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Peter talks about the 30 year anniversary Print E-mail
Friday, 11 February 2011

A short interview with Peter about his thoughts on the 30 year anniversary and the albums they're playing on the tour.

 

Alternative band The Church celebrates 30 years together

Friday, February 11, 2011
By ADAM RICHTER
The Express-Times

In the world of music, 30 years is more than a lifetime. It's longer than some marriages; all the marriages, in fact, of the members of The Church.

"We haven't made the marriages work," says Peter Koppes, guitarist for the Australian band that is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

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Though Koppes left the band several times, he says, the pull of The Church's music kept him coming back.

"The chemistry of the music is the overpowering thing," he says. "We never feel it's hard. The greatest joy for a musician, I think, is creating new songs."

The Church's celebration of 30 years includes a tour that will take them Tuesday to Philadelphia's Trocadero Theatre. The concert features the band playing three albums in their entirety: "Untitled #23," "Priest=Aura" and "Starfish."

"Starfish" is the album that yielded the band's lone top-40 hit in the United States: 1988's "Under the Milky Way." The song went through a revival more than a decade later when it was used in the 2001 cult film "Donnie Darko." But The Church's creative output is much more than one song -- they released 19 albums since 1981 -- and "Under The Milky Way" wasn't ever intended to be a hit, Koppes says.

Frontman Steve Kilby wrote it as a lark, Koppes says.

"He was mimicking a crooner when he wrote 'Under the Milky Way,' and then our manager said, 'No, you should record this song,'" Koppes says.

"We had a very irreverent attitude to it, which is haunting us to this day," he says.

Though casual listeners know The Church for that one song, devoted fans know them best perhaps as an album band -- understandably so, considering they have 23 full-length albums and a half-dozen EPs under their belts.

"We have an audience of people who love the band as an album band," Koppes says.

With that in mind, it didn't take much to figure out what to play on the "Future Past Perfect" anniversary tour. "Starfish" is a given, of course. Hardcore Church fans consider 1992's "Priest=Aura" the band's artistic peak, Koppes says, so that made it into the set list. Koppes seems most proud of the third album on the set list and the band's latest release: 2009's "Untitled #23."

The album received a critic's score of 82 out of 100 on the website metacritic.com, and Rolling Stone Australia gave "Untitled #23" five out of five stars. Koppes says the album is jazzier and with more sophisticated harmonies than earlier records. It doesn't sound like vintage Church; nor is it supposed to, he says.

"You can't be a re-creation. You have to do something that's right for now. We think that's what that album is," he says.

The Church managed to stay together not only because of the chemistry that Koppes described earlier but, he says, because they've avoided attempts to be popular. Pop music by definition will become unpopular later, he says. They never wanted to simply be a fleeting fashion.

"We never liked melodramatic, superficial music. It's like religion ... We're very religious about the importance of music and the music culture," Koppes says.

Adam Richter can be reached at 610-258-7171 or Talk about entertainment at lehighvalleylive.com/forums.

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