The 3 Clubmen
The 3 Clubmen
Lighterthief / Burning Shed. Watch the
video for ‘Look At Those Stars’, out August 2
Release: 2 August 2023
The 3 Clubmen – a trio made up of XTC’s Andy Partridge, Jen Olive and Stu Rowe – presents ‘Look At Those Stars’, the latest single from their debut eponymous EP., released via Swindon’s own Lighterthief label with distribution via Britain’s Burning Shed.
Heralded by the debut single ‘Aviatrix’, this EP recalls XTC’s later pastoral period, a touch of Jen Olive’s math-pop angularity and the eclectic sound that runs through Stu Rowe’s Lighterthief back catalog. This is an avant-pop delight offering a strange, seductive blend of experimental pop, jazz and sci-fi cinema excellence.
With balanced vocals offerings, compelling delivery, infectious energy and clever lyrics is an uplifting affair. Here, Jen Olive meets in the sonic stratosphere with Andy Partridge and a fun, catchy and layered bed of magnificence created by Stu Rowe. The fantastic accompanying video was animated by Jen Olive herself.
Jen Olive explains, “With this video, I wanted to create something more like a film… an impressionistic docu-dramedy that tells our story and is fun to watch. I was actually on the brink of a serious breakdown when this song was being made. It was such a dark time. I had moved to the middle of nowhere in the desert and was just isolating, trying to ground myself. It’s born from that. It’s a simple little song but that’s what it is for me.”
The use of AI technology to create the ‘Look at Those Stars’ video breaks open the song’s mix of somber reflection and bursting euphoria to tell a dreamy, ever-shifting story filled with playful references and psychedelic symbolism.
The 3 Clubmen is the culmination of a decade of antics from these longtime collaborators (all part of the Lighterthief label family tree) – with the writing and recording of this material starting years ago. While each artist has worked with the others in some form since 2008, This is the first time that Stu, Andy and Jen have combined forces as a trio, an inevitable partnership once described as “a three-headed Frankenstein’s monster dancing at a neurodivergent singles club”.
“To me, this EP is a bizarre 70s sitcom for the ears, which lies on the borders between random and structured, weird and straight, and old and new. It’s somehow come up from the strange dream-like world that exists between all three of us,” says Stu Rowe.
Andy Partridge adds, “The 3 Clubmen are doing everything wrong…and it’s just right.”
The Clubmen saga begins in 2006, when Andy and Stu first worked on ‘Monstrance’. Riding on a mutual fascination with experimental music production, a bi-weekly ritual soon emerged, starting at Stu’s Lighterthief Bunker and ending at the local pub, which resulted in sonic explorations and improvised recordings. A series of musical sketches gradually formed, setting the stage for Jen’s later involvement.
With interest reignited during the pandemic after being put on hold and largely forgotten, the trio decided to finish what they’d started all those years ago, resulting in their debut 4-track effort.
Signing to Andy’s label APE HOUSE Records in 2008 (after recording her ‘Warm Robot’ album), Jen contributed lyrics and vocals on ‘Up On Hi’ and ‘My Dream Sea’, penned by Rowe and Partridge for Lighterthief’s ‘Trick Picture’ and ‘Hard Listening’ EPs (released on APE HOUSE).
In 2010, the threesome were finally able to work together in person. The chemistry was instant, the room was buzzing and the ideas flowed. Over pints at The Roaring Donkey pub, they dubbed their project “The 3 Clubmen” after the local defence volunteer groups formed during the English Civil War. Clubmen protected themselves from both armies by fighting on their own side – the name seemed to fit.
3. Green Green Grasshopper
4. Look At Those Stars
All songs written and performed by The 3 Clubmen
Music by Andy Partridge, Jen Olive and Stu Rowe
Lyrics by Andy Partridge and Jen Olive
Film and Music production by The Encyclopedia Salesmen
Recorded and produced between 2010 and 2023 in The Lighterthief Bunker, Swindon, England
Additional recordings in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Andy Partridge – vocals, guitars, programming and production
Jen Olive – vocals and guitar
Stu Rowe – bass, guitars, keys, programming and production
Frank Abrams – flute
Mikey Rowe – keys
Curtis Tweed – slide guitar
Andreas Rebhuhn – drums
‘Bangy’ – percussion
Produced by Stu Rowe
Mixed by The Encyclopedia Salesmen
Mastered by Jason Mitchell at Loud Mastering
Artwork by Carl Glover at Aleph Studio