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Questions With Answers: Marty Willson-Piper answers fans questions Print E-mail
Wednesday, 26 March 1997

This is a collection of answers to fan questions by Marty, put together between 1996 and 1998.  We haven't formally asked Marty to add to this since then, but perhaps in future we might do so :)

Some of the links might not work any more, sorry.

Marty Willson-Piper

Questions With Answers


March 26th 1998
The All About Eve mailing list recently had a posting from Julianne Regan in which she recounted her experiences with Marty joining the band. It fits in here quite nicely :) The document lives on the In The Clouds site - my thanks go to them.
March 25th 1998
 Brian Hamill asked a lot of questions !
Dear Marty, Hope you are well. I've been fascinated with your tone and style. Got some questions: What sort of settings do you use ( guitar & amp) when using the E-bow? The only tip I've gotten before has been to turn the tone down on the guitar. Do you use compression?How do you avoid the noise it causes over a single-coil pickup? Did you ever try going string -to-string with it for the sort of cello effect?

When writing a song, how do know when you've got a guitar part that will be conducive to, or inspire, a vocal melody? Do you change keys afterward to match your vocal range? I've noticed that the underlying chords on many songs are simple when you dissect them, and the magic is in the vocals and melody.

You once said in an interview that you were "not the dream-monger in this band". How do you feel about that now? Your music seems to have become more "spacey " since then- especially on things like 'It Could Be Anyone' (I think those are your caveman vocals toward the end). I think that's the best song on MATS.

In regard to your "jam-with" list- what do you think of Pete Townshend? He's done some great stuff, especially on 'Scoop' and 'Another Scoop'. He's amazing on the acoustic. Also, what's your favorite work of Robert Fripp's? Do you like his stuff on Scary Monsters?

Well, I appreciate your indulging me. Are you ever going to play in America again? You are my favorite guitarist in my favorite band, and I've never gotten to see you play live.
Take care, and thanks!--
Brian Hamill

Marty replied

Dear Brian,
First of all,we have to get signed before we talk about where we will play.I always saw America as the place where the most people get the idea,but that maybe because there is more people there than anywhere else except perhaps China and another couple of Asian countries where we are historically disliked.Something to do with the abuse of paisley and my dislike of red vegetables.

I like all of Fripps playing on everything.My most dissappointing gig though was the reformed King Crimson with Belew.There should not be an American singer in this band!Can you imagine Fairport Convention with John Prine! Or how about Pink Floyd with Jerry Garcia.Anyway,I hate his voice ,I hate his terrible stupid lyrics,I hate his guitar playing and I hate his suits.He drowned Fripp out with his guitar,his voice and his overbearing presence. Tragic.

Okay ,now this all is to do with their shows around their last record.I got Thrak but not Vroom.Have I got this right?One was like a jamming record and the other was the album proper.Anyway I got the jamming one but after the dissappointment of the concert I didn't bother with the studio album.Did I miss out ?Was it any good?I don't actually remember despising the three other records with Belew although the one about Sex.Typical New York analyst take (maybe he was being ironic!)His idea seemed to me to be like a tenth rate David Byrne.Who is bye the way one of the only American artist who gets irony!

Enough,I'll have to go back and have a listen to the Belew King Crimson albums and try and figure out if I like them or not .I just think that in the live concert most of Fripp was lost. Fripp though through it all remains supreme.I love his guitar on Red, magnificent tone, great parts.Inventive.Starless and Bible Black..... ,you know I have most of his records.I bought Exposure the day it came out.I could go on about his approach and style forever.The last thing I got by him was the live album by him and Sylvian-Damage and I love that. Scary Monsters the last great Bowie album....Say no more.

On your other questions,I don't change the tones on my guitar to use the E Bow.It usually sounds pretty good with my standard settings.I've answered another question about my gear,settings,amps etc.Whenever I want a cello effect I've used a Gizmo because the E Bow can be quite unpredictable going from string to string,but we like unpredictable because of the happy accidents.As far as noise on single coil p/ups,it's all part of the fun isn't it?

Dreamonger or not!!!! I don't think It could Be Anyone is spacey in a dreamy way.It's more scarey,lonely,stark,disconcerting,alienating isn't it?

You never know that your part will inspire a melody or not.I come up with a lot of parts on Church records and Steve has different reactions.Sometimes he sings the same as my melody sometimes it inspires a mood and he sings around it and sometimes he can't fit a melody around it at all.Often things I thought would be easy to sing around prove difficult and vice versa.It's hard to give you examples of things that didn't work because they obviously didn't make it to records but ones that were seemingly difficult and were a great success!...

MMmm now let's see????....yes....I remember Steve commenting on how was he going to figure out a melody on NSEW with my busy melody line going all the way through it ,but look happened with that one.Reptile is another song where all the instruments are playing a different part, but with the vocal it all locks together like a jigsaw.A couple of early songs where Steve wrote the guitar melody himself and slotted around it were Constant In Opal and One Day again quite busy parts but somehow it just worked.

I think the trick is to trick yourself!You come up with some intriguing part and think wow that's different but when you've put it all together and recorded it you find the song was just a three chorder.That's often how you know it was any good!And no,we don't generally change keys to fit vocal ranges.We may start with a capo but more to give a different sound to the same chord shapes. Bye
Marty


Jason asked a question which, unfortunately, I've lost. But it seems to have been about acoustic Rickenbackers.

Dear Jason,
When I had my sponsorship deal with Rickenbacker they didn't make an acoustic and I did talk to them about the idea but that was a long time ago and I wasn't aware until very recently that they had put one out.So,I can't help you on this at all because not only have I never played one ,I haven't even seen one.

My only Rickenbacker acoustic story is this: When we did the Milky Way Video I wanted to use a Ricky acoustic that I'd seen in the Rickenbacker Museum in their factory.It had a weird arrow shaped headstock and I asked them if I could borrow it for the vid.Somewhere the wires got crossed and the Rick man arrived at the shoot with the one I ended up using.The one I used was more amazing in a vintage car kind of a way.It was from 1948.

It was like an old Lincoln,but the one I wanted to use was like a Ford Anglia,more sixties looking which was more what I was after and if anybody out there can make any sense of my constant car analogies they may also like to know that I am learning to drive and have yet to pass my test so it must preoccupy my mind!


Ed Doxtator : How do you beat the frustration in songwriting when something's "not quite right"? When you have a picture, or in this case, a feeling in your head you want to convey and you can't quite get your hands around it?

Dear Ed, Brian asked a question similar to this but the answer to your question is that maybe a song is never quite done or right!You just at some stage have to stop working on it.It maybe depends on the kind of songwriter you are mixed with the kind of person you are.One persons perfect finished song is another persons awful demo.You can't really ask somebody else how to get exactly what you want because all the decisons are yours.You have to be the judge.

Here's my advice.If you can't make your song work,write another one.
Bye
Marty


March 11th 1998
Doug bought the guitar Marty used in the A Different Man video. He asked about exactly which tracks Marty used it on.

Dear Doug,
Glad to hear you got the guitar okay,it's always a relief when you send something worth that much and it actually arrives. You asked me a few questions so I'll answer them one by one.

Seeing Stars no longer exists.It was just a one off project and there won't be any touring.

If I rack my brains.............I think the original guitar was on the albums between The Blurred Crusade and Starfish but although it was on A Different Man I'd honestly be guessing as to which other tracks it was on.It was though, my main 12 String until it got stolen so most of the 12 string tracks would have it.I do have another one which I got a little before the red one which is a blonde '66 which I used on TFFY EP,but sometime after that the I bought the red one and I probably used them both from then on in the studio.

When you say that some flakes have fallen off,I presume you mean on the chrome?I'm not really much of an expert on that kind of thing,but I'm sure as the guitar is generally in such good condition that you could take it to any guitar shop and have that sorted out for next to nothing and have the guitar like new.(Well it is new,It was new under the bed for 10 years!)

Doug also asked him about the chords in "To Where I Am Now". What he has is E, some sort of A (x02200), and some sort of F (xx4200).
I don't really understand your chord codes but what I can tell you is that if you move that E shape up the neck and have a fret between the 1st and 2nd & 3rd fingers you'll find the chord.The third chord is the same shape as the second .

