HALLELUJAH, BUBBA! - THE CHURCH
For The Church's Marty Willson-Piper, the Copenhagen Mermaid's head being hacked off says it all. "The vandals who did that are just destroying something beautiful. I don't know what the point is, I mean, what about the beautiful things? What about that Nick Lowe song 'So What's Wrong With Peace Love And Understanding' ? I've always thought that. Everyone always pukes but what's wrong with it, man? I'm into being in love. It's fantastic. You just know. Miracles can happen but we live in cynical times and if you don't go along with it, people mock you. But happiness is a state of mind, and when somebody walks into your life who you really like then that's just really fantastic and it can happen to anybody. You've just got to keep believing it will."
He and fellow Churchian Steve Kilbey are coming to play seven gigs around Ireland, but right now they're in a recording studio somewhere north of Stockholm. I can hear the Teletubbies playing in the background and reflect that these are dark times musically. "Forget about the dark times and look at the jewels," says Marty. "I'm talking about Robert Wyatt, who's constantly making great records. We all should be grateful, too, that a band like Radiohead are getting so much attention, because I think they're a really great band. Intelligent music, beautiful melodies, soft, hard, great lyrics, great singer." So you like Thom Yorke's angst? "Well, he's got angst and that's in his music. Seemingly, you've got to express angst these days otherwise people don't take you seriously which I think's a lot of crap, because you should be able to make any kind of music you want actually. No, the big thing about Thom Yorke is that he's just such a fantastic singer and his melodies are just brilliant. He really fucking gets the melody, a really great ear."
Down to more practical considerations; Steve and Marty tend to wander about the Globe separately, doing different projects. Marty vehemently denies any talk of a break-up but Steve is frank about the Church's current organisation. "Yeah, it has fallen apart to a certain extent because we got really disenchanted with the managers and the agencies and all that, so we haven't had a manager or an agent or an accountant or a lawyer and all that sort of stuff for a while. So it's all sort of gradually falling apart. It's theoretically possible to work without those sort of people, but no-one's put in the work to cover what they were supposed to be doing so it has fallen apart. The truth is we just got tired of having all that infrastructure, all those people relying on us, and I guess over the years one by one they've gone and so there's just The Church left. Consequently all our business affairs have run down to chaos."
When they do get together, the boys don't necessarily travel well everywhere. The last time Steve gave an interview, he ranted about what a dump Arizona and Las Vegas was. What's with that? "Every time we played in Phoenix, they've hated us. Steve and I played an acoustic gig there once and nobody showed up and the band played 2 or 3 times and when we get there it's kind of like a stage at one end of the room and a bar at the other and loads of people sitting in the corner just looking at you like you're from another planet. It's not that good, really. If you like desert it's nice, though. They're just not interested in cerebral music. Whenever we're there, it's pretty weird."
Ireland, natch, is a different story altogether. "I'm going to do the cliches, like drinking Guiness. Also our pal Frank from Cactus World News- you know him? - lives in Ireland. We'll hang out with him. He's the one who got us to come over to Ireland and play acoustic in the first place. We're coming back to Ireland for the pleasure of it. The thing about you guys is that they get you there to enjoy music and not to judge it. Steve and I playing acoustic is a funny little thing and I don't know whether it fits into the Irish head, especially in these smaller towns. I mean I've never been to Cork, Galway, Derry or Drock... Droch... how do you pronounce it?" Dro-ghe-da, "Yes, Drockida. There's something special about it over there, I don't know what it is. The Guinness I mean."