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The WXRT Sessions

Three of Robyn's most interesting radio interviews were all on Chicago's XRT station. The ridiculous questions of the uniquely inane DJ, and Robyn, Andy and Morris's generally out-of-it attitude led to some of the very few times Robyn's been interesting in his Wacky Uncle Bobby mode. Robyn also played some superb session tracks, including three with Morris drumming with a pen on a tin can.

June 1989

Opens with DJ playing Balloon Man.

DJ: That was Balloon Man from Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians. It blew off right there in your hand.

Robyn: Yeah, I suppose so. If you like.

DJ: Robyn Hitchcock is in the studio, obviously. He's playing a concert tonight at the Vic theatre, and just recently released your tenth record, Queen Elvis.

Robyn: No, it's the thirteenth. [This isn't true, incidentally; Queen Elvis was Robyn's fifteenth album. Don't you try and pretend Two Halves and Groovy Decay never happened, pal. -Aidan]

DJ: Is it?

Robyn: Yeah. We had a number thirteen on the window of the phone box, But we airbrushed it out, we thought it was bad vibes. Once a number thirteen, always a number thirteen. It's like the thirteenth floor. If you call the thirteenth floor the fourteenth floor it's still really the thirteenth.

DJ: But it gets the bad luck spirits out.

Robyn: I don't know- You can't cheat fate. I can't believe fate's so stupid that it's fooled by airbrushing and changing the name of floors.

DJ: When I found out you were going to be coming into the studio tonight, you do have quite a legion of fans here in the city, and a number of them asked me, telepathically of course, which would be, which is the best way to put on a pair of shoes? Do you put the socks on first and then go for the shoes, or do you put one sock, one shoe, and then do the other foot? [I'll never insult Danny Baker again - Aidan]

Robyn: Oh, I see what you're getting at! I thought you meant, did you put the shoes on your feet and then the socks on the outside.

DJ: Well, you could do that. Some people prefer that.

Robyn: Yeah, you can if you've got very elastic socks. It just depends what sign you are, I think. If you're an Aquarian, for instance, Aquarians achieve chaos through order. Aquarians would put one sock on and then one shoe. And the house would burn down, and they'd run out with one totally dressed foot and the other naked.

DJ: Are you an Aquarian?

Robyn: No, no, I'm far too chaotic. I achieve chaos through chaos. I'd put the socks on and then completely forget that I was supposed to put any shoes on. I'm wearing matching socks for this radio broadcast.

DJ: That's right, and you brought along a guitar.

Robyn: I did, yeah.

DJ: Before we let you play a song or two, since this is your first visit here at WXRT we'd like to talk briefly about your past. Your illustrious past with the Soft Boys.

Robyn: Well, it wasn't very illustrious being in the Soft Boys, actually. I don't know if anyone's ever heard of them. Do you ever play the Soft Boys on XRT?

DJ: I don't think we play them on a regular basis, but I'm sure that people that are aware of your music are aware of the band. In fact, you know, you do have quite a good following.

Robyn: Yeah. well, it was a long time ago, basically. It's funny that anyone notices it. I think the only reason is that Kimberley had a hit with 'Walking On Sunshine'. And Andy & Morris have had no hits at all being with me as part of Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians. Now, viewers, if for some reason you don't know to what I am alluding, you're going to be even more occluded by the intense mystery of this topic, because no further light can be shed. Suffice it to say, it happened in the past and there's now no trace whatsoever of this thing, it's like a metal briefcase that you might drop in the middle of Lake Michigan and then never retrieve again. See what I mean, it's a long time.

DJ: Yeah, but-

Robyn: And you couldn't even prove that that metal suitcase had been dropped down there, I mean, I couldn't even produce a Soft Boys record to prove that it had happened. You don't know, I might have been in some other group. I might have been in the Pleasers, or the Band, or the Buzzcocks. I wasn't, but you see it's just so hard to prove these things.

DJ: Well, lets talk about your current record, Queen Elvis.

