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Tim Powles interview with InPress Print E-mail
Wednesday, 14 December 2005

A very nice interview with Tim, talking about el momento, his role in the band, and the band's perception of itself.

Interview with one EJ Cartledge for Melbourne street press, InPress.

Long after record company mishaps, internal squabbles and fading commercial appeal should have buried The Church, drummer and producer extraordinaire Tim Powles is both accounting for and fiercely proclaiming the band's longevity.

"This band stresses to protect it's musicality and credibility. Let's face
it, we dabble in the commercial world but we don't have a great desire to have hits. We're kind of non -combatants in that scene and it frustrates people, it upsets people. But I believe in the Church ethos. I live and breathe it.

"In the mid-1990's we were grappling with the idea of appealing to more people. I mean, we've always teased people by nearly writing hit singles, by writing songs that kind of could be popular and this frustrated me as much as anyone. Wouldn't it be better for us to get the message over to more people? You know, spread the Church thing far and wide, then more people would hear the other stuff.

"But I've swung around from that idea and the others have too. But back then we were under a lot of pressure from outside people and we've come out the other side, we're survivors and I'm really proud of this fact."

We're chatting on the eve of a national acoustic tour in support of the
ARIA-nominated album El Momento Descuidado, part of the wonderful Liberation Blue acoustic series. It features strippped down reworkings of Church classics as well as five new songs. Oh, and the title translates roughly as 'the unguarded moment', a track long since disowned by lead singer Steve Kilbey.

"Yeah, Steve probably quite rightly feels that song belongs to another time, another place. But the actual process of rehearsing and recording this project was quite effortless. Steve and I wanted strict guidelines for the album, one being five new songs, another being to re-invent some of the old songs and the final thing was to do it all in just five days."

And what is the best part about playing shows in the 'unplugged' style?

"Well, for me, it's about the musicianship, which is at an absolute premium. It's also about superb timing and challenges and rising to the occasion. For instance, with us in these shows, Pete is playing a lot of piano, out of his guitar comfort zone. Marty plays the drums on a few tracks, I'm on guitar at some stage, so is Steve, not just doing his bass thing, so it's a whole next level of performance."

We begin to talk about individuals and the ever-changing dynamics in The Church and, perhaps understandably, Powles is initally reluctant to reveal past or current interactions. But he does admit to his own fascination for the shifting tides in the band.

"I'm not too sure how much of this should be for public consumption, but there's material there, material for... well, there's such a history there and now we've moved to completely new autonomy, so things have moved considerably in my time with the band. I mean, we're all friends and the interpersonal relationships are what keep this thing going, but we don't get along all the time.

"I will say it's priceless that we're still together after all of this time.
We're very lucky and very wise in many ways and staying together just puts you on another level."

Interestingly, while Tim is the 'newest' member of The Church, he is
considered by many as the mainstay and energising force. And his involvement goes a long way back.

"Yeah, I was in a band in the '80s some might remember called The Venetians. For some reason, we and The Church always seemed to end up on the same bill. Later, I did the session work for Sometime Anywhere. We were quite good acquaintances."

Do you feel somehow a kind of custodian for the legacy of The Church?

"Well, that's probably true, although I've had to learn to let go, not take such an all-consuming approach to it, hence the new autonomy. I mean, I ended of producing like The Church was another band; I was giving directions and carrying the load. And despite feeling removed from the early days, which was Richard Ploog's time, through blood sweat and tears I've grown into it and for a long time I had a galvanising effect.

"I guess my personality helped the band stabilise but then that ended up with me probably trying to push the band too far in terms of acting as producer as well. It was most apparent, well... I guess all brought to a head with the Forget Yourself album... where I was disappointed with the sonic result. It was the peak of me going too far, trying to have total control. I was caring too much for the band."

That all-consuming approach seems to have passed, with Powles suggesting The Church has now entered a 'third era'.

"Absolutely. There was the time before I came along and I love that stuff. I mean there are some incredible moments in pop history, if you think about it, with Almost With You and Under The Milky Way and Myrrh, I mean who else could have recorded that sort of stuff? Then after that we lost our place in the commercial world but kept moving and kept trying to move forward and now we're working in a different fashion again, with a team of engineers and Steve being more involved. He and I work really well together."

Indeed, a new studio album called Uninvited Like The Clouds has been
completed and is scheduled for release in February 2006 [Brian: It's now April 2006]. For Tim Powles, all is well on the good ship Church.

"We're at a good spot. I feel really at peace, so does Steve. I don't mean this in an arrogant way but we're kind of untouchable now."

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