectable Street’ or ‘I Can’t Own Her’, well I’m not sure what I would do as what does a footballer do when they’ve already won the World Cup?
Many thanks to Fassine for sharing their thoughts on XTC. You can hear the bands latest single below, and you can find their online links here too.