Robyn: That's the latest one.

DJ: It's a pretty good record.

Robyn: Is it?

DJ: Yeah, I kind of like it, people seem to fall for it here at the radio station. Your songs, more than a lot of other peoples, seem to be full of images, dreamlike, you spin wonderful little stories that seem to offer up some really vivid pictures. Is there really, like, some kind of message you're trying to convey, or is it strictly left up to the individual to take in and relate for himself?

Robyn: I'm not really trying to convey anything. You're legally entitled to think what you like when you hear these things. As long as people don't go around actually breaking into peoples houses and stabbing each other, a la Helter Skelter, I don't think it really matters. I'm not going to encourage anyone to do anything particularly evil. No, a lot of the songs are encoded - I mean, I'm talking my own language really, and I'm privileged that other people are interested to want to hear it. I don't know what effect it has.

DJ: Well, can we hear some of your language?

Robyn: Some of my language?

DJ: Favour us with a song.

Robyn: Wow, this is very fast. OK, this is a really old song, this is from the days of the Soft Boys. It's about someone who's- See if you can guess what it's about.

Robyn plays Strange.

DJ: Very nice, very nice. What's the name of that one?

Robyn: Could you hear that?

DJ: Uh huh.

Robyn: That's called Strange, oddly enough. I didn't title it, Matthew titled it. I wrote that nearly ten years ago. Well, put it this way, nine years ago.

DJ: That was a Soft Boys song?

Robyn: It was done in Soft Boys days, yeah. So I don't think that's ever been released over here. So that was the song, anyway.

DJ: It was really nice. Lets do some commercials and come back and talk some more.

Commercial break.

DJ: You're playing at the Vic tonight, which is kind of a medium size hall, and the last time you came through was with REM playing a very huge hall.

Robyn: Oh, probably, yeah. It was a bit out of town, wasn't it?

DJ: Yeah, but close enough for rock & roll.

Robyn: Quite. Rock & roll can get all over the place.

DJ: As it tends to do.

Robyn: It's like any virus, it's hard to contain.

DJ: Was it tricky to play in front of that many people? Was it the biggest crown that you'd ever played in front of?

Robyn: Statistically, yeah, but the point is that when you're an opening act they're not there to see you, they're there to see the band. Plus, half of them haven't even got into their seats. Two or three quarters, maybe. So in practice, you might as well go up there and fry an egg. It's very hard to get any stage fright on these occasions, it just doesn't matter. In fact, the main effect it had was to make us condense everything into 40 minutes. We managed to do a nine-song show and that was it. When we started touring by ourselves again we suddenly had to occupy people's attention for up to an hour and a half. Including your own. You might think you're pretty fascinating company, but you find that after an hour and a half of you you think "Jesus, how am I going to make this look entertaining?" Richard Daley - is that mayor Daley of "off the pigs" fame, or whoever it is, who was responsible for some gruesome things in the sixties?

DJ: His son is now mayor.

Robyn: Right, I gathered that. With the same policies? We can't say this on the air, can we?

DJ: We're not sure of his policies, he's only been in office for a few months. Those are yet to be determined.

Robyn: Aren't people supposed to be elected on their promises?

DJ: He seems to be making good on a few of them.

Robyn: I heard him denouncing something on this station about half an hour ago. Loans, I think. Someone had started a bank account. But I couldn't concentrate. Never mind, I just wondered. So it's the Daleys and Chicago.

DJ: One and the same. It's a family affair. Would you care to play another tune?

Robyn: I could try. I don't know- What do you want, something old again?

DJ: How about Heaven? Are you going to play Heaven tonight?

Robyn: Oh no, I can't do Heaven acoustically, it sounds awful.

DJ: Flesh Number One?

Robyn: No, that needs Peter Buck on it. Peter Buck is nearly always around but he's not here today. I think they're in Europe.

DJ: How about Chinese Bones?

Robyn: All right, I'll do that.

Robyn plays Chinese Bones.

