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Short interview with the band about GAF. Print E-mail
Monday, 01 January 1990
Have no idea where this came from. Dates from 1990. Sometimes I feel sorry for
these interviewers . . .

Faithful to The Church
by Robin J. Schwartz

Picture the movie Cabaret crossed with the Mad Hatter's tea party. Now add a
soundtrack with melancholy undertones, sly wit, and chiming guitars. The result:
"Metropolis," the video and first hit from The Church's latest LP, Gold
Afternoon Fix (Arista).

If The Church's music sounds kind of surreal . . . well, it is. Some of it is
simply moody and hypnotic, full of yearning lovers and lonely souls. But some of
it is pure tongue-in-cheek science fiction complete with Godzilia-like sound
effects, snaky middle eastern synth lines, and pun titles like Terra Nova Cain.
"Yeah, that one is sort of Pluto-influenced," says guitarist Marty Willson-Piper
with a chuckle. Blame it on bassist/frontman Steve Kilbey (the one responsible
for the group's weird words). "I like the idea of science fiction in music,"
says Kilbey. "Not ray guns and things, but I think there's room for more of a
Blade Runner type feeling --you know, kind of a dreary future." In fact, if his
music were a place, Kilbey says it would look like his hometown of Sydney,
Australia: hot and gray, with old, crumbling buildings lurking behind a modern
facade.

It was in this dreary setting that The Church first opened its doors ten years
ago. And even though the band had produced five consistently excellent albums,
it remained one of Australia's best-kept secrets until 1988, when its sixth LP,
Starfish, shot up on the U.S. charts with its breakthrough single "Under the
Milky Way." Despite their fondness for eerie atmospheres, the three original
members of The Church are pretty normal -- if you don't count a few quirks.
Willson-Piper, true Brit that he is, can't do an interview without a cup of tea
in his hand and gets literally cross-eyed over the different kinds of milk that
can go into that tea ("Skim milk, half-and-half, full milk -- what about milk
milk?!'' he cries). He also takes great pleasure in being contrary, claiming
"Who wants to hang out with people you agree with? If you do, you're not
stimulating each other. Stick with me, kid," he says, jabbing me in the ribs,
"and you're gonna have yourself an interesting life, 'cause I don't agree with
anything you say. I don't agree with you, but . . . I luuuuv you."

Peter Koppes, the group's other guitarist (and also an Aussie, like Kilbey), is
quiet, but his sharp, ironic cracks are great at breaking up the arguments
Willson-Piper loves to start. And Kilbey is the nasty one (or so he claims). He
describes himself -- with a grin as devilish as his beard -- as a man who's
"moody and enjoys picnics and small dogs." (Or did he say picnics "of" small
dogs?)

The only discernible clue to what gives The Church its distinctive tilt may be
Kilbey's first musical experience. "My parents were very poor," he recalls.
"They only had two records. One was this very surrealistic record about lonely
people by Frank Sinatra, and the other was by Doris Day. I guess if you hear
something three million times between the ages of three and five, it's gonna
leave some kind of impression on you. It left me with a desire to write these
sort of sad, slightly romantic songs with booby traps in them."

Photo caption: The original lineup of The Church (below, from left: Steve
Kilbey, Marty Willson-Piper, and Peter Koppes. Drummer Richard Ploog is taking a
yearlong leave of absence from the band and has been replaced by Jay Dee
Daugherty (formerly with the Patti Smith Group). Now if you're looking for
something cool to do, The Church really knows how to treat its audience to a
jammin' show. Its world tour comes to the U.S. this summer and fall -- expect a
wild crowd.
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