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Peter talks about The Well Print E-mail
Saturday, 01 December 1990

Thoughts from Peter about The Well and some information about Richard Ploog's departure from The Church. From Juke Dec 1 1990, Page 11

The Well

Peter Koppes' New Side Project


The facts, ma’am, are these: Peter Koppes, one half of one of the finest twin guitar attacks this country has ever seen, has gained local release for his second solo album, From The Well. And to support same has put together a band, that will probably go on to record an album before The Church reforms sometime next year.

“There is an internal tension in The Church, it‘s part of our makeup,” explains Koppes, “the solo things we all do are not in competition with the band, or each other. We all go off at different musical tangents sometimes, and Steve’s, or Marty’s or my solo projects are a release as much as anything.

“There is this strange obsession with sport, particularly in Australia - people want to identify with winners, and in art or music there can‘t be definite winners and losers applied, but they even attempt to put an artificial competitive measure on that, with Top 40 sales charts. I’m happy with my record, and that’s the only criteria that’s valid to me."

"In fact, The Church has never been stronger - we actually played some of our best shows ever on this last tour, despite the fact we seemed to be playing all the wrong places at the wrong times - a show in Denver, not even a big Church market, was maybe the best we`ve ever done. Fix had been released about three days before, so the audience didn‘t even know most of the songs.

“We (The Church) were so together on that tour, we were almost surprised ourselves, and wanted & try and keep that dynamic going, by going straight off the road and recording immediately with J.D. (Dougherty, former Patti Smith drummer who joined for the Fix tour) but, er, management problems got in the way.”

The Church are apparently going through the legalities of escaping from their American management team, although Koppes will remain signed to them as a solo artist. Yet more aggravation in the continuing labyrinth soap opera which is The Church.

Interviewing Koppes over a cup of tea in his beachside flat is an intriguing, but slightly uncomfortable, experience. He fixes you with his gaze, and is truly sincere as he tries to get a point across. He thinks as he goes, backtracking over things, then wondering if he has given too much away with a remark. He's not ducking and weaving, playing mind and word games like another member of The Church has been known to.

This passionate, almost painfully honest, approach of Koppes is apparent on parts of From The Well, actually recorded before Gold Afternoon Fix. Well deals, at times, with Koppes’ relationship with his estranged wife. I wonder about him making his personal life so public, by putting it down on record.

“It's probably not cathartic as you suggest. ‘Cathartic` is like deliberately inflicting the pain on yourself over a problem,” he measures the words, “This is more like a thought process - trying to understand the problems, defining and making them clearer, putting them in a form I can be familiar with.

“And now, having a band playing them, the Well songs are revealing a new depth, even for me - just by having a human element, some different perspectives, maybe the songs are reaching their full potential." He has not looked away from me once, not flinched the personal questions. His calm is a little disconcerting.

One of the most uncomfortable tracks features Peter and wife Melodie’s children: an earlier song has the kids sharing a snapshop - sweet Lullaby with their mother, but “Nursery Fugue" is something quite different. Over an eerie keyboard wash, the children sing tunelessly. The overall effect is quite unsettling.

“You remember Village Of The Damned (British sci-fi film of the 50’s)? The children in that - with the shiny eyes: so evil, but still children - that was the image that came into my mind as soon as I heard that. The track was an accident, to be honest. The children were just being like all children - wanting to play with the mikes, and with the reverb unit attached they just sand, while on a separate track was some keyboard lines - and that’s pretty much what you hear.”

Koppes’ touring band, to be known as The Well, as well, is an interesting unit of well-credentialled players. Bassist is Celibate Rifles’ Jim Leone. Peter: “The Rifles and Damian Lovelock’s Wigworld stuff are a lot closer to the Church than you’d think - when we get Damian up to sing one of his songs with The Church, we find them really easy to learn - they fit our format without much problem.”

Anthony Smith of the original FIowers/Ice- house is on keyboards, and the drummer is one Richard Ploog, formerly, though not currently, of some band called The Church. “Er, yes. There is still an internal tension in The Church over Richard,” explains Peter. “To be honest, it's an individual tension between him and another member, but I probably shouldn‘t say any more."

And what of The Church?

“We`re in a really good position now. For the next record we can record when, where and with whoever we like. After Starfish with Greg Ladanyi, now that was a trial. Waddy Watchel, Starfish and Fix, has some very fixed ideas - we have mentioned the internal dynamic of The Church haven’t we?"

Er, yeah.

“Well, it mixes in with that.

“Even with the solo stuff, The Church is still important. We wouldn’t want to get to that Pink Floyd situation - they’ve proved the hard way that the whole was certainly greater than the sum of its parts - and you have to admit that Steve is still the king of the dreamy land- scape," he smiles, and that’s a relief.

- ROSS CLELLAND
 

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