Church keep on keeping the faith

After 30 years together, The Church still get along.
After 30 years together, The Church still get along.
REMEMBER the hit song from The Church, Under the Milky Way?
Of course you do; it’s been voted the best Australian song of the last 21 years.
The Church shot to international fame with Unguarded Moment in 1981 and scored again in 1987 with Under the Milky Way.
And three decades on The Church’s Steve Kilbey, Peter Koppes and Marty Willson-Piper are still playing together, along with ‘new kid’ Tim Powles, who joined 15 years ago to play drums.
They’ve just released their 23rd album called (Untitled # 23), which Australian Rolling Stone magazine rated five out of five.
Kicking off their Aussie tour in Byron Bay after touring in the States and Canada, Steve Kilbey says it’s a great start to the tour.
“Performing is not only physical, it takes a lot of concentration,” explains Steve, The Church’s lead singer and lyricist.
 “I had a friend who hadn’t performed on stage for a number of years and by the third song and with the help of a cigarette, he couldn’t get up off the floor.”
The Church is not a band that goes on tour to play their hits from the 1980s, even though those songs are on the playlist.
These days their music is full of long instrumental jams.
 “I hated everything the ’80s represented,” says Kilbey.
“My affinity was with the ’60s and ’70s when I was extremely young.”
 “The Beatles’ Strawberry Fields epitomises the style of music that inspires me; music that is weird and beautiful, not your regular meat’n’potatoes.”
So, after nearly 30 years and a sound that stretched from the 1980s neo-psychedelic to today’s prog rock adventures, who are their fans?
“Some bands can be defined by their demographic,” Kilbey explains.
 “Our audience is not a united audience, they are random individuals. They range from the young who just climbed on, to the die-hard fans, to everything in between.”
According to Kilbey, today’s band performs so they can ‘give their audience music that is intelligent and melodic’.
“For me I want to hear strange and beautiful and weird music that takes me to another place. If we have achieved that, then that is the best compliment.
“We should be good not because we have been around for 30 years but good because we get better.
“Old masters like Picasso or Shakespeare kept painting and writing into their old age and they got better and better.
“You should never stop being a ‘new kind of thing’.”
After 30 years together, they may not always be great friends but ‘the band gets along’, Kilbey says.
“We are colleagues who make music.
“Sometimes we are friends but mostly we are a bunch of people like bank robbers: We are all there to do the same job.”

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