Thanks for the help with buying the guitar ,hope you enjoy owning it.
Bye
Marty

25th Feb 1998
Andy asked Marty about the EMI recording studio in Sydney - does the sign outside really cover the whole building ? He also asked about Karmic Hit.

Dear Andy,
Yes,the sign at EMI does occupy the entire building,although these days it is only a mastering suite as far as I know and has nothing to do with EMI anymore.There were three main studios there when we did the bulk of our recording.It was 'A','B' and I think 'M'.'M' was mainly a mixing studio with a great Neve desk.It didn't have a live recording room just a small booth for overdubs if you needed it.We mixed Sometime Anywhere there.The first five Church LP's and Priest were recorded in either A or B or both.A being the major tracking studio with a great big live room.They were all mixed there too apart from the first one which Bob Clearmountain mixed in America.(GAF & Starfish were recorded and mixed in LA.)When we recorded there(at least the first five albums)it was also EMI's offices.I seem to remember Castle Music being there too.Sometime in the late eighties or early nineties they moved the offices to a place called Crow's Nest on Sydney's North Shore,but the studio's remained and soldiered on until eventually they just couldn't sustain it anymore."The times they are a changin'" (For studios anyway).I'm not really sure when they ceased to be under EMI's control but the only winner seems to have been the silly great sign that probably cost some poor struggling group's album budget to erect,and hey,if they spent more time with the music and less with the erections they may still have been there today.

I don't really understand the next question.......Are good studios hard to come by in Sydney as most Church and Church related stuff,including the new album are mixed there???? Well, firstly the new album wasn't mixed there because it doesn't exist anymore.As far as most Church stuff being done there,well initially that's true ,but we were signed to Parlophone which is an EMI company so we used their studios,but when that deal was over we only recorded and mixed one record and mixed another there.....didn't we???????Otherwise none of my stuff was done there and I don't know if that much of the other guys stuff was either.I'm probably not the one to ask about the studio's in Sydney as I haven't lived there since 1985 but I would have thought that there were some really good studios there.Tim would know better than me.

There were two different locations for Karmic Hit.The first was a house in Surry Hills(No 'E' in Surry) and the second the present location in Rozelle.Priest was not the first Church album to be recorded at Karmic Hit,Sometime Anywhere was,and it was the Surry Hills Location.Magician and the new one were recorded at the Rozelle location which was incidentally called Electric Avenue before and Ed Kuepper did a lot of his records there(I hope this is true!I'm sure somebody told me this)

When I moved back to England my Stockholm studio came with me and was set up in Somerset near Glastonbury for about a year but since I've moved back to London it's all in storage with my record collection waiting for the time that I can find and/or afford to have a place to set it all up again.

That's it,
bye
Marty


1st Feb 1998
Tom asked Marty to talk a bit about his guitars and amps.

Dear Tom,
The short answer to your long question is to tell you what I like to use.I'm not very good on the model numbers of Ricks,but I've found that any 60's Rick that I've bought 6 or 12 sounds a hundred times better to my ears than any after that decade.My black 12 string Mcguinn re issue from the eighties though is a particularly nice guitar and plays better than any other modern Rick I've touched and has a sound unlike the 60's guitars.It has a special chime about it and whereas the newer guitars can be characterless but almost posh like BMW's and the old ones demandingly characterful like old Jags that guitar is like a Maserati saloon.Inconspicuous quality.

My favourite set up I like to use is two Vox AC 30's early sixties models with two of the tone controls on the back ,an Ibanez UE 405 Multi Effects Unit with two outs for stereo with the compressor, stereo chorus and analog delay pretty much on all the time but only just,a volume pedal ,two of the early yellow Boss distortion pedals ,the ones with only two knobs.I also like to use my Watkins copycat and my 301 and 501 space echoes but they are always to quirky and bulky and fragile to travel with so I haven't used them that much with The Church.I just used my old boss stereo chorus/tremolo pedal on the recent acoustic tour which Pete and I both used to use a lot in the early days of the band, but you can have overload problems with them if you put too much signal into it and my pedal lasted 6 gigs before breaking down at the last show.As I said a lot of this old gear can be pretty fragile and that's why we all need a studio and a great technician to be able to use this stuff regularly and keep it all functioning.Like old Jags they need constant attention.

On the the earlier records I was either using an old AC 30 by itself or hooked into an Orange top that I had for a while (or was it Pete's?) anyway I used it,or an oldish 50 watt Marshall head which I used with a Fender Bassman cabinet.I don't know how long all that lasted and which particular studio albums had what,but I did experiment with that kind of set up until after Heyday when I started using just two AC 30's.In recent years with The Church and All About Eve I've been using an AC 30 hooked into a Roland 120 stereo chorus which I don't particularly like by itself but with a grungey Vox it can bring a bit of clarity and sparkle into the live sound especially.

On guitars again I used a solid body Rick with a Khaler Trem for a while that had the fine tuning near the bridge because I found I just couldn't get the eternal sustain out of the semi acoustics.I've always had to have an amp set up that allows me to get a good clear sound out of a 12 string and alot of sustain out of a 6 string and that solid body Rick seemed to allow me to do that for songs like Chaos while I was still able to get a sound from the semi acoustic for Reptile.So in fact I would have three different guitar sounds without actually changing my amps.On the last couple of Church tours I've used my Strat as my electric 6 as it kind of does the job of a solid and a semi Rick at the same time and as I could only really bring two guitars with me I felt it was a good compromise.In a perfect world I would just use Ricks live.My black 12 a couple of old semi 6 strings,one solid body ,but it's a lot of guitars to cart around.Actually I'd probably also have a Shergold 12 as an extra 12 string and have an old Rick 12 as well but I had two such guitars stolen and I try to leave the old and the unusual at home these days for use in the studio.I have a beautiful 1960 Rick 6 which is all heart that I've used on the Starfish/GAF LP's which I try and use in the studio when I can but it needs an armed escort wherever it goes.I also have a 1966 red Rick 6 with three pickups that was butchered before I bought it with a badass bridge but the butchering has given it a really great twangy sound as the scale has been shortened.A happy accident and a great guitar but an abomination to purists.

I've still got a few great guitars that I hope I never have to sell.A 66 blonde 12 string.A great, 'fits like a glove'Jazzmaster that I bought off Pete,an old semi Burns 12, a heavy newish Les Paul Custom with Strat and standard Les Paul P/ups on it which has a wide range of tones.

Yes I do seem to prefer the toaster P/ups but I have a great little cheap solid body Ricky with the high gain P/ups with which Dare [Mason] played the chugging rhythm on Luscious Ghost and sounds great. Pete and I have always used E-Bows too.We like them alot and I for a while had a Gizmotron on my Strat and that's why that guitar only has two knobs instead of three on it and a wacking great hole in the body as you have to do some pretty serious alterations to get it to sit on your guitar.It finally fell apart as it was basically a hunk of plastic but I never put the other knob back on the guitar .I'd like to get another Gizmo but hey Mr Godley and Mr Creme ,send me the serious metal prototype and not the flimsy production line model if you please.


Tracey asked Marty why more guitarists don't use 12-string guitars.

I think there's a couple of reasons(or more) why people don't play 12 strings.One,you can't bend notes (didn't stop me).Two,people are worried about the tuning.Three,they are seen as a kind of a novelty or something that you may just use on one song.You talked about the Takamine's,and I think you do see a lot more acoustic 12's being used but not that often and as far as electrics go,well only now and then. Tom Petty uses them quite alot and Mike Campbell but they are huge Mcguinn fans and that's the connection.

I'm happy to say that I play quite alot of 12 on the new album.I didn't even have one with me for the last LP.Actually I didn't have any of my guitars except for a Tak 12 acoustic which was terribly frustrating knowing that I had this great guitar collection sitting unused in Europe.


Anthony Pooley asked Marty which musicians, particularly guitarists, he would like to jam with if given the chance.

Dear Anthony,
I actually don't have a dream list of who to jam with.I'd rather be asked than do the asking.But as you said particularly guitarists it could be time for my all time favourite guitarists list!I'm sure I will miss someone I love out but if I do I'm sure Brian wouldn't mind adding their names later.

Here goes in alphabetical order to avoid distinction for being top of the list.

