The 3 Clubmen (Stu Rowe, Jen Olive and XTC’s Andy Partridge) offers visual trip with ‘Aviatrix‘ ahead of debut ‘The 3 Clubmen’ EP, out June 30
“Dazzling pop, seriously good fun, and when you get musicians as outstanding as this they can make the complex layers of voices and instruments seem as simple as a bird taking flight” ~ Joyzine UK
“A warped, meter-shifting, proudly eccentric pop extravaganza” ~ The New York Times
“Modern pop, retro glam and many sonic explorations. Not far from XTC’s aesthetics, Andy Partridge and friends continues to stun with their vibrant harmonics” ~ London Cafe
“Pure uniqueness and in no time an addiction of individuality and enlivening adventure” ~ Ringmaster Review
The 3 Clubmen – a new project made up of XTC’s Andy Partridge, Jen Olive and Stu Rowe – present the official video for their debut single ‘Aviatrix’ – a perfect match of sounds and images. The trio’s eponymous debut EP will be released on June 30 via Swindon-based Lighterthief label, in cooperation with Burning Shed.
The 3 Clubmen is the culmination of a decade of antics from these longtime collaborators – all of whom are 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, The 3 Clubmen marks 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”.
Recalling 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, ‘Aviatrix’ is an avant-pop delight offering a strange, seductive blend of experimental pop, jazz and sci-fi cinema excellence.
Best known as co-founder of XTC, Partridge is known as the “godfather of Britpop”. His most recent solo releases include ‘My Failed Songwriting Career, Volumes 1 & 2’, various XTC re-releases, the ‘Planet England’ EP with Robyn Hitchcock, the ‘Powers’ collection of sound pieces, and the ‘Gonwards’ album with Peter Blegvad. He has also recently written songs for The Monkees, Miles Kane and others.
Albuquerque-based LA native musician-songwriter Jen Olive has a series of albums to her name, in addition to writing and recording for A&M Records and contributing music to various American Film Institute projects. Her latest solo release was 2022’s Stu Rowe-produced single ‘Two Futures’.
A key player on Swindon’s music scene, Stu Rowe has supported many artists as a guitarist, bassist and producer. Apart from Patridge and Jen Olive, these include Shriekback (Barry Andrews), Paul Weller, Colin Moulding, Future Sound of London (The Amorphous Androgynous), and TC&I.
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.
Andy Partridge explains, “Like an ‘action painter’ throws colour at a canvas, we tend to throw musical and sound things, knowing that we’ll cut through this seemingly insane mess later, to hopefully find some beautiful garden, hiding there. I throw paint, Jen throws paint, Stu throws paint…and we walk away. If, when we return, something in there calls to us, we’ll move heaven and earth to get it out and let it breath. Using whatever it takes, be it contrary musical ideas, parts in clashing keys incongruous sounds, contradictory words/phrases. Its all clay to us.”
“The Clubmen project is something I’ve been messing about with for years – it’s the one thing that everyone who hears it says I should finish. It was great fun to make and I think we’ve managed to create something really quite interesting between all three of our musical sensibilities,” says Stu Rowe.
Jen Olive adds, “The joy is it… so much humor… the lyrics reflect the spirit of the conversations… the call and response. There’s an ecstatic quality to it. it’s thrilling to have people share in that.”
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.
After returning to the US, Jen released her ‘I Say Love’ EP (involving collaborations with Andy and Stu individually) and then ‘The Breaks’ album, a three-year endeavor produced by Stu and released in 2014.
‘Aviatrix’ is out now, available everywhere digitally. On June 30, ‘The 3 Clubmen’ debut EP will be released on CD, as well as digitally, via Burning Shed.
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