Published Feb 01, 2000If Apples In Stereo front-man Robert Schneider had his way, his forthcoming solo album would feature songs co-written with Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks and Andy Partridge. These sorts of things rarely work out as planned, of course. Still, one out of four ain't bad. "When I was a teenager I used to dream about writing songs with Andy Partridge," says Schneider, mere minutes after a two-and-a-half hour telephone session with the legendary XTC craftsman. "The first time I talked to him I was like, ya, I'm mildly familiar with your stuff. In fact, I was gushing and I embarrassed myself."
Apparently Partridge doesn't think Schneider has anything to be embarrassed about. So far, the iconic popfather has collaborated on about two dozen new songs with his novel, Denver-based partner, any number of which could make it onto the 30-year-old Schneider's next record.
"It's been going really well," confirms Schneider, adding the CD will likely be released under the auspices of Robert Schneider's Orchestre Fantastique. Though he won't speculate on a release date, he expects to have the project in the can by June. "We were just going to write a couple songs for it but we've written probably, like, 20-something songs already. So I'll probably use a chunk of that for the solo record."
As fruitful as his work with Partridge has been, Schneider hasn't given up on the rest of his hero hit list just yet. McCartney, Wilson and Parks have all been sent copies of last Apples in Stereo CD, The Discovery of a World Inside the Moone, along with letters of interest.
"Brian Wilson is in the works, but I'm not expecting anything to happen," explains Schneider. "I'm pretty sure Paul McCartney isn't going to happen because his manager got it and I never heard back. Sir Paul never called me, so I imagine he probably thought that it was shite, or he didn't hear it and his manager thought it was shite. His manager probably thought it didn't measure up nearly as well to Sade or something. Van Dyke Parks really liked our record so I thought he might be interested in doing something at some point."
Schneider says an ongoing email exchange with revered Kiwi Chris Knox is showing promise as well. Prior to making AT&T's dreams come true with Partridge, Schneider's collaboration efforts (outside of his band and community of friends) were limited to a session with Japanese whiz kid Keigo Oyamada (aka Cornelius). Schneider, along with Apples drummer (and wife) Hilarie Sidney, travelled to Japan to contribute to Cornelius's brilliant 1998 CD Fantasma. As rewarding an experience as that was, Schneider says he's digging the long-distance routine in a big way.
"It's probably a little bit easier to collaborate over the phone because there's not that sense of awkwardness," he explains. "Like, what's the other person thinking? Are they trying to give me some signals? There's none of that. It's pretty honest, too, and there's no beating around the bush. It's just like, "Let's try something else.' It's very friendly and you can sort of cut the bullshit or whatever."
Fans coming out to Schneider's Exclaim! Anniversary appearance in Winnipeg will likely be among the first to hear some of his new solo material live. "I'll be playing acoustically and I'll probably do some Apples songs and some of my solo songs," says Schneider, adding he may bring along some familial accompaniment. "Hilarie might do a couple songs with me. I'm not sure. It's kind of difficult for us to work out getting up there because we have our baby (Max, born this past Christmas Day), so I'm not sure how it's going to pan out. We're going to kind of play it by ear."