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Tim Powles talks to Reverb magazine Print E-mail
Wednesday, 01 April 2009
Tim Powles gave an interesting interview to Mark Moldre for Reverb magazine.

Mark Moldre

INTERVIEW WITH TIM POWLES: REVERB MAGAZINE
A new album from The Church, a band that has continued to remain a creative force in Australian music is always an exciting prospect. They’ve never been a band to rest on the laurels of past success but have continued to pave their own way through Australian music history. They can still tour the US and Europe, filling theatres without feeling the need for the set to be filled with their greatest hits, instead they are happy to look ahead, not wallow in past success. Right now, Church fans have much to look forward to as they are going through a prolific patch. A soundtrack for a sci-fi book, 2 EP’s, a brand new full length album, an ongoing daily blog from Steve Kilbey, multiple solo releases and next year will be the bands 30th anniversary. Mark Moldre was lucky enough to speak to drummer/producer/songwriter (and much more), Tim Powles over dinner...in fact they talked so much that they had to finish this interview via email.
       
With each Church album tending to sound quite different from the next, what can we expect with this new one?
The making of Untitled #23 has definitely resulted in some kind of simplicity and style that gives the album a point of difference to all that went before it. In particular it’s a shift away from the renaissance jangle of 2006's Uninvited Like The Clouds - it has a sense of deconstruction and at the same time total purpose, but without some of the pomp and ceremony of earlier Church classics. It’s melodically original and at times almost harmonically obtuse, stark and yet lush, it doesn’t try to do everything in one go, its relaxed and grown up, arty but really solid.

As the band’s back catalogue is so large what can we expect to hear at the shows this time round?
It’s very much a concert set from album 2 till album 26 (who's counting), we've pulled some encore faves actually into the set - even included a song from Remote Luxury, a song the band haven’t ever played since I've been in it, and that’s over 16 years. We've included five new songs from the new album and retired a few we just couldn’t maintain enthusiasm for. It’s been a very natural and mostly democratic process - we’ll have a little help from some friends onstage too.

With the band spread all over different parts of the country – in fact, the world - how does the writing collaboration work?
Writing is almost always on the spot with all of us in jam mode, so unless we're all convened in one place, it simply doesn’t occur.

And when you start Day 1 of recording are you all in the studio on the same day to put down the guide tracks?
It’s very rare that we aren’t all involved in some way on everything - though we do swap instruments a lot, (more than most realise) and sometimes if members are overseas or unavailable we jump in and cover for each other.

Does the fact that you all live so far apart keep it fresh when you get together in the studio?
Possibly yes, we're not great at being around each other endlessly......but what reactionary musical forces are?

Even though you were the last person to join the band it seems to me that you’re a strong creative and logistical force in the band: writing, producing, engineering, mixing, etc....would you agree?
Yes, I was the last to join, in the early nineties actually, and yes, I’m a strong creative and logistical force in the band, all that stuff, but so are the others. Where I definitely spend more time than the others is in the production and logistical running of things - though Marty Willson-Piper has taken over in the last few years there, so I stay heavily involved on a daily basis but now focus more on helping the band achieve the sonic stuff we need to, in the studio and onstage. It makes sense to have a healthy and stimulating career outside the group as a producer, label owner and artist manager - it all goes hand in hand

And do you enjoy wearing so many hats?
Not always, I’m finding as time goes on after so many years of wearing lotsa hats that I’m enjoying being one of the lads that hit things and make sounds more than one who props things up that may lean or fall over. Having said that, the legacy I’ve inherited by hanging in so long with this band and making more records now with me in the band than they were BEFORE I joined.... that legacy is something I enjoy being a part of, and its rare and something I challenge young artists to aspire too – that longevity.

Many Australian bands have fallen by the wayside or just continue to tour on the strength of hits that are decades old. Yet, The Church have managed to retain their credibility as a creative force. Why haven’t The Church gone the way of many other Oz Bands that appeared in the 80’s?
There are so many reasons for this, not all of them mine or mine to explain. But I do know that a combination of telling the "man" to go jump, pride in being different from the pack. Determination to NOT become an outer suburban party or concept band, a continued ability to attract audiences in Europe and USA, that is, an international awareness and aspiration, a healthy inability to toe the line and be corporate when required – that’s not always planned but sometimes caused by less than healthy personal histories - living in different countries or never really having been fully embraced by the mainstream anyway. For example, people often say "Oh yeah, The Church- I LOVE them, they're a fave, I always play their stuff, yeah cool band.......are they still together???"

So...the Pangaea EP, the Shriek soundtrack, the Coffee Hounds EP,  a new Church album, Painkiller with Steve Kilbey, plus all your production work with other bands...how in the world do you find the inspiration and time?
Inspiration is usually easy, I LOVE seeing things grow and realise themselves, then go out and flourish and continue to grow. Time is different, not so easy, there's always so much I want to do and so many ideas and I’ve had a lot of painful lessons on that one over the last ten years. BUT I have faith in the synchronicity of things "turning out' if that’s all you believe in and allow - and it’s proving itself over and over again. Add to that, things like, I DONT WATCH TELEVISION!

What can we expect to hear from Tim Powles in the future?
Well I have another solo album in the works, but such a queue of records to start and finish for others; I have no idea when/how I’ll get it done and out. My melodic contribution to The Church in recent times with loads of mellotron, other keyboards, backing vocals and even a few guitar solos- it all keeps me feeling mostly sated creatively. I guess the big question is will/can The Church make another record to coincide with our 30 year anniversary next year?
 

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