Robyn Hitchcock’s remarkable body of recordings spans more than three decades, beginning with his seminal late-’70s work with post-punk psychedelicists the Soft Boys and continuing with a series of highly regarded albums under his own name and with his backup outfit the Egyptians and, more recently, the Venus 3. Those releases have won Hitchcock an international reputation as a visionary lyricist with an uncanny penchant for incisive whimsy and vivid surrealist metaphor, as well as a world-class tunesmith with a deep affinity for Beatlesque/Byrdsy songcraft.
Hitchcock will be backed by the Venus 3, an all-American ensemble of notable alt-rockers, namely R.E.M.’s Peter Buck (who’s worked sporadically with Hitchcock for more than 25 years) on guitar, Minus 5/Young Fresh Fellows/R.E.M’er Scott McCaughey on bass and Ministry/R.E.M. vet Bill Rieflin on drums. The foursome’s effortless rapport has been showcased on the albums Ole! Tarantula, Goodnight Oslo, and Propellor Time, as well as in the Sundance Channel documentary Sex, Food, Death… and Insects.
“The boys are all happy to take risks, but they build a steady bridge over every ravine,” Hitchcock says of the Venus 3. “Peter can go anywhere I go, and then explain to me how we get out again. Scott is super-warm and the heart of us. Bill is precise, works with a clear mind, dices the beat like a sushi chef and puts in amazing rolls too. Like Davy Jones and Graham Nash, I’m the Englishman of the group.”
Hitchcock seems to be constantly in the midst of a remarkable artistic and career resurgence. At a point at which many veteran artists are either throwing in the towel or coasting on past achievements, Hitchcock has been generating some of the most vibrant and resonant music he’s ever made. He’s also performing for ever more diverse audiences, across the U.S. and U.K., and in Israel, Spain, Italy, Norway, Australia, Japan, and soon, Mexico. Hitchcock is also known for his work on film with director Jonathan Demme.
“You never know when the clock will stop,” Hitchcock reflects. “I will probably never time-travel, heal the sick or levitate, which were the natural ambitions I had as a boy. But I have trained myself to write songs and perform them, and I’m still developing those abilities. I am past my peak as an animal, but not as an artist. Of course, your work doesn’t necessarily improve with age; it just mutates. You have to give birth to those mutations, I guess. So my songs may be no better now than 30 years ago; they’re merely alive in a different way, fed on different emotional nutrients, as I am.”