DJ: Thank you, very nice. Robyn Hitchcock in the studio here at WXRT. You mentioned Peter Buck.

Robyn: How could I fail to mention him? [Some sentences seem so ironic after five years, don't they? - Aidan]

DJ: He played on the last two Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians records. How did you meet?

Robyn: Oh, we met somewhere in London. He went to what we call a vet. To you a vet is like a veteran, you know, military service, someone whose done what they can for their country and has been amputated and left on a street corner somewhere. But to us a vet is a veterinary surgeon, someone who deals with animals that are ill. He said intelligently in case you wondered. Good evening XRT listeners and welcome to the show, I'm Robyn Hitchcock talking to Johnny Marr(!). And in the meantime, Peter was drunk and trying to hire a cat from the cat protection agency which was a department of the veterinary surgeon. I was having my cat repaired, or the housecat repaired anyway. You can't bring animals in and out of Britain because of the quarantine laws, they have to stay there for six months. Peter was feeling quite insecure - REM were getting big but they weren't nearly as big as they are, and he had this strange patch of stage fright, kind of homesickness. He used to have all these photographs of where he used to live pinned up on the wall, he had a roadie carrying maps and things of his old basement. One of the things he liked was domestic animals. Cats, dogs and so on. So he was trying to hire a cat, he was a bit drunk, and I said "I'll lend you mine", cause it had just been fixed. Running perfectly, in fact. And he said "Are you sure?", so we tried it out (makes hissing noise) and it was. I realised he was a rock & roller. He'd even heard of the Soft Boys - he was about the only person who had.

DJ: No, you'd be surprised. You play that down, but I think you'd be surprised.

Robyn: They have now, but they didn't then, I'll tell you. The Soft Boys was just about the most ignominious group in the world. So depressing. Right, enough of that moaning on the air. So I lent Peter the cat, and off we went. I sort of helped him out with the cat on tour, and things like that, got it back at the end, and we sort of drifted into each other. Not physically, you know, but mentally. We'd sit around and play guitar a lot. We have almost identical guitar styles. [Jon Storey's File Under Water says Hitchcock and Buck met at a party. But that doesn't sound as good, does it? - Aidan]

DJ: Lets see if we can touch upon the songs. Is there a normal process for writing them? Do you find it difficult, or is it relatively easy to knock off some songs?

Robyn: It depends, sometimes it's impossible and other times you can't stop them coming out. I have no control over the process. I occasionally stick a bit of conscious intelligence in there, otherwise I just let them get on with the process.

DJ: Would you say it's dreamlike, or are dreams very personal?

Robyn: I think it's done with the same part of the brain, probably, as dreaming is. I don't think it's done with the same part of the brain as filling in an income tax return, or working out how to put up a set of bunk beds. Doing the plumbing. It probably fulfils the same function as dreaming, which is- Well, we don't know anything about dreaming, but if you don't sleep you go insane. Sleep isn't just physical rest, sleep is having your brain out, during which time you have rapid eye movement, REM for short, and all this takes place inside a vat of ever-expanding cream with three men called Milton standing around the edge who are pelting you with chocolate drops until such time as you are taken out and dragged across the lake. It's very simple, but it prevents you from- Some people think dreams are prophecies, and other people think dreams are working out your daytime problems at night, and some people think they're actually race memories. Whatever they are, people find them inexplicable. There's a reason for everything, there's a reason for the juxtapositions you get in dreams. So they're wish fulfilment, maybe prophecy, maybe coming to terms with things. That's what my songs are, basically.

DJ: I once had a dream where I owed Eric Clapton $2000.

Robyn: That means "Wait till you meet Pete Townsend".

DJ: Actually, we're going to play another song- Actually, the first song from your current record, this is Freeze, and we'll come back and we'll say goodbye or whatever.

DJ plays Freeze.

DJ: We're in the studio with Robyn Hitchcock, who is again playing at the Vic this evening with the Egyptians. Any final thoughts, anything you'd like to get across to Chicago that we may have missed during the course of our little conversation?