Robert Fripp
Dave Gilmour
Peter Green
George Harrison
Paul Kossoff
Harvey Mandel
Bill Nelson
Jimmy Page
Terje Rypdal
Richard Thompson
Tom Verlaine
Neil Young

This list is not about their skill or genius but about the character of what they do.

I suppose that there are some obvious omissions who have tons of character like...

Jimi Hendrix
Brian May
Carlos Santana
Perhaps
Mick Ronson
Roy Buchannan
Tony Mcphee
Ritchie Blackmore
Angus Young
Nick Drake
Bert Jansch
Johnny Greenwood
Bernard Butler
Roger Mcguinn

But for some reason one painting reaches out to you even if you can see what's great about all the others in the gallery. I don't want to jam with them though.I just want to listen to them.

Bye
Marty


December 18th 1997
Scot described how he perceived the song Grind , and also said
I've got a copy of Heyday on CD which has got those two extra songs on it - which is great to be able to hear more music but on an album like that which I find such a complete entity, as opposed to a collection of songs, I feel it breaks that unity up a bit ~ and I usually programme my CD player to skip them! - I was just wondering do you find that too, and do you have any say over what the record companies put on re-issues etc? ~ not to mention art work etc - the ads inside the cheaper re-issue of P=A

Dear Scot,
It is really wonderful that a piece of music has done all those things to you.Your ears and your brain are one organ.

On the Heyday question.I know what you mean about continuity,but everybody seems to want extra tracks too.You can't have both ,but by some bizarre twist of fate in this case you can! The American Arista re release of Heyday doesn't include those two extra tracks.So get searching. On this subject I heard somewhere that they were going to re issue the Bowie albums AGAIN,for this very reason.Fair enough.It's good to have the vinyl for the cover art and warm sound, a tape for the car, a CD with extra tracks for interests sake and a CD without the extra tracks for continuity.Don't you think?

Bye
Marty

By the way I didn't know there were adverts in some of the later issues of the CD's.I don't just not get asked about them,I don't get sent them either.

December 4th 1997
Scott McPhie : I was wanting to know who wrote the lead break on Grind, and who performed it on the recording - I'd always attributed it to Peter in my head, but I think I've only ever seen Marty play it live

Dear Scot,
Yes it is me who wrote and played all the lead bits on Grind.I suppose you thought that it was Peter because the arpeggio part on that song is 12 string ,but this is one rare moment when Pete plays my Rickenbacker 12 string.If you notice when we do this one live Pete usually comes strolling over to get my guitar.I can't think of another example of Pete playing 12 string on an album,although he may have done.He did used to play it when we did 10.000 miles live but I don't think he played 12 on the record.

How do you know when a song you are writing and/or recording is "finished" ? And once a song has been recorded and released, are you ever tempted to change it ? It struck me that while recording a song you can do *anything* to it - change instrumentation, lyrics, song structure etc. But once its been released nobody ever changes their songs. I just wondered if you'd ever wanted to add or change a verse, skip a middle 8 etc...

Dear Brian,
As far as knowing when a song is finished?Well I suppose it just becomes obvious when it is done.It's like cooking isn't it!You add the ingredients and then taste the sauce! Et voila! There has been times when the dish has hit the table and you might have thought that the song could've done with a little more pepper.GAF is an example of that.The problem there though was that the head chef wanted to try some new packet sauces that he'd heard about,you know the ones that are advertised on television.The ones that you rush out and buy the last minute because of some disaster with the real thing.you know the scene,you serve it up and the important guest thinks your cooking is marvellous and you just wink into the camera. Except any one with half a taste bud would know the difference immediately!

It's funny having just answered a question about Grind,because that was a fantastic recipe that was really badly cooked using a lot of synthetic ingredients when the fresh vegetables were left in the cupboard.I think I may have taken this analogy just a little too far.

Mixing is extremely important too.That is in a musical not culinary sense,though I dare say...............No, before I get back into the kitchen! Seance was a very peculiar mix. Loads of triggered drums.The machine gun snare on Electric Lash for example .It didn't sound anything like that when we recorded it.It just sounded like a normal real snare drum.That record was mixed by Nick Launay when he was going through his bang/crash phase.We've all wondered what that record would have sounded like if it had been mixed keeping the organic sounds that we recorded the songs with.Having said that a lot of people love that album with it's stark mood and hard drum sounds.

Arrangements ,well sometimes you might think a song should have done something that you only realized later,an extra verse,an earlier chorus,a better solo whatever but you generally sort that out as you're going along.It can be difficult with The Church though because we tend to arrange a song before it is actually written.We have intros and verses,middle eights and choruses,bridges and outros all connected together and the vocal melodies and words are added later.Things usually work out for us though.I suppose that's the experience of having made alot of records.If though in the worst case there 's a part that you wished you had never put in there because the vocal melody has suggested something different in the dynamics or the arrangement, then you can always edit the offending piece out.Sometimes that doesn't work and you have to live with it but you can do amazing things with editing and changing things around with today's technology.The other thing is with us that this formula tends to get some happy accidents happening that maybe would be lost if you thought about it too hard.

December 2nd 1997
I asked Marty whether the recent Refo:mation album had any influence on the recording of the new Church album.
I think from what I know of The Refo record (Trevor Boyd has my copy and I haven't really heard it properly) it's more of a "jamming with words LP", whereas the new Church LP we've written a record with more real songs on it .That's the type of record we all wanted to make.

28th May 1997
This next message was a reply to an email from someone who thanked Marty deeply for the influence that his music had on him. Unfortunately I don't have the original message so I can't be more specific.

Got your message .It's hard for a lot of people to tell someone how much they like them,because it often leaves the recipient speechless,creating an impossible situation.Suddenly you've defeated the object and you realize it was all better left unsaid.This is just to let you know that your message got through and for some reason in this weird universe it got a response when although genuinely appreciated it generally wouldn't be replyed to.And now no more needs to be spoken.We just have to keep on creating and you have to continue being moved.Happy to hear we made a difference.

Love your music.
MWP

8th April 1997
In reply to a comment about seeing a different video clip for The Unguarded Moment...
Yes,there was another filmclip for Unguarded Moment.It was directed by a bloke called Christopher French.I call him a bloke because he seemed to think he was some other kind of creature.He dressed only in black but a sort of early eighties designer black.He had a black car and I'm sure he only drank black milk.We discussed with him doing a moody video and in his wisdom shot half the vid out of focus the remaining half having no mood at all.He told us we each had to wear a different colour so that the "moody"sections had texture.Hence, Pete in green, me in blue and I can't remember what other fabulous colours of the rainbow the other two were graced with.We ended up wearing clothes that didn't belong to us,chosen for their colour rather than their style for the sake of the video's flimsy concept.We looked ridiculous.The video was awful and we canned it immediately.

The only interesting thing about this video is that from a historical aspect it had the one and only celluloid appearence of our first drummer Nick Ward. This was the first time we'd ever done a video and we kind of let them call the shots(ha ha).It set us on the road to our reputation for being slightly awkward,learning from this experience that if you let someone outside of the band make artistic decisions not only will they walk all over you but they'll do it in a pair of rather ugly tasteless shoes.I was always quite suprised that we got away with stopping it's release as we were a brand new band,but I guess it was as bad as we,the band, thought.Of course it didn't get TOTALLY canned,these things never do.It appeared here and there on late night video shows and seemingly wormed it's way into the occasional video jukebox.

Since this day The Church have had a love/hate relationship with videos.We've done a couple of good ones(Tantalized comes to mind)and a lot of average to bad ones.The phrase "Evil Necessity" springs to mind.There never seems to be any area where we can have creative input,which is maybe our own fault as you 've got to have an idea to get it executed.We always ended up executing other people's ideas and they in turn often ended up visually executing us.We tried(mostly) to make the best of the video's we did,but I personally would be happy if I never made a video again.(I know I speak for Steve too).

18th February 1997
Is there a sufficient number of Church fans to 'guarantee' a profit on every album you release ? In the Seance discussion of one of Marty's messages, Al Cementon remarked....


I wish people could overcome their fear of the "public". It's this inhibition which gives the public its power. Why can't we just forget about them and let them STARVE!! They've been looting our creativity for long enough...

