Starfish Days

1st February 1998
A few days ago I mentioned on the Seance mailing list that it had been ten years since Starfish, the first Church album to achieve major international success, had been released. Starfish is the sentimental favourite of many Church fans because, thanks to the its worldwide success, it formed their introduction to the band.

I was surprised at the number of wonderful memories and postings this observation sparked. Marcelo Guevarra suggested I collect them together and make them available over the web. Here they are.

Last update : 9th Feb.
Glen started it all...
From: Glen (
Subject: Starfish Days (A Retrospective)
The mention of the 10-year anniversary of Starfish got me to thinking a little. I bought Starfish, along with several other CDs, when I joined Columbia House's CD club (something I've done about 30 times now). My brother had given me an archaic CD player, so I was really buying CDs for the first time. I had really liked "Under the Milky Way" and was familiar with the Church because my best friend from high school had "Heyday," so I decided to take a chance on a couple of CDs (the other being the Replacements "Don't Tell A Soul," an equally outstanding purchase).

Wow, did it blow me away! Synthpop was fading a little (I begrudgingly had to admit) and I finally opened my eyes to something without a drum machine. I was crammed into a house with four other guys, had no car, worked at a grocery store (= no money), and lived across town from the college campus (which made it a challenge, with my car-less status, to get to class every day). And life was great! I can still remember going to bed at night, with probably more than a few domestic brews settling in my stomach, listening to "Destination" and drifting off to sleep...What about the rest of you? What were you doing when Starfish hit the shelves?

Karen Clayton
I owned a typing service which occupied the back of a record store in Carbondale, IL. My business catered almost strictly to SIUC students. I remember hearing the first notes of "Destination" and running up to the front of the store yelling "It's the new Church album, isn't it?" Needless to say, I didn't show much profit from my business since I spent much of it on music.
Hmmmm... this was '87. I was managing bands in Denver and trying to finish an MA. I second the domestic beer comment, though I wasn't all that broke, but who I was hanging out with was.

Nights that went until 3 AM - and I had to be at my day job at 7AM.... It was really exciting to have been so involved in the music biz when Starfish came out. I was left with a real sense of the level of success - and the general industry buzz they caused at the time. I had been such a follower of the band - and they had released nothing in 2 years - there was a great deal of anticipation when Starfish was finally released - and as much for the re-issues when they turned up a few months later.

Personally, I never have fawned over that lp. (Hey Sue - obligatory Waddy sucks comment) I liked it. I liked the fact that soooo many kids liked it. And that this caused many to investigate the other lps.... As for many of us, the Church are kind of a *cause*... a Blurred Crusade, so to speak, and I was happy that one of my *pet acts* had finally gotten near the top.

I also look at those daze fondly as they were the edge of my impetuous youth and all that. The last years of having fun with 'rooms and vitamin *a* - smoking joints in the back seat and all the really crazy fun one has before they *settle down* (like silt on the bottom of the riverbed) and do something absurd like get married... and have children.

This music was a part of it.

Hmmm... i was 16 and in high school, living in arizona at the time (s. west usa) and as always it was easily 110 degrees in the shade and no car yet. i had heard that a new church record was out, but was just getting into them thru an older friend, who had heyday and blurred and was a music fanatic. over at his house i heard the 'a' side of the tape and it was just amazing ... "best record ever", i yelled.

john said there was only 1 left at stinkweeds (records) when he was there last. after a little of begging him to drive me there, i finally submitted to riding my bike about 2 miles in the aforementioned 110 heat, and there spent my last 7 $ or so on it, sped and sweated all the way home and played it endlessly.

p.s. the tape finally died about summer 1993 in my car after winding itself around the insert inside the cassette... i promptly unscrupously traded it in for 2 $ and bought a new copy.

Kathi Kwiatkowski
I was living in Athens, GA going to school at UGA and having a great time. It reminds me of a really together and fun time in my life - hectic but fun. It was a great reminder of a band I had come to love with "Electric Lash" ! Then the tour was fun - saw them 3 times on that one in Atlanta. And then I constantly had "Starfish" on tape in my portable tape player while I walked to and around campus - and sat by the pool all that summer.

Plus, it was always great to see a band I liked played on MTV.!!!!!!!!!

I was happy.

Robert Parker
Kind of funny.... a friend of mine worked in a cd store across from my school... so i was in there all the time.... of course i was always bugging them to carry anything by the church.... which wasn't much back then.... and then i came in one day and they were playing starfish... and the owner of the store was telling me he was playing it constantly because when ever he did, someone would come up to the counter, ask about it, then buy it!! to bad they didn't play the earlier ones!
Gary Guerrero
At that time I was 17, flipping through the channels and stopping on MTV. On there was Under the Milky Way, I was fascinated by the song, and something else that I can't explain. I could not wait to find out who this band was and at the end I found out it was the Church. I had to have that tape and got when I saved enough money. Through a friend I found out there were other albums, and my second album was BC, which I loved. From that point on I had to have the rest of the worlds greatest band tapes, and i did that. If not for Starfish, I probably would not have heard about the Church nor had the great memories that go with the album..

That is why Starfish is my favorite album, though I love them all.

Steve Bingham
All these posts about Starfish and the feelings associated with it certainly bring up memories for me. Everyone has their own stories to share and I might as well contribute mine.

I was a junior in high school at the time and living on St. Simons Island in Georgia. One of my best friends at the time, Tina Szelist, and I were always checking out new bands and sharing them with each other. I also remember reading Rolling Stone and any other musical magazine I could find and perusing the reviews for new bands to listen to. At the time I was into a lot of English and American music such as The Fall, Fetchin Bones, The Housemartins, The Pixies, The Godfathers, Robyn Hitchcock and so forth.

I was also dabbling in Aussie music and had found The Lime Spiders, Mental As Anything, Midnight Oil, The Go-Betweens, and Exploding White Mice. Tina told me one day about the Church and how Starfish was an excellent album. I had seen/heard Under the Milky Way and for some reason it just didn't connect with me. However, shortly after I was in a mall and Camelot Music was selling the cassette for $5.88. I decided to pick it up based on her recommendation. When I listened to it I had a magical experience. The album just connected...I have no other way of explaining it. When I heard Lost, A New Season, and Hotel Womb I was swept away. (Even now I wish the intro and outro to Hotel Womb were longer...) Needless to say I plunged into the deep, swirling seas of The Church and never looked back.