Robyn: Well, keep electing the same mayor. Keep it in the family. Oh, wow, he said, very very slowly, the amazing thing is that last time we were here, which was only about three months ago, it was absolutely full of ice and things like that. There were people today walking around virtually naked with amazing torsos. Really well-built guys, not an ounce of flab on them. Pure hundred percent American beef steer.

DJ: Don't you go through the four seasons where you live?

Robyn: Not with a torso like that! I mean, there were these people standing there and they would have frozen to death within a millisecond of being out there in March. It was quite incredible. Where this pack ice was, and everything, and the wind was so cold that my face just turned to leather, you know, the whole outer area went dead, and it was so windy that I got lost going back to the hotel and I couldn't walk down to the side of the lake to find out where I was. That very same spot today was full of holidaymakers. I've seen it in Britain, but it's quite staggering what three months can do. So obviously, time can heal anything. So all those of you who have been wounded in the last three months, mellow out. You'll get better and soon people will be skin-diving off you and walking all over you like beef steers.

DJ: Allrighty, Robyn Hitchcock, playing tonight at the Vic. Thanks for coming by, and continued success.

February 1992

DJ: Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians have been making records together, I think, since about 1981. Robyn Hitchcock with the Soft Boys for a few years before that. They're in town tonight, with a show that will be opened by Matthew Sweet, an XRT show at the Vic theatre. The songs probably that are most familiar to XRT listeners will be 'Balloon Man', 'Flesh Number One', 'Ultra Unbelievable Love' from the new album, 'So You Think You're In Love', the Queen Elvis album, Globe Of Frogs album [this says something about XRT listeners, I think - Aidan] and three of them are standing right in front of me. Windsor Morris [sic] on drums, Andy Metcalfe is here with the second guitar and Robyn Hitchcock's standing right in the middle. These guys look like they're ready to play something.

Band plays 'Allright Yeah'.

DJ: Allright yeah indeed! OK, this is a real treat, a real surprise, Morris and Andy, that you came along. You guys look like you've done this before.

Robyn: No surprise to us.

DJ: You just walked right in off the street with two guitars, a snare drum and some brushes, ready to go.

Robyn: Well, we've been realising that it's actually easier to do it like this, than have all those amplifiers.

Andy: You can do a gig like this in a submarine with no immediate problems.

DJ: So you mean you've been doing this around the country? You've done this before? It is a regular thing for you to turn up at radio stations?

Robyn: Yeah, for about six months or so now. It's like a form of virus, only it's benign.

DJ: I'd imagine you'd walk into a lot of places and it wouldn't quite work out. It's sounding pretty good in this room.

Robyn: Three mikes? That's not bad.

Morris: We can do it around one.

Andy: We have done it around one. There are times when things just disappear. Like the vocals.

Robyn: Yeah, this is very interesting for us to listen to, because we've got headphones. Probably not for anyone who's listening on the radio. If you can imagine, radio listeners out there, you had some sort of wet dripping thing in the middle of your head, like your tongue only it wasn't. Imagine someone else's tongue where yours is which you can't feel but you're salivating and you can sense it. That's like being in here listening to ourselves in this liquid studio. [I called this man "the most lucid and coherent voice in music" once - Aidan]

Andy: And we mustn't forget to mention Robin.

Morris: Hi Robin.

Robyn: Hi Robin.

Andy: Robin's our bus driver, he's the best bus driver in the world. And he'll only drive us to the next place if we mention him on the radio.

DJ: You just look like you're just ready to go.

Andy: There's no point saying to go along tonight, because it's sold out.

DJ: That's true. I guess you're just here for the fun of it. We've got all these questions to ask you, but you're just ready to go. Ready to strum.

Andy: What's next?

Robyn: This is the-

Morris: The other one.

Andy: Mad Bees?

Robyn: No, eight.

Andy: I'll just go, shall I?