Marty replied...
In regards to you question of whether we have reached the point of having sufficient interest in our work .I consider myself very lucky to have reached so many people time and time again with such an interesting group.Often being thought provoking can go against you in a commercial environment,but going by the recent returns of the post G.A.F. Church albums we have reached the point where we can not guarantee making a living out of our creative output.

To comment on Al's point,the public is a scary beast and difficult to ignore when you rely on them to buy enough of your current record to justify investment in your next. At this stage The Church although perceived by some as a good, as well as successful band, does not have a record deal and nobody is exactly banging down the door. So we retire to contemplate our options.Steve and I are lucky because we both have our own studios and can put something together that only needs to sell moderately well (subjective) for us to benefit financially. But since Feedback went down and we made nothing from the last two years of our work,we are somewhat on the back foot.We don't have ready made back up records just in case the last one falters.We still have to make the next record.It isn't cheap as we live in different countries. The will is there,the money is not.

As far as my own ability to be self sufficient,I live in Deepest Somerset and although I have my own studio I cannot entice people to work on a record for 3 months that I don't have a deal for, for the price of the green fields and fresh air. So I came here to learn all the technical side of things.

Engineering,Midi,Sequencers,Sampling,Computers,Programing,Recording technique.This as well as playing all the instuments and writing a lot of good songs that people(the public) will like,buy and want to come back for more is time consuming (albeit extremely enjoyable especially when the tune finally arrives on the tape), and although I don't have to work in a bank (which ironically is the closest I would get to cash at the moment) one does not live on fresh air and green fields alone.

skeleton.gif 5.6 KThe term solo project certainly typifies my current state. Although it is about the music,a great chord sequence doesn't pay the studio electricity bill if the 200 people who regularly view this web site are the only ones who buy the record. It would be naive to expect all the people who bought Starfish to independently search out all the Church members recordings as most of them will have moved onto some other high profile group.I find that I can perhaps stupidly frustrate myself by contemplating the concepts of media blitz=record sales when we all know Priest=Aura.

14th February 1997
Would Marty be interested in using the Internet as a way of gathering a list of buyers who could purchase new albums directly from him ?

Is this not the future? Distributing our records(and any other items of interest) straight from one's studio to the willing fingers of those who desire it? It's just having a substantial amount of people wanting what you do. They have to know you are there. Record companies have always had the upper hand on creative people because with promotion they are able to get to a significant amount of the public.

There are of course those discerning folk who don't need to be bludgeoned into buying something. Those of us who don't have to hear it on the radio to recognise its worth. But it's something of an exclusive club of the inquisitive. I have bought hundreds of records of bands I've never heard of,and although I've got some shockers ,I've managed to uncover some records I love such as "Hat" by The Nits. A 6 track Ep by this Dutch band that I never tire of. I mean who'd buy a record by a band called The Nits?

There's so much out there that people can't even keep up with the stuff that has a high profile.It wasn't so long ago that I looked through the US top 10 and didn't know most of the names.But I do have all the Robert Wyatt lp's along with most of the And Also The Trees albums and two of the hard to find 22 Pistepirkko records. Hey,I loved that Crowded House single "Not The Girl You Think You Are" too but the profile or whether a group is commercial or obscure,noisy or melodic hasn't ever come into the equation for me but I think it does for most.I eat ECM records for breakfast whereas the public eats the DJ's personality.If we could overcome these phenomena ,then the future is ours.

Marty


12 Feb 1997
I asked Marty about his new studio, which he'd started learning how to use. Could he operate it solo yet ?

I'm replying to this particular note you sent me as it's the oldest one.As to the points about the studio.Yes,I can operate it myself although I haven't really got into a system of recording.I'm just about to tackle midi,samplers,sequencers and the like,so although I have already recorded 3 or 4 songs I'll be getting into the "real" stuff when I've mastered the cockpit fully.Learning all the time.

The Seeing Stars LP is making some progress.It's been mastered and the artwork is at the first proof stage.I'm very happy with it.I hope the world will share my joy! I'll keep you posted on release dates etc.

I'm going to try and get into this backlog of questions.I don't know if you know but the company who took 25,000 copies of us in the States [The Magician Among The Spirits album] went down without paying us,so apart from occupying alot of mental space it has really left us in a financial crisis. That's why I'm in the studio every day,learning and creating.It's the only way out,as well as immensely pleasureable.

Did this mean the band had effectively given away 25 000 copies of the album ?
I suppose we did give them away,but although it looks grim,maybe we can recover some of the stock.Time will tell.

I can only hope that the Seeing Stars project doesn't go the same ugly way.It's quite a different situation.One lives in hope.

Marty Willson-Piper

Questions With Answers Volume 1

This is a summary of the answers given by Marty in response to questions that have been emailed to him. If you would like to send him a question please send it to me and I'll forward to him. Obviously if the question is already listed here it'd be best not to send it in again :-)

For some of the earlier answers I didn't actually keep the questions, but they're pretty easy to figure out.

You might also like to read Volume 2, which began in February 1997.


26th November 1996
I'm afraid I've lost the questions for this answer :-( But I think it came from a Finnish guy who asked Marty about his work with Brix Smith, formerly of The Fall.

I thought I may celebrate a question from Finland by listening to Finnish music all day.So I'm listening to 22 Pistepirkko (That's ladybird I think?) This is one of my fave groups. They are odd! Weird and straight at the same time.I've seen them live a couple of times in Sweden.Once at the smallest bar in the universe and once on a huge stage at Hultsfred festival. They're a three piece. The keyboard player alternates between bass and keys.They sing in English.They are a mixture between Smashing Pumpkins,Porno for Pyros,The The and Country blues.I'm listening to Big Lupu(Thanks Veda Honkanen) but can also recommend Bare Bone Nest.There are others.Anyone out there got them?

We've played in Finland a few times.Last time Steve and I did the acoustic thang there.We played Turku,Helsinki and Tampere.In Helsinki we played in this rather large Town Hall right in the centre. Finland gave the world the sauna and one of the world's strangest languages. Apart from Jukka Tolonen,Wigwam and Hanoi Rocks.This could be another list, albeit a shorter one.Unless you include racing drivers and football players,Mika Hakkinen and Litmanen who plays for Ajax. Famous Finn's! Neil and Tim are of course from an even smaller country. I've got a record in the studio called 'The Shape Of Finn's To Come' which I haven't played for a really long time.

Who knows any Finnish writers? Asking that has made me think of Uma Thurman because of Henry and June. Not forgetting Geena Davies' husband who is a film director called Rene .. who apparently gets mobbed he's so famous there.

So to Utapc.Is that your name?

I actually worked with Susanna before Brix.They are old chums.Last year Brix was playing bass with Susanna's little acoustic group around LA. I wrote a song with Susanna called Why Ever Did You Stay which although she didn't use I really liked.The thing with her is that she has such a characterful voice but it often comes across as twee with the kind of soppy or poppy songs she sings.As a folk singer though she is really great. You should hear her do To Sir With Love acoustic. Effortless ,rich poignant tones.I first heard her sing on this early eighties compilation of the then underground indie luminaries of the West Coast psychedelic revival called'Rainy Day'.She sang I'll Keep It With Mine and I'll Be Your Mirror. Put together by David Roback there was no hint that she would become a mega pop babe sex symbol with loads of number 1's.After Steinberg and Kelly,my song just wasn't commercial enough but I wrote the kind of song with her that I wanted her voice to sing.

My relationship with Brix came about because of Susanna.Brix was looking for some one to write with and Susanna recommended me when my name came up during a meeting with Jeff Jacquin our then manager.We got together in the Peer music studios in LA and since then we have written together again with us both living in London.Andy from AAE on bass on a couple of tracks and Dare on the faders.We have written about 15 songs and are still looking for a record deal.We had a couple of hitches .We were a hair away from signing to One Little Indian and then the A&R man left and obvously took his enthusiasm for the project with him.

I really like what we have done together but the other hitch came when I told Brix that I didn't feel I could slog around the traps to try and get signed which really was the next thing we had to do.At the moment it's on hold but as we move to the country to get the studio going, Brix is one of the people I'd like to entice into coming down there. I'm not sure what the future holds for us.She is no longer playing with The Fall.

In a perfect world one makes their own records, in their own studio with whoever they want and then sells them semi independently ,through mail order and a distributor.But,that ugly word 'promo' keeps on coming into the equation. At the moment it's at the stage of plugging the 24 track up, which is a long way from checking that HMV in Glasgow got their order.