Certainly, I wasn't the first fan the band ever had. But I love them as if I were.

Oh gosh, me too. These are wonderful stories! I was 20 years old, in my junior year of college at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. (Had a dorm room with an ocean view no less!) I was jumping up and down the minute Starfish came into my life. Actually, I was heavily involved in the music industry (that being the career I wanted to get into a long, long time ago) and I was working as an intern at KROQ radio in Los Angeles, and MCA Records. I was also a DJ at our radio station and promotions manager and as such Arista had kindly sent me a copy of Starfish. Thus, as I stood in the on-air room of the radio station, opening the package, I could not help but jump for joy when I saw that beautiful cover. My co-workers thought I was nuts but I had been waiting eagerly for something from the boys ever since the heavenly Heyday. Ah, those were great times. *sigh*

Also, in March, I was on the guest list to see the Church at the Roxy in Hollywood but for some reason Mike Lembo cut the list and we never made it in. To this day I still think I have that little Lembo doll somewhere around here with pins sticking out of matter, I caught them that August at the Palladium and my life was changed forever...

Nostalgia is a great drug,


My friend and bandmate introduced me to the Church, while we were taking a break from jamming in his basement. We were playing Neil Young, Stones, Dylan and Dead songs for the most part. As we quenched our thirst with a couple of Rolling Rocks, he told me I had to listen to this new CD he got the other day by an Australian group. He told me who they were, but I wasn't expecting much because I had seen their video for UTMW and, frankly, it didn't grab me.

When the first notes of Destination came out if the speakers, I was drawn in immediately. By the time Hotel Womb faded away, I was hooked. Next day, I bought Starfish. The day after, Blurred Crusade. After that, I went out and got anything I could get my hands on. This is the album that made me a fan. Although it isn't my favorite Church album, I have a strong sentimental attachment to it.

All this talk, about an album release from a decade ago, makes me feel old; the fact that my oldest son celebrates his 11th birthday today makes me feel older!

By the way, his favorite song is Pharaoh.


Samantha Rose
I want to share with you my feelings about Starfish, but it will require admitting my age to you. So here goes. When it first came out I was only 12 years old! What do 12-year-olds know about music? So, I actually didn't get around to Starfish until I was about 17, which was only about 5 years ago. Young, aren't I? I don't like it, either, because when all the great music was coming out I was too young to know it. By the time I was old enough to appreciate and recognize new music, it was rap! Does anybody have an emoticon for barfing? I was so glad to hear some music that had class. Starfish is a wonderful recording. I really love the poem written inside.
Bob Schweitzer
Under The Milky Way is special to me in that it was the very first Church album that I obtained on compact disc. I had first heard The Church on a local college radio station (WRSU 88.3 FM, New Brunswick, New Jersey, Rutgers University) in 1985. I cannot recall which song that I had heard but I knew I loved it! I immediately went to the shops in search of any Church releases and got a copy of The Blurred Crusade on vinyl (a German import, no less). What a surprise, I was instantly hooked. I loved You Took, Almost With You and When you Were Mine plus the other tracks as well.

In late 1987 I got my first CD player, and the very next day, there was UTMW in the stores! I picked it up along with Seance. I started making cassette copies to listen to in the car. Wow what a group. I love those jingly minor-keyed guitar lines, and haunting vocals.

During the next few months I was able to obtain all the Arista USA releases of The Church and enjoyed them all. But nobody besides myself had ever heard of The Church!

During 1989 I would search any and all music stores for anything Church. There was no internet access back then and information about The Church was impossible to find. I would go to the stores and hope there would be something sitting in the bins. I did not even know that the band was Australian! I did find the UTMW/Musk 7" vinyl single in this way. Then in 1990 came a gold mine... Gold Afternoon Fix, Megalopolis and Russian Autumn Heart compact disc all at once! Talk about happiness. I listened to them constantly. GAF remains my second favorite Church album after P=A despite what has been said about the drumming. Something about it that I really like.

These days I still look forward to the next Church release about every other year. Let us hope the stream of fantastic music never dries up.

Eve Emshoff
Wow. When Starfish came out, I was just getting ready to graduate high school and was going to college in the fall. I remember Under the Milky Way blowing me away times ten... but I'll tell you, the town I grew up was more into Metallica than anything, and very few people were really into this kind of music. I can't recall where I heard the track now. Most likely the fuzzy college radio station I tuned in from some distance away.

So I went out and bought the album on this track alone, something I don't tend to do after being burned so many times. And honestly, I thought it was a real stinker, with the exception of UTMW of course. It was extremely smooth and polished, and that really bothered me... I wanted some more bite to it. I think I was 'into' some other music at the time, probably something as simple as the Cure or Joy Division. Where these bands can get blatantly 'goth' or 'punk', the Church was neither, and I couldn't quite put my finger on the 'sound'. So I really only listened to UTMW over and over... that was good pop, good melody, but I didn't really understand it yet.

And then I found Heyday in a cut-out bin in a Musicland. I bought it mostly for the cover, thinking I was getting into some trippy psychedelic thing...and you might say the pic of Marty coaxed me into it. So I put it on my turntable... yeah, albums, remember those flat round black things? From the very opening chords of Myrrh, I thought... wow, what a gem, I've really stumbled onto something fabulous here! It was really different from what I was listening to at the time. I went back to listening to Starfish, exploring it a bit further, and just had to go out and buy all the Church studio albums the next day. Every single one I could find, scraping up all the pennies I could. At that time, finding Remote Luxury and Seance on CD was not difficult. I recall being really bored with my current music choices, and the Church offered me something fresh and imaginative. And something to sink my Brain into.

Heyday was my very first CD ever. Starfish was second. That was the year I just had to buy a CD player.