Band play 'Eight Miles High' (badly).

DJ: All right! Excellent, excellent. How are did you pick to choose a, how do you choose to do a, to do a Byrds song, though [sic]. We've got all these Robyn Hitchcock songs.

Robyn: It's nice to have a break sometimes. Besides, I really wish I'd written that.

Andy: And you're playing all the stuff off the album already.

Robyn: Yeah, you've heard it before. Not many people have heard us do this.

DJ: We had Roger McGuinn in here, actually, within - probably about a year ago. His solo album came out, and he was trying to explain that song. I guess he took a lot of flak for it when it come out. People thought it was a drug song in the sixties, you know.

Robyn: Perish the thought.

Andy: Did he play one of our songs?

DJ: Maybe next time he comes in he will, though.

Robyn: I've got a great song for Roger when you do. I'd like to say happy Valentine's day to Cynthia, you're undoubtedly not listening. Do you want us to do any more or what?

DJ: Yes, I thought you were going to do one for Roger McGuinn. I thought that was kind of a lead in.

Robyn: The song I thought would be really good for Roger McGuinn is 'Arms Of Love'. I thought maybe we should do 'Madonna Of The Bees', unless you want to do 'Arms Of Love'.

Andy: Lets do 'Mad Bees'.

Band play 'Madonna Of The Wasps' [very well - arguably the best version ever].

DJ: All right. This is a treat! That's one of the songs that comes from the Queen Elvis album, which is one album where I understand all the songs. All the lyrics are printed on the little sleeve inside here. I've been really struggling with this new album. I play it on my CD where I can, you know, go, like, back and forth and hear lines over and over again to try to figure out all the words.

Robyn: You can't hear the words? (incredulously)

DJ: Sometimes it's a little tough to decipher. Really, the trick is, once you've deciphered the words, then trying to figure out what it all means is sometimes trickier than deciphering them. I get the feeling that maybe a hundred different people could listen to some Robyn Hitchcock songs and maybe have a hundred different interpretations of what they just heard. I wonder if that's something that's ever been presented to you. Have you ever had somebody express a thought to you based on a completely wrong interpretation of a song?

Robyn: Yeah, all the time. But that's good, it means they have different pictures. That's why videos suck, because they tell people how to see a song. In the old days you had your own mental pictures.

DJ: Also, in videos once you've seen a mental image on the video that's what sticks with you.

Andy: It's like making a film out of a good book.

Robyn: Making a bad film out of a good book.

DJ: I've heard- I've read an interview you did recently, I think maybe in Reflex, I think that's where I was reading it, where you went on about your negative thoughts about television to a little greater extent.

Robyn: Well if you've read it you know what it says, don't you? I don't like videos, it think it's just one more reason for people to watch the television. TV should be a controlled drug like any other drug dependent people are going to fall foul of. That's the truth! But there's too much money to be made out of it. One of these days we'll get shot by a TV set and nobody's going to laugh.

DJ: Every time you finish a sentence you look like you're ready to just go and do another song, and I certainly don't want to stop you. You got another in mind?

Robyn: Yeah, lets do 'Arms Of Love'

Andy: Mexican style.

Band performs 'Arms Of Love', in a bizarre cod-Spanish guitar style.

DJ: All right. Robyn Hitchcock and two Egyptians, Morris Windsor with his-

Andy: This is it.

Robyn: This is all the Egyptians that there are.

Andy: There are no more.

Robyn: We had lots more, but we shed them.

DJ: So three of you is the band tonight? Any smoke bombs, anything you can tell us about the show?

Robyn: No, it's going to be really good. No smoke bombs. No video backdrops, no lasers.

Andy: No metal armatures.

Robyn: No televisions. In fact, interestingly enough, no televisions. The Vic used to have 96 television screens.

DJ: Looked like a TV store.

Robyn: Today was the day they took them all out.

Andy: As we arrived he'd just finished taking down the last bit of the mesh. So absolutely no televisions.