On the subject of Never Swallow Stars nee Seeing Stars,for those that don't know.When All About Eve split up we were in an old converted barn in Herefordshire. Basically Julianne went back to London and we started writing songs.We had a 16 track and a large freezing room.We just went in their and jammed.We started to get quite a few basic tracks together and I started writing words and singing them.It's recorded more or less live and then a few overdubs here and there.It's now 3 or 4 years old.I've lost track.It's a real saga.We are hopefully going to be putting it out through Border Music in Sweden in the early part of next year.Keep you posted.

Love Marty

21st November 1996

Graham asked whether The Church will ever play at an English rock festival, such as Glastonbury, now that Marty has moved to England.

Dear Brian and Graham
Coincidentally we've just been down to Glastonbury and the studio for a few days to see the carnival(surreal) and get some more record boxes unpacked.Knee deep in Amon Duul albums!

We've never played any English festivals.We don't have the resources to play at Glastonbury.We have no record company in England and so no financial support.It would be really expensive with all the flights from Australia and gear etc.We would need a profile,a record and a record company. None of which I could imagine being in place by then.The studio is only a couple of miles away from the festival site and there's more chance of being'in there' than 'on there'.

We did meet the vicar of Pilton not so long go.I might ask him to say a prayer for us next time I see him.Maybe he can talk to God about getting on Creation.

Love Marty

[Brian adds: Sorry about the gratuitous link to God ! I couldn't help it ! :-)]

I asked Marty about his experiences when he worked with Dave Gilmour (of Pink Floyd fame) on the All About Eve album "Touched By Jesus". His answer was much wider in scope !

Julianne had written to Dave Gilmour to ask him to produce the All About Eve album.His answer interestingly was apparently "No,I don't really like producing but I'll come down and play a solo for you".We were at Jacob's studos in Surrey and the phone rang and somebody shouted out "Julianne phone, it's Dave Gilmour".A couple of weeks later we were at another Surrey studio called Ridge Farm and that's where he graced us with his presence. Punk never made me desert Pink Floyd.The little mentioned albums between Syd Barrett and Dark Side Of The Moon, More,Obscured By Clouds,Atom Heart Mother,Umma Gumma and Meddle(Yeah Saucer too and I love this record.It's just that they sound like they are experimenting in their ruffs!) are intriguing musical adventures that span the distance between the lunacy of the sixties and the victory of the studio,or the "formica mantra" period as Julian Cope put it.Before Alan Parsons (the Trevor Horn of his time) came in with his technical blow wave,(and beard!I actually think the beard did all the damage!) The problem with Dark Side Of The Moon is that it has become more of a landmark and less of a record.Before this,Pink Floyd had a great underground spirit.

But to abandon them in the wake of punk seemed absurd.As punk sped on,Dave Gilmour was struggling with the magnificent "Wish You Were Here".Captivating guitar signatures over Rick Wright's sprawling moodscapes. Water's sometimes scathing or angst ridden lyrics other times soft and compassionate .The evocative sampling and the understated Nick Mason.A cinemascope Ringo.Unbelievable lightshow. All the time The Sex Pistols were gobbing over EMI,The Floyd with the thinking man's punk,Roy Harper on vocals on 'Have A Cigar', his delivery characterised by mockery and derision,laid out the same message.Who after all was a greater purveyer of the punk ethos then Roy Harper?

Direct,simple,anarchic,acerbic.He saw through the establishment from the walls of the womb.Songs about hope, drugs,sex,racism,politics ,succinct word plays,delivered with his soaring expressive voice.Along with the gift of inventing a memorable tune and all with one guitar tuned to some exotic key.Even then,he still found space inside his magical head to write the most gorgeous love songs.So when punk started walking on its hind legs(as Harper never has to this day),The Floyd with no public agenda painstakingly carried on , releasing the anthemic Another Brick In The Wall from the album that it was alright to like by Pink Floyd and immortalised the feeling of the times.They became hip again,or were perceived to be in touch even though they were more massive now than they ever had been.Bigger than when they had been accused of being irrelevant and out of touch.

martface.gif 8.6 K But the desertion of swing which led say to Dave Brubeck and Brubeck which led to Elvis seems a necessary process ,where one things wipes the other out or at least its profile or supposed importance.Then another new thing comes along.New Wave had sailed in on the coat tails of punk. Everybody had forgotten to notice that The Pretenders or Squeeze didn't really stand for anything more than a boyish sneer and a good tune.They looked a bit like punks and that was good enough.The jagged edges smoothed until the next time.Nothing dies,everything changes.To me Patti Smith's Horses was great like The Floyd were great. One didn't cancel out the other. The Pistols and Robert Wyatt .And now it makes you wonder what Pink Floyd or The Sex Pistols were there for ? (Almost everything in music seems to exist to be superceded.)

One now 'punk nostalgia' (which has an awful ring to it for me), and the other a slippers and pipe version of their own past's idea fest, lyrically lacking and musically moderate but when Dave Gilmour came to play it was like a giant had walked into the room(in more ways than one!It's incredible that a band that evokes such an atmosphere can be so huge.All different types of people get it!Here we are back at the brain.What is that little area that The Floyd penetrate?

So in walked the giant.A man like that has to carry the burden of who he is everywhere he goes.Not because of how he feels but because of the way everyone else does.So when he got into the room with his guitar strapped on he was kind of hard to direct or criticize.You were so grateful that he'd shown up and that he'd made so many records that had directly influenced you :Consequently the two tracks he played on which were Are You Lonely (a little) and Wishing The Hours Away had fantastic little lead licks in them,but when it came to the latters solo we didn't manage to get "The One" out of him.So I had to do Dave Gilmour's guitar solo again for him!(Actually for us).My ego was surfing on that concept for a good few days after!Anyway it was great what he did. (magic fingers).

We all got to ask him all those questions you always wanted to know the answers to.Coincidentally I was reading "Crazy Diamond ,Syd Barrett And The Dawn Of Pink Floyd.He skirted around a few questions about Syd,but I wanted to know more about the more obscure connections he had: He produced a band in the seventies called Unicorn and did one of the songwriter Ken Baker's songs on his excellent first solo LP:The song is called"No Way Out Of Here" It's a really great song.Seek out his first album it's really worth it.Unicorn could be a little harder to find.If anyone's interested I'll let you know what I know.Anyway when I mentioned them he rolled his eyes said something about madness and told me old Kenny had found GGGoDD!

Then we talked a little about Roy Harper and that Roy writes songs over his riffs that he's promised to other people.The case in point being Pete Townshend.Now I think he must mean "White City Fighting" on "White City" and"Hope" on"Whatever Happened To Jugular?" that Harper did with Jimmy Page Although there's ten years between the two records so maybe Pete stored that Gilmour riff in his mind for ten years.Who knows?It would be great to meet Dave Gilmour so I could ask him.(Roy's and Jimmy's is the better.)And so to close as Jimmy Page hits the equation.It's strange hearing Page play a Gilmour riff.Can you imagine Gilmour playing "Whole Lotta Love". Dave Gilmour ,Jimmy Page,Roy Harper. Just Great.

Love Marty

11th November 1996

What's your opinion on the idea of releasing another album of Church rarities, in the same vein as Hindsight (lots of b-sides) or Quick Smoke At Spots. There's still a lot of songs that can only be found on singles releases, or Sing Songs, and many fans are scouring the world's dingy record stores to find them :-) [A potential list of songs was also sent to Marty, along with the question.]

Dear Brian and Mr Blatherbop, Here is the list in full:


   Bus Driver             A Different Man        Ancient History



   I Am A Rock            In this Room           Musk



   Warm Spell             Unsubstantiated        Nightmare



   Fog                    Drought                The Time Being



   Leave your Clothes On  Cut In Two             The Myths You Made



   Freeze To Burn         Macabre Tavern         Man



   Won't Let You Sleep    S.A.D.S.               Why Don't You Love Me



   Roomful Of Diamonds



That's 22 songs in total. A long list to ponder! If you leave lists like this for long enough they breed.In my experience a list is usually the first step in realising a project.like the Ryko 'Sacred Napkin' incident. As far as actually contemplating and doing something about this particular list,I would say that sometime in the future a window will appear through which we can post this box of ghosts.

