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Peter Koppes talks to Real Detroit about the music industry Print E-mail
Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Peter talks to Real Detroit Weekly about the music industry and the band. Originally published at http://www.realdetroitweekly.com/content/article_6354.shtml

Article / interview by Julia Fitzgerald

The Church's Pete Koppes
On The Blasphemous Music Industry

“MTV and most of the record companies should be put up against the wall and shot for what they’ve done to the art of music,” says Peter Koppes, guitar player of Aussie alt-rock heroes The Church. It’s seven in the morning, Australia time, and his soft voice is surprisingly calm. “At the time we were doing Starfish, we had to fight MTV, since they were playing those nonsense bands like Poison and Area 42, I think it was called, whoever was responsible for all that music that’s so irrelevant and laughable. It’s still laughable! I hope I’m not offending anyone around there, if you take music like that seriously … ”

Starfish is The Church’s 1988 hit album, which pushed the band (reluctantly) into the mainstream with the strength of songs like “Under the Milky Way” and “Reptile.” Despite the album’s international success, the band dropped back under the radar, steadily growing a passionate fanbase in Australia and elsewhere. Now, after 30 years together and 23 albums to show for it, they’re embarking on a unique US tour to pay back some of their most      dedicated fans.

“We always felt we had a multi-album career rather than just a one-album kind of career,” he says. “And we wanted to do an acoustic tour, more an intimate kind of thing like a private party, and represent a song from every album … we have more than 20 albums! That’s a bit too long for us, we never do 20 songs in one show! So we do the show in two parts,” Koppes explains. “We have an intermission, like a really sophisticated ensemble.”

Thirty years is a long time, especially in the music world. The band has survived by staying true to themselves as artists, instead of just trying to repeat a commercial windfall. “Some people have written in Australia that ‘Under the Milky Way’ is the best Australian single ever … we never take any of that seriously, because as an artist you’re only trying to please yourself, ultimately,” he says. “You won’t be satisfied unless you’re doing what you want to do. We’ve been doing that from the very beginning, and Starfish might have been our sixth album or seventh album and having a hit on that song and that album vindicated us to not try to repeat the success of that. On our first album, in Australia, we had a big hit, and we never tried to repeat it. And we’re still around after 30 years, where a lot of bands aren’t.”

Talking to Koppes for any length of time, you come to realize that the man has his opinions. He keeps coming back around to the phenomenon of artists having a legacy that falls as they release more, and how older bands need to learn a thing or two about embracing the future: “EMI, in England, was sued by Pink Floyd for allowing their songs to be downloaded individually instead of as the whole album. I think that’s arrogant on their part. They’re one of my favorite bands whose legacy was disappointing and reflects badly on bands like us, makes people think bands don’t get better as they get older, so I’d rather they not put out records, y’know?”

And for as much as he despised ‘em back in the day, Peter has faith in the music industry now. “I think there will be a lot more bands like Radiohead and Sigur Ros who can represent themselves and succeed through the Internet. It levels the field. Now everybody can compete with the majors. It’s beautiful.”   | RDW
Julia Fitzgerald
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