Memories of The Church

Chris Gilbey

I remember when I first saw the band, before signing them to a recording agreement. They were rehearsing in a dreadful terrace house in Sydney (which has since been demolished) and which housed bands in each room. They had set up in the downstairs front room of the house which was tiny. Fortunately they had very little equipment or they wouldn't have been able to fit in the room at all. I remember saying to Marty Willson-Piper, "you should get a 12 string guitar - the parts you are playing would sound great on a 12 string" and saying to Peter Koppes, "you need a tape delay on your guitar".

Anyway I signed the band and bought Marty a 12 string and Peter an Echolette - which you could only get second hand even then because they had pretty much gone out of business after the sixties.

After we recorded the album, I realized that there wasn't a single and got the band together to tell them that we needed another song. I think it must have been within a day or so that Steve played me a sketch of "Unguarded Moment". It sounded promising and I told him to work it up with the band. Very soon after that we went in to record it. I had some misgivings about the guitar solo at the time, because I thought is was a bit out of character with the rest of the song, but the band convinced me otherwise and I think they were right, although it became an issue again when the album was released in the US and the US record company did an atrocious edit to get rid of the solo and take it to radio. When we recorded the song, I remember suggesting the anwering falsetto refrain to Steve and the band - which Nick, the drummer at the time, sang on the recording.

It is still my favourite Church track, and for me the best thing that I produced.

The making of the video for the track was another story. There was a director in Sydney at the time called Christopher French, who the people at EMI told me was sensational. They really wanted him to do the video. So we contracted him for the job. He did the most appalling video, that the band hated and refused to be associated with - and rightly so. EMI thought that the band were being precious and that I was allowing them too much freedom in supporting their stance. So I decided to go ahead and re-do the video myself.

My wife, who was doing publicity on the band at the time, got a friend of hers who ran a video post-production studio, to agree to shoot three videos in his garage using all his equipment at cost price. So we shot three tracks for $3,500. I went in to the edit and felt that it was going totally wrong again, and asked if we could try some special effects. The editor puched all the various effects buttons on the desk and one caught my eye. The producer, Phil, said to me, "No you can't use that one. That's a faulty module on the desk". I told him that I wanted that effect and then added step framing to it as well so that the whole effect was one of a jerky solarized piece of vision. Phil was concerned about letting me take it out of the building, because of the solarizing effect that was on the video. He thought he would get fired for letting something out of the building that was sub standard. Anwyay, the video got tremendous exposure and the record became a hit.

But that was not the end of the story. The video was sent to Capitol Records, the US label. Out of the blue I got a call from them asking me how I had gotten the effect on the video. I explained to them that it was a fault on the desk of the studio where it had been mixed and gave them the phone number. One week later, someone flew out from America to strip down the desk, identify the cause of the fault, and start manufacturing a module that could replicate it. It became a standard feature on vision mixing desks.

My thanks to Scot McPhie for finding Chris Gilbey and passing the story on to me, and, of course, to Chris Gilbey for sharing some of his memories. Hopefully there'll be more one day !
Return to the stories page