Bye Marty

10th November

...Marty, however was furious, trying to kick some cameraman and turning his back to the camera. I found out later that their manager had forgotten to inform them about Dutch TV filming parts of the festival, so Marty though some guy was trying to make a bootleg video, or smoething. Can you ask Marty if he remembers this episode and whether this explanation is correct ?

How was a relationship forged between you and Rykodisc.

These two questions are dated Sunday 27th of October,and you're writing to me from San Francisco, from the past. I've been to San Francisco quite a few times.The band has played there many times as have I. I once played there with Richard Thompson at Slim's. I worked there quite a bit with Linda Perry. Zo and I went there together too,so yes,I like it. Fantastic houses! The Tenderloin to the Golden Gate, Fisherman's Wharf to The Haight. Contrasting Scenes. The gay scene,the hippie scene.The sixties legends. Grateful Dead , Moby Grape, Jefferson Airplane,Big Brother/Janis Joplin. Actually one of the strangest records that came from there was 'Oar' by Skip Spence, Moby Grape's drummer. I recently wrote a song with Grace Slick, not that I knew much about it,as she wrote her bit long after my departure.The song is called 'Knock Me Out' and was co-written with Linda Perry and is on her solo LP 'In Flight'. It's also on 'The Crow 2 'soundtrack. It's a Linda and Grace duet. Then there's Soundgarden, Faith No More and Metallica. Who else? What about Quicksilver Messenger Service. Steve Miller, although like Janis he came from a different place and just 'Made It' from there.

Breathe in the psychedelic history. The poster art. The Fillmore. We played the Fillmore once. I also went to see Big Star there which was really great. Nine Inch Nails? Aren't they from there ? (Brian says: "I'm informed that they're not"). The Downward Spiral. Now there's a record not to listen to on your own! I can't think of any 3 minute pop song bands from there.(Steve Miller later on.) I'll leave you to contemplate Megadeath and Primus, Journey (I think) and last but not least American Music Club. Not forgetting ! Country Joe and the Fish , It's A Beautiful Day and New Riders Of the Purple Sage: But I can't type well enough to mention them.Chris Isaak? Or was that just an album title? Oops how could we forget, The (original) Charlatans. Oh my god! I forgot Dead Kennedys and Nuns who were another punk group. Translator who were kind of an 80's guitar band (These being the closest to three minute pop I can muster.) The bizarre and interesting Chrome. Honestly that's all I can think of. Aren't the Spin doctors from San Francisco???????

And the thinking man's creme de la creme ? THE RESIDENTS! (via Shrieveport)

Dear Ernst,
You have a fine propensity for intrigue and extrapolation! As well as a vivid memory and a more than fertile imagination. Steve's mystical presence, as you put it, was a considerable achievement considering we were on in the daylight. It must have been the dark red shirt ! I think we were on before Mory Kante ! I remember misreading a pole poster on the way to the gig and thinking that it said Marti Kaine. (It's actually with a C.) The poster was bent around the pole and was impossible to read. If you knew who Marti Caine was ,you'd be confused too. She's an English cabaret comedienne. Actually if you knew Mory Kante's music you may think that she would be as-relevant to appear after us. An inadvertant Lollapalooza. The occasion I think was the Pink Pop Festival,although it could have been the Park Pop which was around that time too.

I don't remember that much more about it, you however, between Dutch TV and our manager at the time, seem to have a few answers. Other flashes come of an argument with the record company backstage and a display of petulance by me on stage, unseen by mankind before this day. I remember the cameraman was really pissed off. I think he was one of those war correspondent types who keeps on filming even after he has been macheted to death. I think I did throw a coat over the camera and try and make him lose his balance with a sly nudge from my boot. Still the hero continued filming and I thought 'Right I'll show him' and proceeded to throw a really small amount of coca-cola over the photographers. Sid Vicious must have turned in his grave !

Dear Mike,
The relationship with Ryko was forged by our manager at the time. Ernst's mate. The deal came about because we had an album selling well and we all had at least an album's worth each of already recorded material.For some reason or another my deal with Ryko continued where Steve and Pete's ceased. Steve may have seen the Ryko deal as a great opportunity to put out his poetry and instrumental album, where as I saw it as a real deal. Sometime around then Steve released Unearthed on Enigma so the Ryko deal seemed like more of a one off.

I'm not sure what happened with Pete,maybe he didn't have anything more to record at the time and I did. I also did gigs which must have helped.Anyway mine turned into an extended album contract which spawned Art Attack, Rhyme, Spirit Level and half of In Reflection on the Art Attack CD.

It was great while it lasted! Somewhere between Rhyme and Spirit Level, two things happened.First we fell out with our manager who was still working with them on other projects and secondly they wanted to hear demos or give me less money to make the record. In retrospect I suppose they thought that if they were going to give me an advance to make my third album ,with the advance increasing as each album was recorded ,they would want to know that they had a chance of getting the money back. I until then had complete artistic control and knew I had some really good songs for Spirit Level. So I somewhat facetiously sent them something like 40 demo's. Jeff Rougvie the A&R man who I must say I had a great working, musical and friendly relationship with called me up, really liked the demos and picked (I suppose with Don Rose the main and affable cog) all the songs I wanted to record anyway. Except he picked out Turn Away To The Stars and I was really happy to record that one.

There was one called Driving Down To Mexico which I was going to record that he didn't like and I guess I lost confidence in the song.I mean, he particularly didn't like it! I'd been to Mexico a couple of times by then and I was(still am) well into Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, all the Day of The Dead Stuff, which incidentally Steve wrote an excellent lyric for on Sometime Anywhere. One of my favourites of his words. My song though just didn't cut the mustard. It was far too wildwestern. When the record was done everybody loved it. I had a deal in Europe,a deal in Australia and a record everyone was happy with. But something was wrong.The glue had started to come away and in the space of about six months I'd gone from being a signed internationally released artist with arty packaging and thoughtful songs to an unmanaged,slightly awkward, low selling, otherwise committed and unrecouped question mark. Terribly sad and frustrating for all concerned.

I really liked the Ryko people.They are a thoughtful spanner in the machinery of dross. But for me the phone stopped ringing somewhere between business and art.

On your other question. I think I saw another question about retospectives coming up but that may have been more to do with hard to find tracks. I know nothing about Arista and Rhino 'fighting over us'. Heaven forbid. I had no input into the Almost Yesterday compilation. It's all a bit pop for me. It probably mirrors Glen A.Baker's taste and is only one side of the Church. Nobody has talked to me about future compilations.I find out everything I want to know about The Church from the web. (Brian: "Woohoo !")

To finish by commenting on post Ryko solo releases,I made an album last year with Shep Lonsdale in Santa Monica. Shep who has a studio in his garage(2 ADATS) also engineered Starfish and Gold Afternoon Fix. He's trying to start up his own label and that's what's taking the time. It's tentatively titled Hanging out In Heaven.

5th November 1996

Have you, Steve, and/or Peter ever discussed remixing or rerecording some of your old tracks that you think got a bum rap by the producer/record company the first time around ?

The studio has now moved and there's alot of setting up to do. Consequently we'll be moving to the countryside for the winter. Green sloping hills,the sprightly song of the robin redbreast,the heavy soft rain soaked blades of grass,enormous dark skies and bright crackling open fires.Well,something like that!

To your question:
Who hasn't recorded something that could have had a better mix? The thing with Priest=Aura is that it's more sonically in line with the whole mood of The Church. It's rich,it's lush,it has an other worldly atmosphere. Where Starfish is simpler,more structured,more down to earth. Ironically Milky Way was it's hit.

When you work with a producer,you're not really sure what you're going to get until you're in there working with them.Without getting into comparisons between Starfish and Priest, I'd say that the core of the problem (and perhaps the reason for its success) was using Greg Ladanyi and Waddy Wachtel.I mean Greg was all Fleetwood Mac and Jackson Browny and Waddy was all AC/DC and Keith Richardsy and we were all psychedelic and moody. Strange Brew! Waddy was alway's trying to get us to turn our delays off and play a groove that he felt,whereas we were less restrained and if an echo was slightly out of time somewhere it wouldn't really matter.It was our glorious synchronised chaos.