I also remember that year I was introduced to at least one Church fan, and then when I went to college, meeting and becoming best friends with a Church fan. I can recall long nights of the lights out, just lying on the floor in his room and listening to the Church over and over while occassional drunken screams could be heard around the rest of the dorm. Ah, sweet bliss. (Not the drunken screams.)

I really think Starfish opened a lot of doors for the band, and certainly opened doors in my own life, as well as my eyes as to what music could be. That was certainly an eventful year for me.


Wallace French
Boy what a great thing to think about. It's hard to believe it has been 10 years or so since STARFISH. I was 18 and just graduated from high school and joined the Air Force. At the time I really thought HEYDAY changed my life. Anyway.... I'm a little tipsy right now so stick with me.

I got stationed at Travis Air Force Base which is about an hour from San Francisco. After partying all night at a club called LIPS UNDERGROUND almost every night of the week we would drive back to the base and crank STARFISH in the tape deck of my friend's Ford Galaxy 500. We were the shit. It was almost exactly enough time on I 80 from the bar to the base. Beautiful. "In my hotel womb...."

Sue C
Wow, you guys make me feel even older! When 'Starfish' came out I was in my late 20's already but it conjures memories of a time when I was travelling around Australia, just me, my man and our van and hearing 'Under The Milky Way' under the stars lying in a hammock in the far north of Qld. and being sooo happy to hear them back again.

It brings a smile to my face when youngsters say to me 'oh the Church, didn't they sing that song 'UTMW'? Pity most of 'em don't say 'yeah, they also sing that song "The Disillusionist'' or some of their *other* songs too.

Glen, who started the thread, commented...
..."I've created a monsta!" He did say that, didn't he? Oh well, little did I know this afternoon at work-- when I was bored and my printer was on the blitz and I kicked off this thread-- that it would spur so many memories. Hell, I just wanted to start one that didn't involve munching on sheep's heads (I'm still waiting for someone to tell me that was a joke). [Brian : The other big topic at the moment is the most disgusting food in different parts of the world: lutefisk anyone ?!]

Sentiment is a great thing, is it not? Keep 'em coming, folks, I'm really enjoying this. I'll admit, I'm a sporadic poster to the list, but it's so cool to see others who were equally affected by this band. I mean, think about it--we all associate this music with a certain period in our lives, a period in which many of us were a little less burdened by the responsibilities of life.That's something I've always done--associate music with the time in my life when I listened to it. I could go into "Gold Afternoon Fix," too, but I guess that's another thread. What I failed to mention in my last post about going to sleep to "Destination," etc., is that it was my favorite "sleeptime" music for YEARS after. Well, I'm looking forward to more "retro Church" memories and hoping that I'll post a "Bastard Universe (A Retrospective)" in 2008.

Glen (in Arkansas, where the grossest food we have in pork brains & gravy in a can)

1988 - what a great Church year that was!!! I first picked up the UTMW 12" a week or two before the album came out... It didn't grab me a lot... I had already been a fan for a few years, and knew that they usually rocked more than this. Where the heck were those guitar riffs???

And the B-side, Musk, was pretty tame too... I had not been impressed with the Heyday album either, and figured, well, they've seen their best days..

Got the album. Hmmm... same cover art as the 12"... How imaginative...Put the album on.... Where are the riffs??? Ok, UTMW is growing on me...Hmmm...this is different.... No, let's go back to "Seance"....I still played my selfmade "best of" tapes more than the album....

Trying to convince my co-workers who were 10 years younger and into the Cure, Peter Murphy and the likes.... I hated Murphy....

"Hey M, guess who's playing in San Francisco in a couple of weeks??? Murphy and the Church!!! And some dude called Tom Verlaine..." The most satisfying moment was taking the Murphy fans to buy tickets and asking the clerk which band was headlining... "It's the Church, strangely enough..." I had an out of body experience right there, just to see the grin on my own face.....

3 months later they played SF again, and I dragged 2 of my Norwegian buddies to the concert.... The fuckin' best Church concert and one of them was yawning and looking at his watch, the other one desperately trying to meet a SF hippie girl (yep, I know. I apologize...) But I ended up with 3 concert posters :-)

The best thing Starfish did for me at the time of the release was to see the exposure this awesome band finally got, and the fact that I managed to get my friends and my wife to go see them...

After a lot of listening the album of course grew tremendously and now belongs where it should be (every home should have at least one). But I really didn't get into Starfish until I started e-mailing mrg those early mornings in '91! Pre-internet, pre-seance.... Aaaah, those were the days.... :-)

-morten (wiping a tear)

"Mad" Louie
I was 38 years young when "STARFISH" was released. So do the math on ten more years and you know how ancient I am now!!

My fondest memory on the release of this particular album was going to a "listening party" at a local recording studio. Friends of mine who run an alternative record store got an invitation from Arista Records and knew I would burn the place to the ground if they hadn't let me know! This, if memory serves me correctly, was a couple of weeks before the actual "street date" for the album. I think I was at the studio before the Arista promo people were there. Needless to say, I was psyched and besides playing the album, they were showing the "UTMW" video. By the time I got done with the promo guys, I ended up with an advance cassette of the album, and the video too!!!

I ended up giving everyone there an education on THE CHURCH, as I was lucky to have been into them from the very beginning. I think I still have a promotion print-out they were giving to everyone and probably a poster or two. I must have listened to the album countless times that night, as they played it for three hours straight!!! At the time, I felt, yeah this is the album that is going to finally break them at radio!! Needless to say, I was pissed that they didn't have a follow-up "hit" off the album. My only other memory of note of that time was catching them live twice and finally getting to meet all of them. I remember having them sign a bunch of my rare artifacts and that PK went nuts when I produced the "MELODIE" single. He was running around showing it to everyone there--the band, the roadies, the tour manager, etc. It was quite a year--one that I will never forget. Hope some of you found these tales interesting from an old fossil like me. But I always feel that music is what keeps me young and is the soundtrack for my miserable existence here on the planet.

