Once he comes up with an arrangement, he has to separate each part and write it down in notation for the musicians who will play the instruments in the final recording. "This is where my piano lessons come in useful," he says. "I can write out scores without any problem. It's just another string to my bow, if you'll pardon the pun."
As much fun as he has with these projects, he's quick to point out that his favourite instrument is still the guitar. He also notes that Andy Partridge has been making demos that already have embellishments, which leaves less room for him to work. "In the past it used to be just an acoustic guitar and a cassette," he says, "but now it's like the whole thing is virtually finished." However, Gregory doesn't belabour this point because his influence is still there in the final product.
"Listening to the last album, Nonsuch, a lot developed in rehearsal that was not on the original demo."
This level-headed approach to a problem that would have egos clashing in other bands reveals Gregory's respect for his bandmates. It also illustrates his role in keeping XTC together. Considering what this band has been through over the past 15 years, it's amazing that they're still around. Gregory, Partridge and Moulding have butted heads with record companies, suffered through debt, and have even been at each other's throats now and then. Still, they've managed to work things out and continue making fresh, insightful music. "The band that plays together stays together," says Gregory. "There is a certain chemistry between the three of us. It would be a shame to upset that."
When it comes to assessing the work he's done with XTC, Gregory says he needs five or six years to pass before he can make an accurate judgement. "When you're making a record, you're living with the songs for six months solid. By the time the record comes out, you never want to hear them again because you've just had enough! But I would say I'm pretty proud of what we've achieved on record so far."