When I hear Richard on that record I can here he's scared. Almost like there's a man in the room raising a flag when he's allowed to hit a cymbal. We were like a dog pulling on a lead and Waddy just wouldn't let us go. But,what we got was this simple arranged controlled less trippy album.Now,I think(and this is where Steve and I disagree) that this is what may have contributed to its success. Of course we did have some great songs plus the intoxicating Milky Way. Who knows, that may have been a hit on any planet at anytime,anywhere in the universe and the rest of the album could have continued with other well known bagpipe melodies.

But in the way that Preist=Aura was rich,moody and obscure(and I know I said I wouldn't compare them) Starfish was simple,straight and accessible. WE CROSSED OVER DUDE. Or more topically we found a wormhole and entered the mainstream universe. Somehow though,we only managed a relatively short visit before we shot back through into galactica obscura.

So,I suppose Starfish could have had a more intertwining,more dynamic and layered sound,richer, like Priest, but for them the objective was a succinct, simple, contemporary guitar band that could also get in the charts.(Producers seem to like the idea of themselves as hit makers.) What we got was a really successful album but it's really hard to find that creative relationship with a balanced amount of pushing and pulling and still keep all of the people happy all of the time.

In the end as Steve said the songs are the most important thing.

In a second message Marty added:

I have to be careful not to contradict myself here because as discussed in the main response to this question,the songs are the important thing,and therefore re-recording a great song should just give you another version of an already great song! Well, Paul McCartney did it,John Cale did it and John Martyn did it. Maybe it works for them and maybe it works for the fans but it doesn't work for me. It has an air of redundancy about it. I just can't imagine doing it.

If a song was so good that it justified being done again by the same artist,then the tendency to try and recapture the original magic would belittle the current attempt and if you downplay the original versions excellence then you are defeating the object of doing it.You can't have two Mona Lisas!(It even looks ridiculous written down!) Now a cover version is a different thing.....

On the mixing question :
If you're re-mixing something you're not happy with around the time of the project in question that's one thing,but going back years later and doing it is another.I feel like if a song didn't live up to its potential when you did it then maybe the sorry old thing missed the boat. That's why when somebody else takes control,and does something you don't like it's extremely frustrating because you're stuck with it. It is incredible how artistic control can slip through your fingers at crucial stages.I can recognise where that happened when I listen back to certain parts of our recordings.

1st November 1996

What do you remember about a song called Abstract Model that I heard on an unreleased Church tape ?

I seem to remember that Abstract Model was a very early song of Steve's that he wrote on his old Teac 4-Track.He may even have written it before I joined the band.From what I can remember of the song(I haven't heard it in years) it was kind of John Foxxy and dead catchy.I think that may have been why it never really got to the band .The guitar thing was beginning to work and maybe it was a little too electronic sounding or something.

Interestingly though our first single She Never Said had an electronic thing about it except it was with guitars.At the time synth's were really in and I think anybody else but the stubborn old Church would have had a great big gurgling pulsating sequenced sickly keyboard part on it.We wisely restrained ourselves and I'm pretty sure we didn't even entertain the idea.Thereby heralding our arrival (if I may be so bold) as a guitar band and consequently setting us apart from what was around at the time.

Also at this time we may have subconciously hit upon the idea of guitars meshing and/or sounding like other things.These things with Steve's low register and picturesque and thought provoking lyrics,were the ingredients with which we developed our sound.And of course that subconcious random factor often had more control than we did.Still, Steve had a fistful of good songs at the time,Abstract Model being one of them.

His new studio will be in London right ? Will it be open for hire ? If so how much ? Should I ever manage to scrape together enough money, would I be able to hire it, and would he like to produce the stuff for me ? : ) Just kidding there, I probably couldn't afford it, but I'm just curious.

Thank you for your eloquent message. Wrong! It will be near Glastonbury/There's a definite chance I'll be getting higher/A lot higher/You've got to produce 'the stuff'or you can't get higher.

I assume that in the early stages of the band, most if not all of the members held some sort of outside job. It would be fun to know what jobs they all did while the Church was in its infancy, and at what point were they able to quit their day jobs and devote themselves full-time to the band? And also, since we hear so much about how bad the times were when they recorded certain albums, i'd be curious which records (if any) the band truely enjoyed making... I mean, really had fun and were excited about being there..... it could be interesting to compare the results

This may be the most humorous thing I type all day. Since I have been in The Church I have not done a single days work !

On your second question I've had this conversation with Brian in person and although the question isn't necessarily a dumb one,the answer always seem to come out that way.I suppose one could be accused of taking the word 'fun' a little too seriously but it's not a word I've ever associated with making a Church album.They have been between inspiring and frustrating. Each record has a different story.Different working relationships,different era's ,different types of songs different countries,different man.

Can you give me some general advice, or some of your memories about your four tarck recording days ? Did you record tracks dry or wet ?

I Love 4-Track recording for it's ability to make you think creatively. It's a real adventure and it's kind of for its own sake which makes it special. When I recorded In Reflection it was a time when my technical knowledge was extremely limited ,so each track was a mysterious journey into the unknown,documented in the accompanying booklet. I think that most of the effects were recorded wet.I know that the space echo guitar on Velvet Fuselage was.But I think I did dry recording too because I remember having these cheap electrical shop RCA to Jack leads that you could use to hear the effect and not record it. Never forgot how to bounce though.It was strange how as the bounced tracks lost some of their sound quality they gained in other ways.I thought theyy sounded warm and aloof. Contrasting, eerie and soft. All this reminds me of the magical qualities 4-Track recording has. Happy Trails,but write your own songs!

Goodnight,
Marty

30th October 1996

When an album of yours comes out there seems to be a big delay between its completion and the release. So when you have to promote it, do you feel a sense of detachment from it ? Are you still as excited/thrilled/ready to talk about it as you were the day after recording finished ?

This has been a common complaint with just about everybody that's made a record. Rather like the cousin of this complaint,you know the one,touring's fine if you're talking about the hour and a half on stage,it's just the other twenty two and a half hours of the day that are a nightmare! But to return to the question,the distance between the thrill of hearing back a track when it's done and being asked a question about it after it's release, can be frustratingly long.As far as getting excited about talking about it, that's a real "mood your're in" thing.I think a lot of writers/musicians like to think that there's a kind of dream planet where 'the music speak's for itself.You know the famous Elvis Costello quote(or was it Frank Zappa) Talking about music is like dancing about architecture ?

I've personally started to dislike the whole principal of doing interviews in a general sense.The journalist is like a middle man,an agent for your ideas.Sometimes he/she may pick out aspects of your ideas that don't add up in an edited form ,like potatoes without the salt,fundamental points that may be inferred subtly said or knowingly communicated but not necessarily getting out of that room you're in.Or the personality itself can get in the way and the interview may not go anywhere, or they may like you too much, or you run out of time ,or they may just be a representative of the paper and may not actually like you at all !

Just to give you an example of that, I remember once Steve and I doing an interview in Hamburg ,I think it was Starfish era and this girl came into the room and said something like 'I don't really know what all the fuss is about your record ,because I really don't like it'. The point I'm trying to make here is that time lapse is only one of the problems of talking about your record.How about the problem of talking about it at all?

I might add in conclusion ,that this particular medium seems to work for me.

Would Marty and the rest of the band ever consider signing on with a major label again, or do the benefits of doing it on Steve's label outweigh the cons?

My last conversation with Steve on this point was about the possibilities of signing to a label in England,getting a producer and putting a record out through regular channels.There are problems whichever way you do it as Steve and I are just discovering after 'Magician' which by the way was put out on our label 'Deep Karma'.Steve's label is called 'Karmic Hit'.

At the moment we have made no decisions on how to move forward.We have not approached anybody as yet mainly,I feel because we're still reeling from the frustration of our present situation.

22nd October 1996

Have you tried tuning all the guitar strings to E or A ? Makes a good strum-fest :-)

I'm sure i've tried the strum fest idea.In fact as I'm writing this reply I remember Steve had a 12 string with all the strings tuned to something or other and although this idea has always seemed theoretically a good one,I can't ever remember actually using it on a record.

Is Zoe (Marty's wife) musically talented ?

