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Steve talks about El Momento and re-interpretation Print E-mail
Wednesday, 30 November 2005
Very nice interview that goes into some detail about how songs were changed for this album. Originally published in Adelaide's dbMagazine.

The Church.

The Church "Well, our plans were derailed a bit by Liberation Records," Steve Kilbey begins when I ask why The Church are about to hit our town in completely acoustic mode. "They contacted us last year and said 'do you want to do an acoustic album?' and we thought 'why not?' We didn't want an 'unplugged' thing, but we were interested in deconstructing our songs and putting them back together."

That album, 'El Momento Descuidado', was meant to be a quick diversion before the next "proper" Church album, but took on a life of its own. "The album did better than we thought it would, and then Cooking Vinyl wanted to release it in America and England, which surprised us. And then we thought that we hadn't really toured [completely] acoustically and we thought we'd do one more thing before we return to electric again because our next album is waiting in the wings: it's been ready for a year and it's very, very electric. It's the complete anthesis of this."

The thing that really struck me about the album was how well the songs were served by the acoustic approach, with some - most notably A New Season, sung by guitarist Peter Koppes - revealing a stately beauty missing from the original incarnations.

"Yes, A New Season's a beautiful song," Kilbey enthuses. "I mean, just because a group writes a song doesn't necessarily mean they know what to do with it. You can have an idea but you might not have the savvy to know how to execute it, and I think that The Church - and me in particular - are just beginning to learn that less really is more. It really struck me just how beautiful it was when I heard it produced with that kind of elegance."

The album has three brand new songs and several of The Hits - Under The Milky Way, Metropolis, The Unguarded Moment, Almost With You - and I was curious as to how the band selected the songs to re-interpret.

"Oh, The Church doesn't have a selection process," Kilbey replies airily. "We just have a kind of argument going 'Why don't we do this, why don't we do that?', until Marty says 'well, I've been playing Tristesse in my acoustic shows' and I say 'well, I've been doing a version of Invisible' - but there was no really great meaningful thinking behind the whole process. I presumed that Liberation wanted those four 'hits' on there, but beyond that they said we could do whatever we liked: new songs, weird songs. But I'm glad those hits are there because we changed them around quite a lot. It's almost like turning a film back into a play and having to get rid of all that superfluous stuff and realising there's a story underneath."

Metropolis gets the biggest makeover; in fact I didn't even recognise the song at first. I was listening to the album while I was doing other things and...

"What else were you doing?"

Er, working. Here at dB Magazine.

"Oh. I thought you might have been making love to a lady."

So 'El Momento Descuidado' is The Church's bedroom album?

"It could be!" Kilbey laughs. "But with Metropolis it's got this complicated little chord run for the chorus and Marty said 'fuck it, I'm just going to reduce it to F#," he laughs again. "And in Unguarded Moment we changed an E minor to an E seventh: in the original version it was a moment to squeeze even more melodrama out of it, but on this new version we throw in the seventh to make it little more..."


"Yeah - just to say 'don't take this so seriously.' And that was great because I found with Unguarded Moment that I just couldn't stand the fucking song. Also, while we were making this album in this country & western studio, the guy played us a version by James Blundell, and it was great, but he'd taken the melodrama to the nth degree and it sounded like a desperate plea from a colonial man: [sings waveringly] 'But their hands, don't make me hang!' And it was so melodramatic that I thought 'my God, how could I have been responsible for this song?' So we decided to make it really easy, so it would just drift by. And that's kind of what we did with all of the songs."

So surely this record's more for the cuddling in bed afterwards than the deed itself?

"Yeah, I agree. It's for the aftermath, where you get an elbow in the ribs because you've gone to sleep again."

Andrew P Street

...and thanks to Holly Jordan for sending it in!

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