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The Church Returning To New Zealand To Play Their Album 'Starfish' + Interview

The Church Returning To New Zealand To Play Their Album 'Starfish' + Interview

Thursday 5th July, 2018 8:31AM

Australian rock icons The Church are returning to New Zealand in December to play their classic 1988 album Starfish in its entirely alongside a selection of greatest hits at Auckland's Spark Arena, the same record that gave us the band's ubiquitous single 'Under The Milky Way'. The veteran four-piece kicked off in 1980 and have a staggering twenty five albums to their name, the live band features original members songwriter Steve Kilbey and multi-instumentalist Peter Koppes, alongside relative newbies drummer Tim Powles and guitarist Ian Haug (ex-Powderfinger). The group last visited us back in 2012 for an afternoon performance with Devo and Simple Minds, the forthcoming show promises to be a spectacular night time affair in keeping with the band's moody and romantic image. Kilbey spoke with us from his Sydney hometown about the 30th anniversary of Starfish, his thoughts around the timeless quality of The Church's music, and lots more - check out the event details and read his words below...

UPDATE 21/11/18: The Church's upcoming New Zealand show is being relocated to Auckland Town Hall...

An Evening With The Church
Tuesday 4th December - Auckland Town Hall, Auckland (all ages)

You released The Church's 25th studio album Man Woman Life Death Infinity last year, and your shows coming up celebrate the 30th anniversary of Starfish right?

I don't go "wow it's the anniversary of my album," and turn up with a bunch of flowers. Someone pointed it out to me and said "hey wouldn't it be a good idea to go around Australia and New Zealand, playing this album in its entirety," and that seems like a good idea to me. But it wasn't my idea nor is it a naturally occurring part of my thought processes, to want to celebrate things in this way... it's sort of a paradox. When the Sex Pistols go around celebrating the 40th anniversary of Never Mind The Bollocks, it's already contradicted itself. I'm aware of this contradiction. Still when I weigh it all up, performing Starfish in its entirety, after thirty years have gone past, is an okay idea.

What are you planning for the setlist for the shows?

I imagine that what we will do is do a two part show. We'll come on, we'll play Starfish in its entirety, and then we'll go off for ten minutes, and then we'll come back on and we'll play some older stuff and some newer stuff and some mid-period stuff. We've got an awful lot to draw on. It'll be a two-part show, Starfish will be the main course, and then the dessert will be another hour of other bits and pieces of The Church.

You kicked off the Church in 1980, and you're not the only original member still playing with the band...

Yeah Peter Koppes, who was actually playing in bands with me before The Church, he's still a member as well.

That's amazing. And Tim (Powles) has been playing in the band since the mid-nineties right?

Tim's been playing in the band since 1993 I think. And then there's Ian Haug from Powderfinger, he joined in 2013. Wow, he's already been in it for five years, that's incredible. We also have a guy called Jeffrey Cain from Alabama, who's our keyboards and guitar utility man. He's a short little guy and we call him our "little bit of everything."

What are your thoughts around why your music still sounds timeless in the 21st Century?

I think we're classicists. Say you're an artist and you can paint like Rembrandt or Leonardo Da Vinci... you paint things as you see them in a beautiful style, that can never go out of date. Being a classicist can't go out of date. If you can do a beautiful painting of a woman's face and put in a garden or whatever, that's not going to go out of date. So we're classicists, we're doing the oeuvre of rock 'n' roll - it's not dead, but as a medium it's no longer bursting, blasting, billowing forth with new ideas. It's sort of like a religion. We know what rock 'n' roll is, and all the people who do it conform to all the ideas within rock 'n' roll. Have long hair, play guitars through amplifiers, have a lead singer, use distortion and effects, sort of use keyboards.

In the golden era of rock, not rock 'n' roll I'm saying 'rock' now, I define that as beginning with the Beatles, Dylan and the Stones, '63 and '64, there was a golden age that I say lasted until about 1974. It takes in David Bowie and it takes in The Byrds and it takes in Marc Bolan, and it takes in Jimmy Hendrix and Cream and Lou Reed, a whole lot of other people. From '63 to '74, the golden age, from then on it seemed like after that nothing great happened.

The Church are classicists, who are forever mining that vein of those people I've said. Just like their music is timeless and doesn't go out of style, music that is rooted in those values and those aesthetics can't go out of style in rock 'n' roll. Neither is it truely innovative. It's a classic style, that's why it will always sound relatively fresh. It survives the 80s and the 90s because it wasn't based in the 80s or 90s, it was based in a golden era when everything was fresh and new.

You were last in New Zealand with The Church in 2012, playing with Devo and Simple Minds at Auckland's Villa Maria Estate. Do you have any memories of that visit?

Yeah, by the time we hit the stage the crowd were completely drunk on wine. Later on when Single Minds were playing I went out into the audience and I was shocked at how drunk the people were. Like really shocked. I've seen a lot of stuff, but I've rarely seen such a sloshed audience, on some warm afternoon guzzling down the plonk. They were completely out of it, I don't know what's going on. I thought Devo were okay, I thought Simple Minds were woeful. I don't know what we were like.

We were playing in the afternoon, which is not a good time for rock 'n' roll bands to play y'know... Nothing like the gig we're coming to do now, that will be something really special. We're a marijuana band, not a wine band. You're supposed to smoke dope when you're listening to The Church. We're also a nocturnal band. You should be smoking dope, it should be a dark night and we should be on stage at eleven o'clock. Not in front of a bunch of sunburnt yobbos drinking red wine at 4pm in a field. That's what I reckon, you need an appropriate setting.

What keeps the creative fires burning?

I just have an endless thirst for creation. I want to keep writing songs, I want to keep touring, I want to keep playing, I want to keep doing everything I do. I never want to stop and the creative flame burns on and on and on, like it always did. I keep going, even now I have albums waiting in the wings ready to come out. It's not like a work ethic, it's like something that's a compulsiveness. It used to be a lot worse, my hobby in the 80s was writing songs, that's how I'd spend my time. I'd go in my home studio and write songs all day and all night. There's another song, there's another song, there's another song. Just to see if I could exhaust the goose that laid the golden egg.


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Tue 4th Dec
Auckland Town Hall, Auckland

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