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Kerrang introduces the band, talks to Peter and Nick Ward? Print E-mail
Thursday, 13 January 1983

An interesting early interview with a couple of quotes from Peter about the band's intentions. The interview quotes Nick Ward, but since it was published in 1983, long after Nick left The Church, perhaps the writer used a quote from an earlier interview or press release? Or maybe got the quote from Richard Ploog, but forgot his name and looked on the back of "Of Skins And Heart" to try and get it again, and got the earlier drummer's name instead. Either way, there it is. 

Preacher Feature

Malcom Dome goes down the aisles with The Church

'THE SOUND': Sift through the annals of rock, and you'll inevitably find that all GREAT bands were possessed of a distinctive sound. Zeppelin, Purple, Floyd, Genesis, AC/DC... they're each instantly recognisable as soon as any of their records hit the turntable. So are The Church.

An Australian quartet formed in April 1980, the band are exactly the right catalyst to bring the threatened 'New Era Of Progressive Rock' in this country nicely to the boil. Elements of early Floyd, T.Rex, Hawkwind and William Burroughs swirl and flow to produce an overall beverage palpably related more to the new Rush than anything else on the present music scene.

For, like Geddy's men, this band are thinkers, creating an intensity of ideas in a polite fashion. Aural wallpaper that has to be physically torn from walls to be fully appreciated.

To date, The Church have issued two LPs on Saxon-handed Carrere, viz 'The Church' in '81 and the recent 'Blurred Crusade'. Neither are masterpieces, yet both are mesmerising - flawed diamonds in a musical mineshaft where ordinary chunks of charcoal are all too often mistaken for the real thing.

The two albums have definite features in common, in particular, a style of musical arrangement best described as leaving gaps in the fabric through which the listener is invited to participate.

"Our music is intended to wake up people's imaginations," reveals drummer Nick Ward [sic: should be Richard Ploog?] (the other members of the band being vocalist/bassist Steve Kilbey and Pete Koppes and Marty Willson-Piper, both on guitars/vocals). "We tend to understate our songs, and that is more powerful than overstatment.

"Our numbers are like mini movies," continues Koppes. "People today go to the cinema and try to guess the ending of a film even before it's begun. And then if it proves to be as predictable as they thought, they leave disappointed. With The Church, we're always striving to retain the element of surprise."

Certainly, the majority of recorded works from the band fit into the 'unpredictable' category, especially on the lyrical side. Phrases like 'tell those girls with rifles for minds', and 'tell those men with horses for hearts' (both from The Unguarded Moment on their debut LP) leave much room (perhaps too much for the average punter?) for personal interpretation.

As Koppes says: "The lyrics stand up as poetry in their own right. We want them to be sort of timeless, able to contain a relevance for people not only now, but in the future. We aren't interested in naive political statements."

The Church are constantly changing and regrouping traditional musical ideas.

"We always keep an open mind," explains Koppes. "With our line-up of bass, drum and guitars there are obvious limits, but we enjoy experimenting with other instruments in the studio. To us, music is the perfect expression of poetry, changing with the times and remaining the most powerful conveyor of ideologies and thoughts in exstence. As musicians we are forever reaching ahead, trying out new things and fresh arrangements. We want to touch everyone, but in our own fashion."

Critical/public acceptance of the enigma that is The Church won't happen overnight. Evolution, rather than revolution is their way forward. And I would be the first to admit that this band don't make it easy for the listener. They demand so much. But...Kerrang! readers should be prepared to rise to the band's challenge. Hunt down the albums, check 'em out when they return to the UK live circuit and read through the imminently published book of Steve Kilbey's poetry 'The Crowded Visible' [sic: It was supposed to be called The Crowd Invisible, but never came out -- Brian 2010].

Then, perhaps, sometime in the near future, we can further discuss in these hallowed pages The Church, and their attitude to fame, fables and fear.

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