Robyn: Joe Pesci, if you're out there, if you'd like to come on in and see the show we'd like you to. We've been watching you on television.

DJ: Well, a lot of new songs tonight and a lot of old songs too.

Robyn: More new than old.

DJ: New than old?

Robyn: If you want to hear really old songs you should stay at home.

Andy: Listen to the record.

DJ: Well, we're running out of time, but I want to play one song from the new album as we say goodbye. Can you tell me a little bit about the song, this is 'Ultra Unbelievable Love'. What's the song all about?

Robyn: The song's about ultra unbelievable love. And the quest for it. That's all.

DJ: I wish I could tell you to get excited and go out and buy a ticket for the show, but it sold out. You going to come back at the end of the tour?

Robyn: If somebody made us a vast offer to come back at the end of the tour we would be back here like a shot.

DJ: Thanks a lot for coming by.

DJ plays 'Ultra Unbelievable Love'.

June 1992

DJ: Our scene has shifted here at the WXRT complex, to production room A, because we needed some space. We've got plenty of space, we've got plenty of microphones, we've got plenty of piles of tape and we've got the really big console, because we've got a live rock & roll band in here with us, and they're going to be playing live, they're a band that has done a number of XRT shows, including one as recently as last night at Park West, and they're going to be there again tonight at Park West. They've also assembled a challenging, charming and penetrating body of musical work, including albums - don't laugh now, until I'm done with the intro - like Queen Elvis, Globe Of Frogs and the most recent one Perspex Island, which came out last year, 1991. I'm talking about Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians. They join us now in production studio A, and since there are three of you maybe we need each of you to give a little introduction. Say your name, say the instrument you're going to play, say your prime musical influence and then your retirement plans. OK, lets go clockwise here.

Robyn: Starting with who?

DJ: Starting with-

Andy: I'm Andy Metcalfe and primarily I play the violin. But I lost it, I left it in the cab, so I've been left this tuba, and I'll be playing that. My retirement plan is to find my violin and my prime musical influence is Frank Sinatra.

DJ: Very good. Now he gave his musical influence last, instead of his retirement plans last. But you can do it any order you want.

Robyn: OK, I'm Robyn. I can't remember, what was I supposed to say?

Andy: Instrument.

Robyn: Instrument? I'm playing the guitar, and I'm-

DJ: Musical influence.

Robyn: Oh Christ, everybody. Can't remember. And retirement plan - well, I retired actually, a couple of years ago. I'm living on an island full of retired people. I quit, really. I just do it in my spare time.

DJ: Is it a good pension?

Robyn: Well, I have to supplement it with things like this, but yeah, we're OK. I'm just growing pumpkins, really. I'm leading a really quiet life. I'm nearly 40.

Morris: Yeah, over here- I'm Morris, I'm playing an evacuated Coke can, which I didn't evacuate, someone else did.

DJ: You must leave the Coke can!

Morris: If you play a full one you can't hear it. I'm striking it with a biro which advertises Zambeli, first family of fireworks.

DJ: Right, we had a big fireworks display a couple of weeks back.

Andy: Not in the studio, I hope.

DJ: No, we moved out for that one.

Robyn: God, you could do a lot with that aerial upstairs, actually. I mean, we just noticed-

Andy: We didn't realise it was actually on top of the building. It looks like the kind of thing people would climb up at the end of movies, and one of them would fall off.

DJ: That's our spare antenna.

Robyn: Your spare?

DJ: Spare.

Robyn: If that aerial was changed by an alchemist into pig iron it would become so heave it would go right through this building and it would skewer us all.

DJ: I think we're right under the pillars, too.

Andy: In order to skewer us, it would have to be thin end down.

Robyn: All right, it would flatten us with its podlike feet.

DJ: What a sound that would make, too.

Robyn: Hey Morris, what's your retirement plan?

Morris: I'm going to Sheboygan, by the sea.

Andy: Where is it?

Morris: It's in Wisconsin.