Robert Lurie
I am not exaggerating when I say that the release of Starfish was the most important event of my life. Sitting on the couch at my neighbor's place, alone, 14 years old, on Valentines day (night?) I saw the Under the Milky Way video and was hypnotized. It was part of some "Rock blocks" show on MTV, hosted by, of all people, Richard Lewis. Something happened when I saw that video; I had this epiphany and realized that what I wanted to be in life was a songwriter.

Another one of my most vivid memories is hearing the song on the radio only a week later as I was driving with my friend (who died a few years ago) under the clear night sky of northern Minnesota. It was the beginning of an exhilarating 10 years during which I honed my craft and had lots of high highs and low lows. Last year I finally released my first CD proper, and although I don't know how I'm going to pay this month's rent, I am EXACTLY where I want to be in my life. I'm not one to put anyone on a pedestal, but I owe my life in its present form to that one haunting tune.

Robert Lurie

Joseph Burns
Where was I when....?

I was a senior in high school. I remember it was a particularlarly dreary Michigan Winter morning and I was driving to school (in my incongrously sunshine yellow chevette) and UTMW came on the radio. I had a copy of the first Church album (the domestic release on Capitol) that I listened to occassionally, but they had yet to steal my heart as I was also busy listening to alot of U2, INXS, Simple Minds etc...anyway, UTMW entranced me. I pulled over to the side of the road to listen to the whole thing. After school I proceeded directly to the record store for my copy.

I remember sitting in my room listening to it over and over and grabbing the old beat up accoustic guitar in the corner trying ot figure out the chords... wishing I was a better guitar player, but something about the music just made having a guitar in my hands feel right (regardless of how well I could play it).

I was 13 when I first saw UTMW on MTV, and while I really liked the song and video, it wasn't until I caught the Reptile video that I knew this band was for me. (Ok, shallow and superficial confession: it was the sight of Steve looking so damn good that drew me in originally! I was 13 for god's sake!)

I went out and hunted down UTMW and Reptile on 45 (as I had NO money for the full album) and became a fan.... My biggest fight with my sister came about when she scratched my copy of GAF.

Much to my chagrin, I couldn't further the Church's cause among my friends. I had a hard enough time making them turn off Taylor Dane and New Kids on the Block when I entered the room. (They were nice people, but rather without taste.) This just made me an even more rabid fan... as rabid as only an early-teenager can be. I've been a fan since.

Denise replied to Sara:
Dear girl - no need for any adolesence-inspired apologies! I fell in love with Heyday simply because of that divine cover...when I was 19 I thought Steve looked good and now I'm pushing 31 I think he still looks great....although some of the years with facial hair were a bit scary at times.... ; )
Jen'ka's name and email address ( attracted Morten's attention...
Morten wrote:
>...but wait a minute here.... if I interpret Jen'ka's address correctly,
>she (and I hope I interpreted _that_ correctly) is from Russia!
>Jen'ka am I correct??? If so, I believe you are our first russian member,
>our own Russian Autumn Heart! Welcome, welcome, welcome! :-)

Right you are! Jen`ka (or Kave) is a russian girl, it`s me. BTW, "Russian Autumn Heart" is one of my favoured songs. "Church" albums, as far as I know, have NEVER been imported to Russia, and they`ve NEVER been released here!

Here is the short ;) story about "Church" in my life. I guess, you know about russian revolution (1917), about 70 years of lie and dictatorship, about "iron curtain" etc.? So, after that curtain was destroyed, russians could enjoy for the first time the foreign music. In 1989-1990 we could watch the "SuperChannel" videoclips, and one of them was "Under The Milky Way". I don`t remember what it was about, what was in that video (maybe, a city in the night? - I don`t remember), but these unique feelings provoked by "UTMW" remained in my memory forever. That`s what made me look for their albums for 7 years.

"Starfish" and "GAF" were my first albums, I bought them in september 97, and it was particularly magic time, because there were my first monthes of study in the Moscow University. I was walking alone on its alleys and parks with GAF in my Walkman, realizing that no-one else here knows why am I so happy. It was my own secret.

"Nostalgia is a great drug", Denise wrote. Yes, it is, although you are talking about period that was 10 years ago, and my impressions are still very fresh.

I had just turned 20 and it was in my second year at college, my first year at the University of New Mexico after transferring from the University of Southern California. I was living in a dormitory that was next door to the university radio station, KUNM. Not having access to cable, I didn't see the video for UTMW until sometime later that summer. KUNM fortunately played several tracks from the album from time to time.

I was already familiar with the Church, having been exposed to them as early as 1982 with the "Unguarded Moment" video. I was only a minor fan at the time, however. I think I only had the first album (the US debut with the "broken statue" cover) and Remote Luxury. I remember UTMW getting widespread airplay and thinking that they had finally struck gold in America. Good for them, I thought. I didn't waste anytime picking up the album (on vinyl) as well as a promo 12" of UTMW (B/W Musk) that included a mini poster of the album cover. Yes, I was still a big vinyl album buyer all the way up to its effective demise around 1989. (Okay, my budget prevented me from buying lots of CDs at this time!)

I was listening to one of the standard rock stations in Albuquerque and they had a program called "Smash or Trash", where they would play a new song and listeners would call in and declare whether the song was a ... well, you get the picture. Anyway, one night they played "Destination" and I was delighted that they picked this song, hoping with bated breath that listeners would like it. Unfortunately, the two listeners that called in were not swayed: "Dude, I think you should trash it." Too mellow for the rocker crowd. I know "Reptile" would have gone down better. I was disappointed but not surprised -- Albuquerque is not known for being a progressive town, and its musical inclinations lean towards rockers and rednecks, if you get my drift.

In any case, I can attribute Starfish to me becoming an official Church fan. This album gave me a renewed and dedicated interest in their music, which has not waned since. I finally went back and bought Heyday around this time, which has since become my favorite album, with P=A only slightly behind. I couldn't believe I waited so long to pick it up. I already had "Tantalized," "Myrhh" and "Tristesse" on tapes I had recorded from the radio over the past couple years. I still find it amazing that Denver area (where I grew up) radio stations (namely KBCO and KTCL) were playing selections like "Myrhh" and "Tristesse" and how fortunate I was to have progressive radio to listen to back then! Jim Kee of Seattle, I'm sure you'll agree with me there!

