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Marty talks about how travel affected Rhyme Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 January 1991

An interesting interview by Dino Scatena with Marty, done in Stockholm.

12-String Gypsies

When The Church go off the road, its members return to their homes in various parts of the world to rest. Which is why their solo LPs are so different to Church records. Dino Scten speaks to marty Willson-Piper in his home base, Stockholm.

It is early morning in a sunny Swedish day. Marty Willson-Piper -- Church guitarist and solo artist - sits casually in his study. While the rest of the world has yet to wipe the sleep from its eyes, Marty already has the best part of the day behind him. “I write all the best songs before midday," he points out.

Marty’s house is "full of things". One wall of his study is plastered with albums, singles, cassettes and CDs - the legacy of being a longtime record collector. Around the other walls are the tools of his craft - a four-track recorder, a dozen guitars, three keyboards and an assortment of other instruments of all shapes. One of the keyboards acts as a temporary cot for a Burmese cat who is oblivious to the conversation filling the air around it. Marty at home is Marty at his most relaxed. Although far from considering himself a hermit, he sees his apartment in Sweden as something of a retreat from the outside world. “I'm quite a sociable person so I don’t like to lock myself away too much," he says. “I consider myself quite a disciplined worker as far as my writing songs and working on projects is concerned but l don’t particularly like to lock myself in a room with bolts on the door and a sign saying, ‘Do Not Disturb on Pain of Death’. I like to lead a reasonably communicative life.” Marty Ends himself in Sweden after having lived in England, Germany, Spain and Australia. “l’ve always been a kind of transient fellow myself," he says. “I've always spent a lot of my life travelling around. Although, I'm finding these days that I'm getting pretty sick of it, actually.  
“When I do get back home after being away a lot and I am away a lot because I'm an English guy, living in Sweden, playing in an Australian group which spends a lot of its time in America. I'm getting quite tired of going backwards. and forwards on aeroplanes.

“When I put my key in my front door here in Stockholm and walk in and there’s my apartment and my girlfriend and my life - my room full of its records and my studio. I'm very happy just to sit here. I fantasise about being able to sit around and enjoy that. I’ve been to so many of the cities in the world so many times - both with The Church and by myself even before I was involved in music in a lot of cases - so I'm kind of enjoying the creative side of home life. When you're travelling a lot, you tend to find you get side-tracked by the travelling and where you are a lot.”

Marty’s travels are documented and reflected on his latest solo album, Rhyme. On the record's inner-sleeve, the time and place of the songs' compositions are noted. They range from Sydney 1982 to Los Angeles and Stockholm 1988. “I think geography can effect you,” says Marty. “I tend to think ‘Questions Without Answers' couldn‘t have been written unless I‘d been in America. And, also, I would definitely say ‘St. Germain’ would not have been written unless I'd been in St. Germain in Paris."

“I sat down and wrote that song in St. Germain -- I was just looking out of a window in an apartment, inspired by where I was. That song totally came from the Parisian atmosphere. Whereas a song like ‘Time is Imaginary’ is kind of ungeographical.

“l think songs are funny creatures and I think they should be treated in all different ways. On Rhyme, there are songs like ‘Time is Imaginary’ - which I know my record company in America thought was the best track on the record - which I wrote in 20 minutes. That’s the lyrics and everything. Other songs you ponder over for a period of time. lt’s different every time.”

Anyone who has ever heard a Church song will automatically draw comparisons between Marty’s solo work (Rhyme is his third album) and his work with the band. The two are quite distinct. Marty's work, like that of Kilbey’s away from the band, is much more experimental. It seems the band have some idea of what ‘The Church’ should sound like and in turn free themselves up creatively when it comes to their solo efforts.

“The Church is pretty much a three-headed monster," explains Marty, in as much as it’s the front three members of the band working on the direction of the record together whereas with Rhyme it’s me that’s writing the songs - I'm the guitarist and the singer and the lyricist. Apart from the help of Andy Mason (co-producer of Rhyme), it is my creative direction in which the album is going. With The Church, it’s Steve, Peter and myself who are all demanding it goes whichever way one of us want it to go.

During The Church’s first decade together, Marty’s friendship with Steve Kilbey has acted as the band’s driving force. Marty says he and Steve are now the closest they’ve ever been. The secret to their relationship has been to work off the differences in their personalities. “We have similar tastes in some things and opposite tastes in others,” says Marty. “Steve is more inclined to have the world come to him while l’m more likely to go to the world. That’s probably the essential difference between the two us."

Despite of different outlooks on life, the two actually come from very similar backgrounds. Both have English parents, although Steve was brought up in Australia, and both come from families who placed a strong emphasis on the arts.

“I have quite a literary father,” says Marty with a smile. “My father was always quoting Shakespeare at me. He’s got that big booming voice and is a quite intimidating fellow, my father. And he always used to quote literature at me, especially Shakespeare, and still does."


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