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Brief interview with Ian in Rolling Stone Print E-mail
Tuesday, 08 September 2015

Ian talks about joining the band and fitting in.

Originally published at


In 2014 when ex-Powderfinger guitarist Ian Haug told Rolling Stone he “was with the Church now”, we thought he was telling us about having a religious intervention – until it dawned on us that he was merely announcing a marriage made in heaven. Haug’s deft and tasteful guitar work made him to the perfect guitarist to step into the position vacated by long-time Church axeman Marty Wilson-Piper, and since then, it has been obvious that the new recruit has injected new life into the band.

Talking to us backstage from the US where they are on tour with the Psychedelic Furs, Haug fills us in on how he’s fitting in with the classic Aussie band. “The crowds have been really accepting of me. I think the main reason is that my approach has been that I’m not trying to replace Marty, I’m just trying to put my own spin on the songs. I can’t play exactly like him, just like he probably can’t play exactly like me, so it’s inevitable that there’ll be a difference in the sound.”

We suggest that it must be hard fitting into a band that has been around for as long as the Church. “No it’s been pretty good in that regard. We’ve all been around the block a few times, so everyone’s got their own way of doing things, their own ways of keeping sane on tour. It just works.” Haug gives the impression that the Church are in a good place at the moment. The band, despite having penned some solid entries into the Great Australian Songbook (“Under the Milky Way”, “The Unguarded Moment”, “Metropolis”, “Reptile”) have refused to rest on their past achievements. While their contemporaries broke-up, reformed and toured the country’s RSLs with Greatest Hits shows, The Church never stopped their forward trajectory, churning out a staggering 20 studio albums between 1981 and last year’s Further/Deeper (the first album Haug played on). Their proto-indie rock sound has broadened in scope to something that could be described as inter-galactic, cutting between jangle-pop, massive soundscapes and angular noise. The Church’s fans are rabid, and argue the merits of each new release vehemently, so it’s great to see that Haug, (who is a strong contender for the nicest guy in Aussie rock) has earned the respect of the Church’s crowd. Haug is a self-confessed fan of the band, and he says he often finds himself wishing for a few classics to drop into the setlist. “Steve Kilbey has a pretty clear idea of what he wants to play and he’s not that interested in playing those songs, but I’m always ready for him to kick into “The Unguarded Moment”. Haug chuckles, “He never does though.”

[Ed note: When I met Ian in Florida during September 2017, I asked him which songs he'd like to play - he said "Lay Low" from Forget Yourself was his first pick.]

The Church are headlining Newtown’s Small World Festival on Saturday the 19th of September at Sydney Park, and it will probably be one of the last shows before The Church take a break to prepare for writing the next album. With Haug having his own recording studio (Airlock) and several production credits to his name, we ask if he might be taking the Church up to Brisbane for the next recording. “No, I don’t think so. I think we’ll keep it on neutral ground. Maybe we’ll do some writing there if we all end up in the same place at the right time. ”

Despite being hesitant about announcing a new record, Haug seems confident that the ball will get moving pretty quickly after this last show at Small World. We ask Haug what sort of place Newtown has in his heart. “I always remember it being a really creative place in the ’90s. We used to see bands at the Sando and the place had a really good music scene, a great vibe. I enjoyed playing Splendour this year but I like the idea of having these smaller festivals.”

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