Paul Webb
When Starfish came out, I was in college in the US (University of Richmond, VA) but still went home to Australia for the summers. I picked up a vinyl copy of Starfish while I was there, but as I was mostly staying with my poor friends at the time, I had no turntable to listen to it with. That same summer I played in a basketball tournament in Singapore. A friend of mine had said I could have his old cd player (if an "old" cd player really existed in 1988), so while I was in Singapore, I figured it would be a great time to stock up on cheap cd's. So the first cd I ever bought was "Starfish" (my other buys on that trip were "Darklands" by the Jesus & Mary Chain and "The Lion & the Cobra" by Sinead O'Connor, if my memory serves). Arriving back in Australia, my friend had changed his mind about the cd player, so I was now stuck with a few cd's and nothing to listen to them with.

Well, the summer finally ended, and I went back to the US for the new school year, only to find that my vinyl copy of Starfish had barely survived the trip - there was a huge, unavoidable scratch in the middle of NSEW (I ended up always having to skip that song, which is probably the reason that the song never really did it for me). So I was stuck with a cd I couldn't play, and a scratched vinyl copy.

Fortunately, my roommate at the time was program director for the campus radio station, and whenever the station received promos and freebies, they were sent directly to him first. Of course it wasn't long before a brand new vinyl copy of Starfish found it's way to him, and I seized my chance and switched my scratched copy for the new one intended for the station. Free at last!

Later I did a show on the same station, and had access to the record library myself...which explains why a few of my Church rarities and promos have "Property of WDCE 90.1 FM" written all over them.......

John Micek
An old girlfriend gave me "Starfish" for my 18th birthday, and I took it with me for the weekend during a high school graduation party. A friend of mine had a lake house in a place called Otis, Mass. It was high up in the mountains, and it was a million miles from anywhere. It was the perfect place for a party.

One night, the six of us decided to drive to a movie theatre about an hour away. It was raining hard, and it was difficult to see. "Starfish" was the only tape I had with me that trip, and I was tired of listening to pop radio, so I popped it in my cassette deck. When "UTMW" came on, I turned the volume all the way up, and all I can remember is the thrum of Steve's bass during the verses. I kept hitting rewind, and listened to the song over and over again, all the way to the movie theatre. This, of course, drove the person with me totally bannanas, but I didn't care. There was something so perfect about the way the rhythms of the song seemed to match the splashing of rain against my windshield.

I'd been introduced to the band with the "Heyday" record, and was a kinda fan. But, it was with "Starfish" that the love affair really began. The album was also the soundtrack for the first semester of my freshman year of college. I was kinda bookish, and impossibly shy - given to wearing black turtlenecks and reading Oscar Wilde. It was a not-entirely happy time for me, and the album was a sanctuary for me. The songs seemed to speak to me in ways that no other band has ever done before or since.

I went to see them twice on tour with Tom Verlaine and Mitch Easter's Let's Active that year, and the shows blew my socks off. At a show in New Haven, Conn., Marty was wearing those little leather pants, and military jacket, and I remember him coming out for the encore shirtless, and it drove all the girly-girls in the audience to absolute distraction.

The funniest point in the evening came during the accoustic part of the set. The setlist, until that point, hadn't strayed much from "Starfish." I guess the band knew on which side their bread was being buttered that evening. Anyway, Marty strapped on the Takamine, and the crowd set in with a slow, rhthymic clapping. I guess they were all psyched up for "UTMW." Steve just stopped and said, "Why are you slow clapping us? Could you stop that please. It's really unnerving." Then, just to screw with them, the band played "Unsubstantiated," before going into "UTMW" and totally blowing the roof off the place. The next day, I went down to Cutler's Records, and bought "Art Attack","Earthed," and "Manchild and Myth." I had to eat Kraft dinner for a week after, but it didn't matter.

Paul Stockman
Funny...the Church to me was something new that I'd never even heard of until a friend of mine sent me a copy of Starfish in 1989. I was dating a girl at that time. We never played it that much, but...some of our most fondest memories were of going to a secluded but very well known valley in the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina called Cades Cove. There is a very small one-way paved road which winds about 5 miles throughout this cove. We made this trip to see that cove and when we reached it we put in Starfish...It was purely magical !!!...slowly winding around this natural paradise and experiencing a soundtrack that will forever remain some of my most fondest memories. There were deer that grazed in herds within sight of the drive and hawks flying about. It was a beautiful warm sunny clear blue sky and a picture perfect day. We were amazed that songs blended so well with what we were experiencing. Destination...Under the Milky Way...Lost...NSE&W...Spark...Antenna...Reptile...A New Season...Hotel Womb...

Every time we would play it we would be back at Cades Cove and very much in love...

reclining in a beanbag chair one night late in 1988, the early a.m.,....popcorn remnants and bottle caps littered the floor,...eyes wide shut,.... then,......the acoustic twelve string began it's "pied piper" (pun intended) strumming and the video for UNDER THE MILKY WAY melted into view,.... despite the eyeball egg yolks and the girl wandering downtown holding the picture frame,...the sound i heard entered my veins like a teflon-ed hypodermic invasion, infected my dreams that night and permeated my thoughts the next day. at the record store i asked for "some album by a band called 'Church'". STARFISH entered my playback mediums and within five days i owned the ENTIRE Church back catalog (all albums). at last, with emotional overtones and moods that i could feel reverberate in my bones,...... the echo of similar sentiments was DEAFENING. i was hooked,.. and still am. in fact, STARFISH was the force (or entity) that dropped the lowest rung of the ladder (to a higher musical/emotional plane) at my feet.... i am still climbing, and have tasted wonderful and delicious (musical) fruit during my ascent,... but STARFISH will always remain that magnificent seed....................


p.s. looking up and reading this,..i am tempted to delete the whole pile of schitte. but, since we are all "opening up" a bit on this subject,.... oh for Frith's sake,......!!


someone(paul) mentioned cades cove, north carolina. i visited that area with starfish quite often as well. i just remember getting the 12" when it came out and seeing the video the first night. i remember playing heyday and starfish the next day to my (now) wife. starfish is nothing but memories of being 18. kilbey breathing the breath of life into your body, if you will. driving the parkway thru the blue ridge and smoky mtns. completely magical, yes.

now let me wipe away that tear


Greg Witt
About a year before Starfish came out, my family moved from Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada) to Calgary (Alberta, Canada). I was a painfully introverted kid just about to start high school. As I suspected then and now know, I had none of the social skills necessary to successfully make the transition. As a result, I sank further into myself, developing what would years later be recognized as the first in a series of clinically depressive episodes.

