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Steve and Marty talk about El Momento Descuidado Print E-mail
Sunday, 28 November 2004

The Church has finally bowed to pressure to play its "old stuff", reports GRAEME HAMMOND

IT WAS only two years ago that Steve Kilbey, frontman for The Church, was fuming about those infuriating, incessant requests to play "the old stuff" -- The Unguarded Moment, Almost With You, Under the Milky Way.



"We're getting older, but we're no nostalgia act," he hissed back then. "I get f---ing annoyed when people tell us to dwell on the old days."

But what's this? A new Church album that is no less than a collection of acoustic reworkings of some of the golden oldies, including that trio of hits that has haunted the band for its 24-year career.

So why the change? Has The Church finally bowed before the mighty dollar to abandon its melancholy, ambient leanings for a return to spangly guitar pop? Has Kilbey suffered an attitude-adjusting blow to the head?

"Liberation Blue (the record label) approached us with the idea as part of an acoustic series.

"We'd never thought about it," Kilbey said without a trace of embarrassment.

"We decided it could be an opportunity to reinterpret our old numbers. We wanted to do it in a relaxed, stripped-back way. We tried to treat them as new songs.

"People always said we were so arrogant because we wouldn't play the old songs. The problem was we could never work out a way of handling them. Where do you put them in a set when you don't do that style any more?"

Drummer Tim Powles recalled: "We played The Unguarded Moment once in LA and we sounded like a covers band.

"We didn't know how not to do that version."

Kilbey said: "I was nervous about doing The Unguarded Moment again. The song had grown out of all proportion.

"But when we did it I thought, well, it wasn't such a bad song, as long as you could strip away all that angry young angst around it."

And so back in to the studio the band went, plucking nine tracks from its career -- from 1981's The Unguarded Moment to Sealine from last year's Forget Yourself. And between them the band interspersed five superb new tracks.

BUT more importantly, the inclusion of the old tracks, in all their reborn, shining glory, allows the band to exorcise old ghosts. They also have proved they can face the music of their youth and appreciate its beauty, yet still be free of accusation that they are no better than acts such as the Psychedelic Furs, last seen by the band touring with Berlin and rasping out Love My Way on the dreaded revival circuit.

The acoustic album, El Momento Descuidado, was an astonishingly rapid project. Determined they would not labour over the new arrangements, they rehearsed, recorded and mixed the album in only five days, resisting even the temptation to return and lay down harmonies to fatten it up.

"We'd never done any of the arrangements before we went into the studio," Marty Willson-Piper said. "It was all very fresh."

The session was slipped into the last days of studio time for a new album, to be released next year. Willson-Piper promises that album, yet to be titled, is lighter in mood than the most recent ones.

The band insists its albums bear only a part resemblance to its live performances, which tend increasingly to be 20-minute jams.

The evolution of the band's sound has long ago driven a cleft between it and commercial radio, though there is a faint hope one or two new tracks might appeal to the Nova or Triple M networks. Not that the band cares much.

Said Willson-Piper: "It's better not to be successful on your own terms than to be successful on someone else's terms."

Kilbey laughed as he said: "And we're very unsuccessful on our own terms."

El Momento Descuidado is released by Liberation Blue on November 29. The Church play at The Famous Spiegeltent, Melbourne Arts Centre, on Wednesday.

SE inside entertainment

HD Church lets guard down


WC 697 words

PD 28 November 2004

SN Sunday Herald Sun



PG E15

LA English

CY Copyright 2004 News Ltd. All Rights Reserved



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