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Steve talks about Starfish and Wachtel's influence on it Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 November 2010
Starfish's success is beginning to become apparent...

Unknown Australian Newspaper source
Early 1988

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The Church

The release of their new Starfish album may see financial success coming to this popular local band

[The] Church has had an influence in the music world disproportionate to its sales but the group now seems set for some overseas financial success.

After a number of albums with EMI they’ve joined Mushroom and taken on New York-based rock manager Mike Lembo.

Their album Starfish, which is released here tomorrow, has already made some impact on the US Billboard chart.

It was hovering just outside the Top One Hundred last week. Their hooky Under The Milky Way single is Top Thirty nationally in Australia, and getting a lot of play on US college radio.

If it crosses over into the pop stations it will be their first big US hit.

“The album did 60,000 on pre-sales alone in America,” Steve Kilbey reported, sounding pleased. “And Milky Way is getting flogged to death on lots and lots of radio stations in America who’ve never touched the Church before.”

Kilbey, lead singer and songwriter, said some of the credit may  be due to Waddy Wachtel and Greg Ladanyi, two West Coast session experts who worked intensively on the new music.

“I was saying to the boys in the band, if the album does really well it will be because of them, and if it doesn’t it will be because we wouldn’t cooperate with them enough,” Kilbey said. “In this business if you’re not paranoid you’re naive.”

Supersession guitarist Waddy Wachtel toured Australia a couple of years ago with Joe Walsh. Their power chords and guitar heroics seem a long way from the style of the Church.

“He’s got a lot of energy for a guy his age and how long he’s been doing it. He’s got this really funny kind of Jewish perspective on how to do things. He was good; he had some valuable insights to contribute.

“We rehearsed for a month with Waddy just going over the same songs. The drummer and I suddenly became more conscious of how we should be playing together as a bass player and drummer which is something we’d never thought about before.

“The guitarists simplified what they were doing. Waddy would just sit there and go over and over the songs and pick them apart.

“Angus Young’s his biggest hero in the whole world, which is funny because I absolutely loathe AC/DC. But if it had been another producer then we would have just made another of those Church albums. It would have been the usual jingle jangle guitar.

“But all Waddy likes is AC/DC and stuff like that. And you’ve got Greg Ladanyi, who owns his own studio and it into the Don Henley set, and you’ve got us. We ended up somewhere in the centre doing something none of us had ever anticipated. It sure doesn’t sound like another Church album.”

The Church, for a middle-ranking Australian band has always wielded an international influence disproportionate to the number of records it sells.

“It’s funny, every time we tour the States there’s always a band opening up for us in each small town and playing Unguarded Moment,” Kilbey said. “I think there’s probably a few guys sitting in their bedrooms now playing guitars who really like the Church, who haven’t really done anything yet.

“But there are lots of little bands in America and the Church are their number one influence. I think it’s mainly because we’re so obscure. I was very much like that when I was starting out. I loved anyone who was obscure. If anyone else had heard of them I immediately didn’t like them.”

[The] Church will be back in Australia in late April for just a few dates.

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Transcribed by Mike Fulmer

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