I had never heard of the Church before Under the Milky Way, but it really struck a chord as did Starfish when I picked it up on cassette not long after hearing UTMW for the first time. The album and Waddy's production is often criticized on the list, and in the context of the band's previous releases (I suspect esp. the relatively warm sound of The Blurred Crusade) I can see why. The album has a cold, distant, brittle sound that may have alienated many long-time Church fans, but it perfectly fit my emotional state at the time. It just connected with me in a way and to a degree that no album had before.

Ten years later I'm still trying to escape the shadow of those years, but one of the few pleasures I've been able to count on has been the music of the Church.

Brian Hamill
Starfish is the first Church album I got to hear all the way through. The first Church song I heard was Disenchanted when I was about 15 or 16. I grew up in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere with no electricity, so my best friend was my little jambox. There was a radio show that came on Sunday nights that played music I could not have heard otherwise( Dead Kennedys, Robert Fripp, Echo & the Bunnymen, the Cure, etc.). Keep in mind this is tobacco growing/country music hearing/car-racing country.

I used to listen to the first few seconds of a song and decide whether to record it. I heard the beginning of Disenchanted and took a chance on it. I didn't record the DJ saying who it was, but I loved the guy's voice and that incredible tingly intro (which I still can't figure out on guitar).

A couple of years later Mom and I had moved to Winston-Salem (cigarette capitol of the world). I was a senior in high school, heard Milky Way and of course really liked it. Didn't really connect the song with the group name or Disenchanted, had no money to buy it, but remembered it. I later found out that the Church played that town,nearly within walking distance of where I was.

One guy I met saw them and said that Steve pissed him off by saying "I can't believe we're in Winston-Salem playing to a bunch of fucking rednecks." I think that story is hilarious, because I know what it's like. I couldn't believe I lived with a bunch of them.

Three years after that, I was perusing a friend's CD collection and saw Starfish. I asked her about it, and she said "Oh that? I just listen to that one song. "As good as that song was, I thought it was a sin not to listen to the others. I recorded it from her and listened to it a few times. It didn't really stick with me although I liked the beginning of Reptile. Eventually I realized this had to be the same group that did Disenchanted. I found Heyday on a trip to the big city and bought it. It's still one of my favorite albums.

I was 23 before I ever met another Church fan or got to see a Church video. They will always be close to me, because I sought them out myself and learned their language. Steve's singing style is honest and a direct extension of his speech. It's difficult for a band to become extremely popular without knocking the public over the head with the message or being flashy.They are a band with subtlety, and I think acquired tastes are the most satisfying ones. The Church meet the listener halfway. Their sounds stand up to more repeated listening than anything else. To me,their music keeps getting better.

Rich Delano
I was working as an assistant manager at a record store in the Boston area when the album came out. I had only heard "Under the Milky Way" and thought it was okay, but had no intention of seeking the album. As far as I knew at the time, it was the first Church song I had ever heard. When the album came out, for reasons still unknown to me, I bought it. I think I liked the cover or something :)

Well, I popped the tape in (yes, a cassette!) and when the first notes of "Destination" came on I was blown away. Needless to say I wore the tape out and when Arista reissued all the old albums, I scooped them up. (It was then I realized that I had heard a couple of songs before UTMW). Also, because I was working at a record store at the time, I was able to get a few goodies from Arista such as the Destination and Reptile promo 12", the Sum of the Parts EP, and a lovely coffee mug.

Granted my story isn't very thrilling, but dammit it's my story! :)


Trevor "Memory Man" Boyd
I remember it was a really cold day and it took me ages to get the ice off the windscreen off the car. When i got to work I was really pissed off cos I'd been sitting in traffic for ages. I had a tuna and mayonnaise sandwich for lunch - why is it with tuna and mayo that if they don't drain the water from the tuna properly then the mayo becomes too thin and then when you bite into it it kind of squeezes out through the gaps in the sandwich and either falls in your lap or on to the floor. I felt such a fool.

In the afternoon I remember having a bit of a stomach upset and I went to see the nurse who wondered whether it was something I had eaten - could have been the tuna I suppose. It was quite sunny that afternoon and I felt a lot better then. On the way home I stopped off at a grocers and bought (it seems such a long time ago now and it is difficult to remember) a bag of potatoes (the baking kind - you know they are bigger than the average potato); a pound of carrots (I love carrots - they help you see in the dark or at least that's what my mum used to say); some Mr Kipling almond fingers and a four pack of Cusson's Imperial Leather soaps. After that I stopped off at a record shop and bought Starfish. I really liked it.