DJ: The inland sea of Lake Michigan. All right, enough of this frivolity. You guys have brought your instruments here and you're ready to play, so why not favour us with a selection, as they say?

Robyn: Glad you said that. This is 'Driving Aloud' and it goes like this.

Band play 'Driving Aloud'.

DJ: You guys must know that DJs are suckers for songs about radio.

Robyn: Are they? That might not be about radio, it might just be about weather.

DJ: As long as it mentions radio it plucks at our heartstrings.

Andy: You think you'd get sick of it. You do it all the time.

Robyn: I mean, programme directors and sponsors. But are actual DJs? They might want to go and water their tomatoes like everyone else.

DJ: I haven't gotten sick of it. I don't know, maybe I'm unique.

Morris: You haven't got sick of the word 'radio'?

DJ: I don't know, maybe I'm idealistic.

Robyn: Did you like 'Radio Song' by REM?

DJ: Yes, very much

Robyn: We can't play that for you, because...-

Andy: We don't know how it goes.

Robyn: I know the first chord. I just can't remember the rest of it.

DJ: How about that song by Van Morrison that mentions the radio, 'Caravan'?

Robyn plays first verse.

Robyn: Uh, yeah. No, we don't know that one either.

DJ: We got the spirit of it, though.

Robyn: We could do a Van Morrison song. No, actually, lets do 'Railway Shoes'. It's the same thing.

Andy: Yeah, this sounds like Van Morrison. Lazy.

DJ: Wait, what was the name of the first one?

Robyn: That was 'Driving Aloud', or if you like, 'Radio Song'.

Andy: This is in fact the first time that these songs have been played on the radio, because they're all new.

DJ: I feel honoured.

Robyn: This is what we're supposed to be playing next time we're here, when the people say "Come and play some stuff off the new album".

Andy: But the new album hasn't been recorded yet.

Robyn: Yeah. It's going to be like this, we're going to record it in our kitchen. It's going to be very simple.

DJ: So the XRT audience is kinda like a giant guinea pig?

Morris: It's in a giant cage.

Robyn: What do giant guinea pigs eat?

Andy: They eat giant shirts, which they spread out and put in their nests.

Robyn: Fortunately I've brought some shirts. They're in the car.

DJ: They'll make those giant pellets.

Robyn: I don't know if XRT listeners make giant pellets or not.

DJ: All right! Rock on, guys.

Robyn: This is called 'Radio Shoes'.

Band play 'Railway Shoes'.

DJ: DJs are suckers for train songs, too. Did you guys know that?

Robyn: All right, we'll call the album Radio Train.

Morris: Rock & Roll.

Robyn: Rock & Roll Radio Train!

Robyn launches into bizarre Captain Beefheart impersonation.

DJ: All right, we're jamming. Robyn Hitchcock & the Egypt-ians, live on 93 XRT.

Commercial break.

DJ: We're here with Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians live, and they played a show last night at Park West. Now, if you had to rank the show on a scale of one to ten, with ten being, like, a revelation, and one being like Altamont-

Robyn: Altamont was a revelation.

Andy: But of the worst sort.

DJ: Well, like a contractual obligation appearance or something. The bottom.

Robyn: Oh, you mean doing a British tour. Am Officially, we're out here having fun, cause we're not promoting anything. We're just out here doing something for fun. So it could be a revelation.

DJ: Well, maybe a mixture of both throughout the course of the show.

Robyn: Last night's show or tonight's show? We don't know what tonight's show was yet, because we haven't done it.

Andy: We don't do the same thing every night. Never have done.

Robyn: It won't be the same set or anything.

DJ: Plan on having a revelation.

Robyn: We are planning on having a revelation.

DJ: What we're trying to get around to saying is that tickets for tonight's show are still available.

Robyn: If anyone actually buys them. I assume most people get in free these days.

DJ: If you're going to go, you probably should go right to the Park West.

Robyn: We're on in 75 minutes.

DJ: Even now they're clapping for you.

