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Steve and Marty talk about the band and how they work together Print E-mail
Monday, 31 July 2006
Jens Berke has kindly translated this German interview with Steve and Marty. There are two more interviews with Steve (on After Everything and Forget Yourself) still to be done if anyone would like to translate.

Interview by Ullrich Maurer

Originally released in German at

The Delicious Song Soup

A new album by The Church always offers this mixture of familiar terrain and unexplored new land, which has kept the whole thing cooking for years. Soon, the Australian Art-Rock veterans will celebrate their 25th anniversary. Steve Kilbey, singer, bassist and songwriter of the band, already explained us several times that the recipe for the Church soup is always the same: they meet in a relaxed atmosphere, jam around until they find song elements, which can be developed into something useful, find a sound concept, and in the end Steve's metaphor-rich lyrics are added. The differences are always in the details, Marty Willson-Piper explains to us this time - who, alongside Peter Koppes, is one of the two guitarists of The Church (and who has side-jobs at The Saints, All About Eve and his own band Mood Maidens). "This time, for example, Tim Powles, who is the producer as well, worked less technical and produced at lot less than before. We wanted it to be a band album this time, where everybody could concentrate on the musical aspects and didn't have to pay to much attention to technics."

Steve Kilbey painted the cover for the new CD "Uninvited, Like The Clouds" himself. It shows the band members in a kind of naive paradise. Steve carries a soup bowl in his hands whereas Marty seems to be smiling luckily. About what?

"Well, you ask me what I'm smiling about so you know where I am. But Steve's paintings aren't allegoric. The soup bowl contains an invisible message that tells you why I'm smiling. If Steve paints or writes something, the interpretation of it should be left to everybody."

Likewise for the CD title: the meaning of the title, Marty thinks, lies in its ambiguity and mystery, and not in its explanation - which shouldn't be exaggerated anyway. How were the instruments on the new disc conceptualized. It's apparent, for example, that there are a lot of sound layers this time.

"That hasn't striked me yet at all", Marty says, "because we're swapping instruments a lot these days. It can be that Steve plays guitar on one song where I play bass on. But I like it absolutely to play guitar and bass on the same song. We're just looking for a sound we like and use it. Something like this always needs some of the spirit of discoverers. Sometimes the idea to use the instrument of another one and play it in your own, specific style can be the right thing. But we don't always analyze everything and, by the way, don't work out everything what we record."

How does one have to imagine it then?

"Let's take the last track, Song To Go", Marty explains. "It roughly came into existence this way: do you know the song 'O Caroline' by Matching Mole? That is one of my favorite songs because it's a love song which is about writing a love song. I sat down at the fan organ [translator: don't know if I got that right, the German word is "Gebl?seorgel" here] which, besides the keys, has a lot of knobs which produce this extraordinary sound. I played the chord progression of that song, which was than learned by the band. Steve wrote lyrics for it. The mood comes from the mixture of natural room sound and Peter's collection of effect devices. Additionally we had Sophie Glasson of the Mood Maidens, who played Cello. All this together resulted in the sound clouds you are hearing."

Steve's lyrics usually aren't very specific. How does Marty cope with that?

"Well, if Steve writes lyrics that I like I tell him", he says hesitantly, "but I don't have the desire to decrypt the lyrics or discuss them with him endlessly. Sometimes I know what he sings about, and sometimes I'm just happy to guess a little bit."

What's the most important attainment of the new record? Is there something new that The Church haven't done before.

"I don't know really if we have clear objectives like that", Marty ponders, "or if something new happens accidentally. We tend to find ways to give the soup a new taste by always using the same ingredients. Basically it's always the same meal which is based on the same recipe. The secret for success lies in the satisfaction of the taste buds. If it tastes good it's okay - no matter what's in there. The biggest attainment in this is to successfully capture us in our creative phase and the sonically best moments. It's not about challenges or influences for us. We want to be left alone and follow our private muse."

Obviously it's not about explaining oneself as well. The question, if the album has any kind of topic (the last record was about the sea), he pertly answers "No". How could you summarize the fascination for The Church then?

"Well, I have spent my whole life as an adult with this band, which is different from other bands I played or play in, like the Saints or All About Eve", Marty explains. "Insofar this is something special, of course. But I generally don't compare this with other things. I do everything for my own sake [German "um meiner selbst Willen"].

And how does Marty see the future of The Church?

"I always see a way to develop ourselves", he says and then adds "You are always only as limited as your own imagination."

What kind of projects is Marty working on at the moment?

"The new Noctorum album 'Offer The Light' is finished and will be released soon. Moreover I have my own band called Mood Maidens with Sophie Hutchings as singer and pianist, Sophie Glasson at Cello and Amanda Brown at violin, mandolin and other instruments (who may be known in Germany for her appearance in the Go-Betweens). At the moment we're touring Australia. This is a thing I'd like to bring to Europe once - but I'd need some German Mood Maidens in order to be able to afford this. By the way: greet Holger Czukay if you see him..."

My thanks to Jens for not only finding the interview but translating it!

Last Updated ( Monday, 31 July 2006 )
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