Trevor Girld

Anne Ward
Starfish always conjures up a particularly optimistic phase in my life - its release coincided with my fulfilling a long, long held ambition to settle in Newmarket to pursue my *other*, non-Church-related, dream of a career with racehorses. When I listen to Starfish I can still remember that feeling of "it's all out there waiting to happen"...
My memory of a first listen to Starfish won't be as detailed as Trev's hilarious tuna sandwich experience! I bought it from Andy's in Bury St Edmunds, heart pounding, and 10 minutes later I got to my spacious rented room (in a shared house of course) I slapped it on my record player (It was 10 years ago! CD players were total luxuries then). I sat there thinking, this is a really dark album! then I heard Spark and nearly fell off my chair (wooo! just like the first album again), but Hotel Womb really struck me - I was off my rocker by then!!.....ok slight exaggeration!
First time I heard Starfish, I was in high school during the day, working in a morgue at night, and wishing like hell I had enough coordination in my left fingers to do MWP.... Hearing the lyrics " It's an exquisite corpse... " sometimes really messed with me, and Reptile was played loud enough to shake the guests out of their drawers. Looking back to this past summer, when I was laid up due to a car wreck, I spent my days and nights stoned, and (forgive the sacrilege ) remixing bits and pieces of Starfish..... Still among the finest examples of guitar finesse and simplicity. And live, oh well, Peter Koppes getting a roadie to toss him the trusty Ebow. Splendor has a sound, and flows through this band.
Pat Brickson
I purchased a cassette copy of Starfish along with a CD copy of "Songs from the Southside" by Bruce Hornsby on Thursday, May 5, 1988, at Budget Records and Tapes (now Budget Discs and Tapes) in Grand Forks, ND. I had just finished the spring semester of my freshman year of college and having had a tough year, thought I'd treat myself. I loved UTMW from the radio and had noticed that the album was selling well in Rolling Stone's "College Albums" list. I pondered buying a CD but didn't want to commit the extra $7 in case I didn't like it. Needless to say, I loved it! The album served as kind of a soundtrack to that summer for me. Driving in the dark with the windows down as "Destination" played. Ahhhh...

By the way, the evening after I bought the album, I picked up my girl-friend (now wife) and went to see "She's Having a Baby" with Kevin Bacon. God, I love that movie!

Brian Beckmann
I was twenty-six when Starfish was released, I didn't get into the band immediately though--I liked UTMY but it didn't spark me into purchasing the album. A drummer friend mentioned how good the album was he loaned it to me but I have to do 'saturation listening' to really begin to appreciate most music. He'd gone and purchased the Arista back-catalog and gave me a home-recorded tape of Remote Luxury and Blurred Crusade and I was mesmerized. The tape I had didn't even have the the song titles on it---just the the two album titiles! It was ages before I finally learned the names of the songs.

Shortly afterward I borrowed Starfish and Heyday from him and taped them. I listened to Starfish with a renewed vigor, the guitar tones and they're interwoven parts were fantastic (where have the tasteful guitar bands gone?) SK's vocals came across as passionate, yet subdued at the same time. Even now it has a fresh sound to me, sometimes I find it 'sterile', but that doesn't detract from my enjoyment. I was so dissappointed with the music scene at the time, and along comes this jewel.

I took the tapes with me to the Mid-east during the Gulf War and used them to keep my sanity (did everyone in Persia probably feel like I did ?...) , the starkness of the desert, free from many distractions (except war) was a great place to enjoy the band. Starfish is still going strong.

Vince Grant
When "Starfish" was released I was living in a three floor walk-up, two bedroom apartment with three other guys. The reason I was there was the Church. I had been introduced to the band a couple of years previously by an old neighbor who turned me on to the statue adorned album simply entitled, "The Church". My first Church album was a beautiful fold-out LP copy of the Blurred Crusade with the glorious black and white photos of the individual band members. I used to stare at those pictures for hours, playing BC over and over, dreaming of being in a band. It was all there: well-crafted, cerebral, yet heartfelt songs; chiming, ringing guitars; and drug infected lyrics.

Cut to the summer of '87. I see a young, unknown band in a rundown club on a Weds. night. I can't believe what I'm hearing and seeing. It's the American version of the Church. Their songs are like lost Church B-sides. The bass player is all Kilbey. Looks like him, plays like him - affects his singing style. The drummer has blond shoulder length hair and flowers painted on his drumkit. The guitar player has all the sounds: echo, chorus, delay which he milks from his Strat. I'm blown away. After the show I introduce myself and start "hanging" out with the band. We share the same taste in music: Echo & the Bunnymen, Wire Train, the Cure, the Beatles, etc. But mostly it is our passion for the Church which binds us. On Labor Day weekend, I fulfill a long held dream and buy my first guitar. In October, even though I can barely play and hardly sing, they ask me to move in with them and join the band.

Why? Hmmm...looking back on it I can see now that I was exactly what they needed at the time - an extrovert - all energy and enthusiasm. Probably because of this, I ended up taking over the lead singing chores after a couple of months, but I was also the missing link: a fourth member to complete the tribute and flesh out the sound on rhythm guitar.

Besides, I fit the bill. I was the consumate MWP wannabe: bi-level shoulder length haircut with bangs, large silver hoop earings, paisley shirts, tight jeans, black boots, and a motorcycle jacket to top off the ensemble. Sort of heartwarming when I think back on it. The innocent days of yesteryear.

We toured around the Midwest playing colleges and clubs. Endless roadtrips in our van. "Remote Luxury" was a favorite for all night drives and "Heyday" was at the top of our rotation. I remember a particularly memorable fall trip to Southern Illinois University and staying at the house of someone who worked at the student radio station. All the people who lived in the house were heavily into the Church and they had a promo poster from Heyday up with a picture of the band sitting in a row. After a lot of alcohol and drugs were consumed, one of the girls in the house cut all our hair to fit our particular favorite Church member. From then on we called her "Astrid".

So when "Starfish" came out all I can remember is that we were all psyched for another Church record, but only the bass player had enough money to buy the record. We were all idealistic young punks, so when UTMW started playing on MTV and commercial radio we felt like something had been taken from us. I seem to remember a time when we would only play side 2 of the album, which does appear to be quite ridiculous now, however, we did discover that if you immediately followed that with side 2 of Heyday it was quite a trip - and also quite a good soundtrack to our frequent "apartment vacations" as we referred to them. One vivid memory I do have is that a casual aquaintance of mine, a girl who was totally into the suburban heavy metal scene, told me she had just discovered her favorite "new" band, The Church. I couldn't believe it - her favorite band up 'til then was Iron Maiden! But she worked in a local record store and actually had Starfish on CD and a CD player. I brought all my old Church albums to her apartment and we would listen to the old stuff on vinyl and then the Starfish disc. She got completely into the boys. I even turned her into a Wire Train fanatic.