Robyn: If they are they're brain-damaged.

Morris: The support band's just gone on.

Robyn: Yeah, Uncle Green are going on in a minute.

DJ: Now, you guys have been accused of playing deviant melodies. How would you answer that charge?

Morris: As an accusation, I think that's- What's the opposite of an accusation?

Robyn: An accolade.

DJ: A compliment.

Robyn: A compliment, yeah. Very nice of them to say that. But I think that's exaggerated. The tunes are very straight, it's all very ordinary stuff.

DJ: How do you feel about being the catalyst for the psychedelic renaissance in modern music?

Robyn: We weren't. We were nothing to do with it. I think that was started by the Stone Roses.

Andy: Earlier than that.

DJ: How do you feel about it?

Robyn: The real psychedelic stuff got going with the Stone Roses.

DJ: How do you feel about the Manchester scene?

Robyn: Relieved that we had nothing to do with it.

Morris: It's all over, isn't it?

Robyn: Yeah, what happened to it?

Morris: It's the past scene, isn't it?

Robyn: The trouble with being a scene is that it just comes and goes.

Morris: It's still there. Manchester's still there and it always will be.

Robyn: Lots of red bricks.

Andy: Like Chicago.

Robyn: I think I prefer Chicago.

Andy: Manchester's been there longer than Chicago.

Robyn: Yeah, it's a shame. I think Chicago deserves to have been around at least as long as Manchester.

Andy: Manchester doesn't have a lake, that's the big drawback.

Robyn: Yeah, cause if it did you could sink it. Right to the bottom., till you couldn't see any of it.

DJ: It's in the middle of an island, you know.

Robyn: What, Britain, you mean?

DJ: In a broad sense.

Andy: It is pretty central actually. If it was just moved over a bit.

DJ: It's a little bit left of central, then. Am If it was in the middle, it would be further away from America.

Morris: Can we go?

Robyn: We've got to go.

DJ: What are you going to play for us here?

Robyn: This is called 'The Yip Song', it's about an old person dying and recollecting someone who they saw as a pin-up when they were younger. Say if we were dying in 50 years time, you'd imagine LaToya Jackson or Bruce Springsteen, or whoever it was you personally idolised. Jerry Harrison, something like that. You're passing away and you suddenly start imagining LaToya Jackson. She stretches her hand out to you like a phantom, but she can't save you from the well of death. Or Nine Inch Nails.

Andy: Save you from the well of Nine Inch Nails?

Robyn: That's why we go "nin, nin, nin". It's a reference to Nine Inch Nails. Vera Lynn is a woman, she was a pop star in the War in Britain, the Forces Sweetheart. This song is subtitled 'Vera Lynn', otherwise known as 'The Yip Song', and goes like this.

Band play 'The Yip Song'.

DJ: The memory of Vera Lynn lives on. Very nice.

Robyn: Thank you, hope it sounds all right. Has anyone taped it?

DJ: Yes, we've taped it.

Robyn: Great. We'd like to hear it. It's nice to collect tapes of these and you can check them out. We can, I mean. [This from the man whose manager chases and harasses anyone who might copy a single tape - Aidan]

DJ: For you to play for your kids. Future generations

Robyn: I don't think the ones we've had so far would be particularly interested.

Andy: They're into Nine Inch Nails.

Morris: Mine would like it.

Robyn: Yeah, but your kids listen to our stuff.

DJ: Well, thanks for coming by. Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians, playing an XRT gig tonight at Park West for which tickets are still available-

Robyn: -and probably will be after the show.


Transcribed by Aidan Merritt: any errors, blame me. I've taken out a few of Robyn's "Um, you know, like"s, otherwise the word count would have tripled.

Thanks to Barb for the tapes.

The version of 'Railway Shoes' performed in the final session is also available on the album ONXRT: Live From The Archives Volume 1, if you're a completist with more money than sense.

©1989/92/94 XRT/Positive Vibrations. Not to be reproduced without prior consent.

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