It's a rainy day in Byron Bay, Australia. At home, after sending the kids off to school and before the family dog's interrupting bark, Peter Koppes, guitarist for Australia's neo-psychedelic pop-rockers, the Church, snatches a few moments to chat about his second solo album, From the Well.
Although the Church is a democratic band, Koppes admits that democracy creates a fair amount of stress. Compromise is supposed to be a happy thing, and sometimes it is. But it's very satisfying not worrying about other people's views.
Having the sole vote has allowed him to do more singing, make his LP a family project (it features vocals about his wife and two young children) -- and break a Church commandment. With the Church we have a policy of using mainly guitars [in the studio]; that allows us to play the songs live without them suffering, because we dont have a keyboardist live. Much of From the Well is written on synthesizers and sequencers.
Koppes also brings to the lush melodies of his solo work his distinctive acoustic guitar. In the Wake, for example, blends familiar Church ingredients -- guitar, synthesizer and bells -- while rhythm guitar propels The Lost Peace through flowering keyboards.
Koppes, whose father was also a musician, has been playing guitar since he was fourteen. He left college to travel through Europe and Asia, earning money by playing in bars along the way. After he returned to Oz, he met Church lead singer Steve Kilbey in 1980. My band was rehearsing in the same hall that his band was rehearsing in and we got double-booked one day. Eventually they joined efforts, and very soon after that, has their first gig, their first recording contract and a hit single.
Between them, the four members of the Church have recorded seven solo albums, not to mention sundry other collaborative projects. But this doesn't mean the group is gradually splintering apart. In some bands, says the soft-spoken Koppes, People's egos take it as a threat if people do solo albums, and we're way beyond that. A lot more bands have broken up through not doing solo projects that from doing them