It is interesting that the two better known Church songs are songs Steve co-wrote with Michelle Parker and Karin Jansson respectively.Zoe is not a musician although she does seem to have a profound interest in the violin.I gather she took piano lessons as a kid and probably knows more than she lets on.When I was making 'Hanging Out In Heaven' last year we had a jam and Zo played drums so she is certainly musical.Tomorrow (23rd October) we are executing the final stage of the studio move from Stockholm to near Glastonbury.And then we will be moving down there to set it all up and use it.Zo is going to be very involved .I was talking to her yesterday about learning to do drum programming with the computer,we will see but having the place is certainly going to open up all potential for everybody including Charlotte our daughter who will be growing up trying to get Dad out of the studio and down to the swings.

2)Having started to deal with question 2 at the end of question 1, I'll just say that I will encourage her [Charlotte] to pursue her chosen path.

3)You may find that the tricky ,fluidy , guitary ,thingys sound tricky and fluidy because they follow a scale pattern that is quite straight forward ,mind you I wrote the part and played it so maybe it's easy for me, but still I think this theory still holds true.It's like when you hear a great song and when you work it out it's staggeringly simple. No,I didn't have lessons.

What do you think of the British 'New Lad' trend ?
4)I hate anything that encourages people to be more moronic.

What is Russian Autumn Heart about ?


Combustion suggestions of roaring engines



Jewels and lathes that build a world    (2nd time Rule the world)



Titanic, Howard Hughes, an aimless king



Always spoiling the best things you've done







So red squares and wavy leaves



Delicate glass kisses delicate lips



Russian Autumn Heart







Testing digressing, falling to the Earth



Red hot spaceships with soil so rich



A trillion pennies for a handful of dust



A sight only witnessed by  a mountain of ice.







So red squares and wavy leaves



Sibling link meets Manchurian mink



Russian Autumn Heart



I think this is the lyric used (It's from my lyric book)I have all the Church records in storage and haven't played this song for a while. When I look at it ,it's probably a slightly anti materialism/pro aesthetic pursuit theme.When I was working in LA with Brix Smith,she was living in Sue Hoff's Brothers guest house.His wife is Russian.She was reading one day in the back garden.She seemed incongruous in this warm sun-soaked Californian paradise setting.I made a comment to her about the book she was reading as I think it was something Russian that I'd read too.

She was so happy to discuss literature with somebody as she felt that people she hadmet never read 'Great' novels where in Russia everybody with an education would gorge themselves on these works of art like Americans would hamburgers or more to the point Jackie Collins.So there was a slight anti American sentiment or at least an anti materialistic philosophy manifested in the intrinsic nature of what's important to the average American asagainst the average Russian.

Still I didn't have a problem with American values when they bought our records by the truckload!

I'm pretty sure the record was never released in Russia !

I'd just like to add that although certain aspects of what I was trying to get across maybe true ,that since the Iron Curtain was raised the Eastern Europeans seem to have gorged themselves lasciviously on Western goods and food.Whereas there are lots of us who on this side of the imaginary line, are sick of additives , plastic chairs and cd's who are ravenously searching for real carrot juice, walnut dashboards and the LP record.

Why did you switch from Rickenbackers to Fenders in the 1996 Australian tour ?

I didn't feel like I had 'switched' from Ricks to Fenders for those dates.This is what happened: Some bright spark lost the paperwork that covers my gear which is still as we speak in New York.By the time the tour was announced and booked it was too late to sort out getting my usual black McGuinn Ricky and solid body red 6 plus the semi-acoustic Ricky.I have a few guitars at home and I decided to take the wine 12 string(also with McGuinn electrics) plus I needed a guitar that would do the job of both the other 6 strings.Anyway my trusty old Strat was really the only guitar that I had at home that could manage it.Just to get romantic for a second,I've had that guitar for 24 years and it was the guitar that I took with me to OZ without a case way back in 1980.God only knows how it has survived the years.It was the guitar I used on Unguarded Moment,When You Were Mine and was my main 6 string guitar for the first two albums.Incidentally you may like to know that I didn't get a Rick 12 until the 2nd album.The guitar I used on that was a solid body Burns 12 (Is This Where You Live,For A Moment We're Strangers) I wish I still had it.

I listened to Spirit Level last night.And guess what? I really like it too!I was talking to Dare today and he told me he also liked it.So far, so good.The songs on it were written at different times in different places,as you know,but I suppose that if you record them all at the same time they automatically take on a certain relationship to/with each other.The mood you may be in at the time of recording gives a certain continuity to the project.Even Though You Are My Friend was written literally years before all the others and yet it slots in perfectly.By the way thanks for the vote of confidence.

My next Lp which has been completed (bar a couple of mixes) for over a year now was written differently.My friend Shep who engineered Starfish and GAF,asked me in April '95 if I'd like to make an album with him in his studio?I asked him how I could refuse but added that there was one small problem.I don't have any songs!He told me to come back to the States when I had an album.Zo and I were just on our way to Oz via Fiji for a holiday.So I had the new experience of writing to get in the studio instead of getting in the studio when I'd felt the songs were building up into an album's worth.So I started in Fiji.I had no guitar ,so a couple were put to guitar later, then some in Oz and less than a month later I was back in the States (where I wrote a couple more) and in the studio.The album is called 'Hanging Out In Heaven' and as we speak...... I have no idea when it will be out!

14th October 1996

We've talked about playing in England as a full band but there are obviously a few practical problems.We don't have a record deal here and consequently no financial help which makes it difficult as two band members live in OZ, one mostly lives in Oz and only I live here.Some time has to pass,some things have to be sorted out and then MAYBE.

What do you think of abbreviations [that Seance uses to talk about Church projects ?]
Abbr.are like T.V.'s R.C.'s ,Theo. OK etc.

Cryptic messages aside,my favourite [Church album] is the white one with the black cover the electric one with the acoustics and the inst. 1 w/vox.

And Mr Sand Dab,

1) One way to avoid concert burn out is to not do concerts! It seems to be working remarkably well.
2) Rather than work with other particularly brilliant musicians,I'd rather just enjoy their records.I would find it hard to ask a stranger to work on something with me, although I don't mind being asked myself and then some I do,some I don't.
3) I'll sign anything! Then you may already know that if you've followed my (progress!?) Lastly ,thanks for the vote of confidence, and on the subject of DIY, I'll be moving my studio to about three miles from Glastonbury later this month.Zo and I will be renovating ,learning,playing and breathing in a lot of good air over the coming months.If you love success more than music,then I believe that tetra packs has endless oppurtunities.

Assaf in Israel:
I've heard before that we have a profile in Israel.No-one has ever made us an offer to go there.Ironically in Phoenix,Arizona we always did less than well,consequently we went there often.

And cast but not yeast-Rod:

The Rickenbacker Jazzbo which I would obviously like to own but never remember wanting to buy,is a rare jewel.It's nearly 9 years since I played it in that video but I'll tell you what I can about it.I believe the guitar was from 1948 and the name on the headstock was spelt with a letter 'h' in it .I wonder if they'll do that on the re-issue? I only ever got to hear the guitar on the video set so I don't really feel like I got to really try it out,but to play a guitar from the forties has a certain Je ne sais quoi, or should I say a certain Ich Weis es nicht?Also jazz guitars are a breed unto their own and I ain't no expert.The other thing is that the Jazzbo wasn't actually the guitar that I wanted to borrow.In the Rickenbacker Museum there was a strange acoustic guitar with an arrow-head headstock.I can't remember what era it came from but it was a particularly weird beast being a Rick and an acoustic.

6th October 1996

1) My fathers parents from what I can gather may have been close to actually being posh, my Father remembers them having a chauffeur as a child and Yes the Willson comes from my Grandmother's side and the Piper from my Granfather's side. Actually during World War 2 my father was a fighter pilot and dropped the Willson for a while beacause everyone got payed alphabetiacally so he kept the Piper and got payed before the W's!! but when I came to get my passport my Father's surname was Willson-Piper.

2) No I would NEVER play with Peter Murphy.

3) i seem to have lost your message about working with Dare Mason, but to answer it the solo album that is being worked on at the moment was done with Shep Lonsdale who engineered Starfish and GAF. Dare is probably going to help me put my studio together near Glastonbury and some time in the future I'm sure we will do something together.

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