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Countdown magazine talks to Richard and Marty Print E-mail
Wednesday, 01 January 1986

Countdown magazine talks to Richard and Marty in 1986, as Already Yesterday is being overlooked for radio airplay.

 

Countdown
January 1986

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The Resurrection Shuffle
by Mark Bradridge

The Church are the unsung heroes of paisley power. They stuck to their 12-string guitars whilst everyone around went synthpop. Mark Bradridge decides their time has arrived at last.

If you thought The Church had split up sometime last year, you might be forgiven. Or perhaps not. Misconceptions, it seems, run rife.

“And I know the reason,” says drummer Richard Ploog, “the media here is old, balding, sexist and overweight!

“Not you, of course…”

Gee, thanks. I’d also heard you’d left the group, Richard.

“I heard that too. It was even in RAM and On The Street. There’s never been any thought in my mind of leaving this group. I want to stick it out until the end.”

“If people paid a little more attention, there wouldn’t be these misconceptions,” says Marty Willson-Piper, he of the jangly 12-string Rickenbacker guitar.

Granted, but it’s been a quiet 18 months or so for Messrs Ploog, Willson-Piper, Kilbey and Koppes, whose last Australian recorded output (until now) had been the EP ‘Persia’, in mid-’84. Their last long-player was ‘Séance’ in early ’83. But The Church have in fact been quite busy.

Warner Brothers America signed the group in ’84, released a compilation album of the EPs ‘Remote Luxury’ and ‘Persia’, while the group toured there in the last half of that year promoting it.

The album topped the US college charts, but while not exactly earning them a Rolls Royce apiece, did give them a nudge in the credibility stakes.

The group spent most of 1985 writing, rehearsing and recording the new LP ‘Heyday’, their most concise, confident and consistently interesting effort to date. Even Kilbey’s trademark monotone has been overswept by the songs’ sheer potency.

The album was produced by Peter Walsh, chosen for his work on Simple Minds’ ‘New Gold Dream’ and Scot Walker’s much-ignored ‘Climate for Reason’.

“It’s much more focused,” says Richard. “We’ve done our mysterious bit, and our laid-back bit. Now it’s time for something more punchy, maybe more light-hearted, ‘deep without a meaning’.”

“It’s a first in that we all contributed to the music, while Steve did the lyrics. Because we decided to do it together, it’s come out better than anything we’ve done in the past,” says Marty. “Walsh brought out a lot in Steve. His voice really breaks through.”

The album was held back so it could be simultaneously released worldwide, to counter a previous confusion of various albums and EPs being released at different times in the US, Australia and Europe. The Church have now untangled themselves from their English label Carrere, who Marty says held on to them for four years “and did absolutely nothing”. The relationship did at least give the group showings in the independent charts as the UK, then Europe, started championing the group’s neo-psychedelia.

Warners, it seems, see The Church as part of the much-hyped “new guitar movement”, alongside the likes of REM, Lone Justice, Rain Parade, etc.

“It’s just another pigeonhole,” says Richard. “We’re not that ‘new’ for a start. We were doing this when it was very out of date and everyone was into synth-pop.”

Are you amused to see similarly-inspired music now coming into favour?

Marty: “Not really amused. More frustrated.”

Richard: “In a way frustrated, but if we get our due respect and success which I think we deserve worldwide, then OK. If not, it would be unjust.”

It’s likely The Church will be given “Paisley Pioneers” status, while the superlatives are directed at their US peers.

Richard: “But that’s usually the case. If you look through rock history, that was the fate of the best groups. Hopefully we won’t go down in history as that.”

One factor which might impede The Church’s progress (in this country anyway) is mainstream radio. Apart from, say, ‘Unguarded Moment’ and ‘Almost With You’, their singles have been met with breathtaking indifference by AM programmers.

At time of writing, the new ‘Already Yesterday’ seemed destined for the same fate.

Marty: “If they don’t know that our single is worth playing, then that’s their bloody great loss. It’s just ridiculous. I don’t have any grudges, but if they don’t want to play our records, I don’t know what we can do about it. I just hope we can somehow fit into their silly system.”

Richard: “There’s been a lot of talk of ‘Australian product first’, but that’s not the case. It’s a superficial attitude, and a lot of groups who aren’t played here are raved about overseas—they’re forced to go over there.”

Like The Church?

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Transcribed by Mike Fulmer

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 28 March 2017 )
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