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Easily the most commercially-successful rock group in alternate-universe history, XTC was formed in Swindon, England in 1976 by singer/guitarist Andy Pandy, singer/bass-player Colin Molars, keyboardist Barry Antshoes, and quarterback Terry Bradshaw. Signed to a 18-million-pound recording contract with Sexually-Experienced Records after only two appearances on The Midlands Farm Report, the band's first album, Wite-Out™ Music, sold over 46 million copies in just 30 minutes. Since then, the band has sold more albums, singles, DVD's, movie tickets, lunch-boxes, commemorative postage stamps, plushies, and multi-colored tea cozies than all other musical acts in alternate-universe history combined, despite difficult personnel changes, management disputes, and Pandy's controversial 1982 decision to stop using Rogaine™.
edit Career Highlights
edit The Rise to Stardom
XTC's unique, yet intensely popular, sound garnered massive critical acclaim from the music press, with reviewers proclaiming them the most "clever","quirky", and "hyperactive" band in existence — adjectives that quite naturally translated into immediate and enormous international record sales. Their first single, "This Is Mom," made them instant millionaires. Scoring number-one smash hit after number-one smash hit, the group toured constantly, playing to crowds so large that by 1980 stadiums could no longer hold them, forcing the band to play in Wal-Mart stores and Oprah Winfrey's bathroom.
edit The Price of Stardom
Citing artistic differences during the recording of their second album, Grue Toe, keyboardist Antshoes was replaced by a second guitarist, "Super" Dave Osborne. Despite the significant change in the band's sound, sales continued to climb. Their third album, Checks and Wire Transfers, was a conceptual work dealing with the problem of how to keep track of the constant influx of royalty payments and concert fees. Their fourth, Cash Sea, described their 5,000 square-foot private bank vault, while their fifth, 1982's English Legal Settlement, commemorated their successful effort to buy roughly 45 percent of the British Isles as a tax shelter after firing their manager. It was also around this time that XTC stopped touring, mostly due to Pandy's aversion to giant man-eating insects. "Some people ask us why we didn't just use fly spray," said Pandy in a recent interview. "I guess we never did try that."
edit The VAT of Stardom
Shortly thereafter, quarterback/drummer Bradshaw decided to retire from the band after a dispute about the origin of the word "cleavage." (He later used his share of the group's wealth to buy Australia.) Now a drummerless, Steelerless trio, XTC's music grew more experimental and introspective; 1984's Bummer was their least successful album, with only 18 million copies sold and just four number-one singles. The Big Penis, released in 1985, fared little better. This led Sexually-Experienced to question their commitment to the group, and after protracted negotiations, it was decided that XTC should become a southern boogie band as soon as they could grow a sufficient amount of hair in their armpits. The resulting album, 1987's Loansharking, was an artistic disappointment, despite yielding the group's most successful song to date, "Dear Wad (of Cash)."
edit The Strike Years
After returning to their earlier style with 1989's Oranges, Lemons, Limes, Kiwi Fruit, and Potato Salad, and 1991's Non-Stick, XTC formed their own labor union, the International Order of Longshoremen, Aircraft Workers, and Clever English Pop Stars. Merging a year later with the League of Kill-Bots and Ant People to form the World Organization of Longshoremen, Aircraft Workers, Clever English Pop Stars, Kill-Bots, and Ant People, XTC decided to go on strike to protest Sexually-Experienced's continued pressure on them to grow long beards, drink American beer, and fart on a regular basis. Despite the immediate and near-catastrophic effect on the label's bottom line, Sexually-Experienced chairman Enrichered Bran-Flakeson refused to budge, stating that "if this were some alternate universe, XTC wouldn't even own 10 percent of the UK, much less half. Hell, they could be completely broke by now. I'd see to it personally."
edit The Post-Strike Years
The strike lasted over 7 years, finally ending in 1999 when Bran-Flakeson agreed to release XTC from their contract in exchange for free tickets to their next concert appearance. The group, now down to just Pandy and Molars after "Super" Dave left in search of a good fish 'n' chips restaurant for his pet hamster, formed their own label, IKEA Records, which quickly grew from a one-band company to one of the largest manufacturers of inexpensive contemporary furniture in Sweden.
As of this writing, their last two releases, Attack Venus Volume I and Washed Car: Attack Venus Volume II, have sold a combined 357,092,210,432 albums on planet Earth alone, cementing XTC's status as the most successful musical act of alternate-universal time.
edit Useful Trivia
- XTC's 24th number-one single, "Making Plans for Nigel's Vast Trust Fund," is featured in over 813 films, including several that were specifically re-edited just to include it in their soundtracks
- Bass player Colin Molars spent the entire 1992-1999 period making soap carvings and stained-glass windows, "just to get it out of my system"
- After the split with keyboardist Barry Antshoes, XTC seriously considered hiring Thomas Dolby-C as a replacement, if only to prevent him from releasing the album Aliens Ate My Buick
- For Attack Venus Volume I, XTC hired the London Symphony Orchestra for two solid weeks, merely to make tea, go out for sandwiches, and swat any giant mutant insects that might enter the recording studio (none did)
- After legendary producer Joe Meek's death, Andy Pandy's parents bought him a "Replacement Joe Meek" made out of cardboard and animal dander, which he later ate
- In 1997, invading armies from an alternate universe, in which XTC was actually unpopular, were so pleased with their near-ubiquity in the Real Universe™ that they decided to buy homes and "settle down" instead of annihilating all sentient life with atomic heat-rays
- XTC has spawned its very own cult of rabid (no, really) fans who hold an annual religious journey to XTC's home town of Swindon in the UK. Gathering activities include a visit to the White Horse of Uffington, live performances by a tribute band and staring at Pandy and Molars' houses until they call the cops.
edit Recent Events
In the years since the release of Washed Car in 2001, remaining XTC members Pandy and Molars have become increasingly reclusive. Moreover, their lack of original output since then has led some of their fans to believe that they have, in fact, ascended to a higher, god-like state of consciousness, shedding their earthly bodies in favor of existence as pure energy. A spokesman for the duo, speaking through a megaphone from the top of Mt. Olympus, scoffed at the rumors, saying that the two had simply "lost some weight."
In the meantime, XTC fans have been forced to make do with a steady diet of demo recordings, bootlegs, and ramen noodles. As of the winter of 2005, no plans for a new album had been announced, though several theme park projects, a line of breakfast-food products, and a new quasi-religion are all believed to be well underway.