She eventually moved - and took all my albums with her. I'd give anything for my old copy of Blurred Crusade...

Cut to the fall of '88. Due to our irresponsible ways and immaturity the band is now history, but not after opening up for Richard Marx in Panama City, Florida on Spring Break. God did they hate us. We even had a gig supporting Otis Day and the Nights. Same deal. I think that tour broke our spirit. Anyway, I now needed gainful employment and I landed a gig in the mailroom at BMG. I ran the mailroom and was in charge of the promos. Close your eyes and envision mountains of Starfish posters, album flats, band photos, press kits and promotional items such as little desk notepads, coffee mugs, pencils, etc. Not to mention piles of CDs, cassettes, singles, cassingles and videos.

I was there when Arista re-released the back catalogue and I had every release on vinyl, cassette, and CD. I was giving copies of "Life Before Starfish" on CD to all my friends who were into the band. At the time Beggar's Banquet was distributed by BMG so I had access to all the Go-Between's stuff. There were countless stories and anecdotes about the band, like the time the Church came to the office and Marty was barefoot. Who would have thought all these things would be "rare" someday, "collectors items". It seemed as if the world would always be full of readily available Church product. They appeared to be headed the way of U2 and REM, an early eighties underground guitar band destined for superstardom and sell-out stadium tours. But alas, it never came to pass. I joined this list in the fall to hear that Marty had to auction his personal guitars. That hurt. And just last week I had to have Seance on CD sent to me from a kind hearted list member halfway across the country. Ten years, full circle.

Gary Dawson
Starfish is the most important album i have ever owned, simply put. This despite the fact that i now rarely listen to it. The songs themselves still mean something to me ( i love listening to acoustic, live and alternative versions of those songs) ; it's just that i played this album to death and now the production, mood or whatever has just become too familiar.

I was 14 when i bought the thing...after seeing the video for UTMW on MTV (Aust.) and taping it, i just fell in love with the song, playing it over and over. That chorus is so simple, but it really spoke to me, as a very impressionable and shy kid. It just seemed so out of place on MTV back then, slotted between Sabrina, Motley Crue, Icehouse and the rest. My tastes up until that point were so conservative that all i listened to were compilations of top 40 hits. However, when Starfish was released, i ventured into my local department store with a mate, and thought about what tapes i'd spend my pocket money on. Starfish and Terence Trent Darby were my selections. Needless to say, Terence didn't get much of a look in after a couple of plays of Starfish. At the time, i thought guitar bands were all long haired metal heads, but Starfish was different. It had lots of guitars, but the atmosphere that the band created was so different to anything else i'd heard before, and the band didn't look stupid. (Although PK to me at the time looked like a metal head, just look at him in the video for Reptile when he's jamming with Marty). SK's singing was also a factor. A cover story in Rolling Stone, with vague drug references about hash bars in Amsterdam just added to the mystery of this band.

From there, i found cassette copies of Heyday and hindsight, and was hooked. Not long after, i travelled to europe and found vinyl versions of the other albums, which hadn't yet been reissued in Australia. I found SK's "unearthed" in London on tape, and fell asleep to it's mystery every night for the next 6 weeks in the motels we stayed at. To a 14 year old, this album was like a strange dream that you could relive every night.

The first time I heard a song of THE CHURCH was in fall '88 on a local radio station "Rock 101". This song was UTMW, after some days I saw the video on the T.V. then my brother HUGO went to buy the vinyl of STARFISH in "El Chopo". For me, hearing the full album was like discovering that this band was a serious thing and the songs with the most impact were Destination and Hotel Womb. In that year i didn't understand very well English and i sang the songs of the record even though I didn't know what Steve, Marty, Peter and Richard tried to say, but for me the music showed all kind of experiences.

Also this was the beggining of a new era in my life - I was 12 years old and i started to listen to bands that my friends considered very exotic and unpopular, you know: Love and Rockets , Cocteau, Pixies, This Mortal Coil, Swams, Leonard Cohen, Belcanto,James,etc. Finally let me tell you that once in "WFM 96.9" they released a survey about the best altenative song of the 80's and UTMW was the number one between Love will tear... I melt with you...A forest... The killing moon...She's in parties... I don't know why i love you... Bizarre love triangle... etc. I hope that somebody here in Mexico shares the same [way] that I fell for STARFISH and THE CHURCH and their solo projects.

Daniel J. Mc Neill
Looking back "in hindsight"(pun unintended), I must elaborate upon just how significant Starfish was to me upon my hearing it. In 1988, I was 17 and very much involved with music, generally the kind largely deemed as '"popular". Music served as a defining soundtrack to the utmost of my every experience. I first encountered The Church via Starfish at that time and I will never forget it.

Fortune had me listening to a local "make it or break it" feature on a local Top 40 station. Incidentally, the song to be introduced was UTMW. After hearing the opening acoustic strings and haunting, eloquent melody, I was hooked. This WAS music. Unfortunately the rest of the listeners did not feel the same way having "broke" the song. It seemed so much at odds with what was "popular" at that point. However with myself, I was an avid convert instantly recognizing a vastly superior art form ripe with sophistication, texture, and atmosphere. UTMW opened up a portal to a higher plane of consciousness in some fashion...nothing less. I also had seen the accompanying video for the song and it immediately reaffirmed what I had initially perceived. The video seemingly depicted transient imagery shimmering and evocative set amidst a nocturnal city and strange grandeur seeking an expression. I was captivated.

I ordered "Starfish" from a record club and was not disappointed. The Church was undoubtedly and is very much to this day, my favorite musical entity. Some time later, I discovered that there were other people(though a minority it seemed)also bewitched with this great band. Several former girlfriends of mine also appreciated The Church(this did not hurt things!). As time elapsed, I made every endeavor to procure any and every recording from The Church; with much success. And to this day 10 years later, despite a number of enormous personal changes in my life since that time, The Church is one vestige that still remains with me. An enduring testimony to artistic greatness, this is what The Church mean to me. And Starfish, its harbinger.

Take a look at the Starfish page, or return to the main page.