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Tim talks to Detroit's State News about Box of Birds and touring Print E-mail
Wednesday, 29 September 1999
Originally published by at The Australian rock band The Church has played together for 20 years and 15 albums. They perform tonight at The 7th House, 7 N. Saginaw St. in Pontiac.

Church?s many travels bring group to Detroit

The State News

The glimmering ?Under the Milky Way? may have been the band?s only American top-20 hit ever, but the exotically lovely sounds of The Church have lasted 20 years, 15 albums, four drummers and numerous tours.

In that time, The Church has globally cemented itself with its captivating guitar-pop, which slides inside the wordplay of front man Steve Kilbey to create a melancholy brand of lush rock.

Though not necessarily one of Australia?s chief exports, The Church is a fine trade of musical mysticism.

The Church ? made up of bassist Kilbey, guitarist Marty Willson-Piper, and guitarist Peter Koppes, who rejoined the band in 1997 after his 1992 departure ? is made of veterans, who have not experienced switching record labels or band members who migrate from band to band.

Records such as ?Sometime Anywhere? and ?Magician Among the Spirits? led to the band?s self-production and musical maturation during the mid-?90s, stemming from commercial failure of previous records such as ?Priest = Aura.?

Now, with a new record deal and an inspiring, rejuvenated enthusiasm, The Church introduces ?Box of Birds,? an album of 10 cover songs spanning the band?s personal influences and favorites. It is a riveting combination of kitsch rock (The Monkees? ?The Porpoise Song?) and ?70s psychedelia (Kevin Ayers? ?Decadence?), but it?s all done with true Church style.

Drummer Tim Powles said it feels good to be in a band whose members are into being true to themselves. And, he said, the concept of ?Box of Birds? has made it all worthwhile, logging a 20-date U.S. tour that stops at The 7th House, 7 N. Saginaw St. in Pontiac, tonight.

?The Church and the process of the band is very random,? a talkative Powles said on the phone en route to Minneapolis. ?We have been doing things entirely on our own terms since 1992, making the records we want to make. This record in particular is something different.?

Something entirely different, but suitably fitting. The Beatles? ?All Too Much? is flowery, unexpectedly breaking into segments from Eddy Grant?s ?Electric Avenue? and the Pretty Things? ?Sorrow.? Ultravox?s ?Hiroshima Mon Amour? and Iggy Pop?s ?The Endless Sea? quiver with sonic guitar scapes, and Willson-Piper?s riff loops are energizing.

Powles, who has been with The Church since 1994, has emerged as a creative visionary force who backs the band in roles of production and mixing. He said the band had tinkered around with Mott The Hoople?s ?All The Young Dudes? on last year?s tour and planned to record it as a single for fan club members. Covering songs such as Neil Young?s ?Cortez The Killer? and the ?70s punk band Television?s ?Friction? is something the band had thought about doing for years, but it didn?t happen until the band came together for recording sessions for ?Box of Birds,? Powles said.

?After recording these, suddenly it didn?t seem like an album by The Church at all,? he said. ?From a distance, I suppose it sounds more like us more than we think.?

The Church?s soothing hooks and splashing ambience as a live band is still evolving. This time around, Powles said, fans seem to be pleasantly surprised. There will be slices of earlier songs, but he notes that the band has made a conscious move to drop old songs such as ?Unguarded Moment? and ?Reptile,? which have been overplayed in the past two decades.

?If any song seems overexposed, it bites the dust,? Powles said. ??Tantalized? seems to be sticking around though. It?s about playing to a devoted group of people, and I haven?t met anyone who?s been disappointed yet.?

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