The Church Recount Their Turbulent History

The Church’s Keynote Interview spanned from their early Countdown videos to the absence of original members and the addition of former Powderfinger member Ian Haug. Their catchy hits Reptile, Under The Milky Way, Almost With You and a spade of other songs captivated an entire generation and their music is still heard on the radio today.

Steve Kilbey, the lead singer of The Church, knew when he was recommended to recruit Ian to replace Marty WIllson-Piper (former guitarist) that he was going to work out. Steve related it to reading the last pages of a novel before starting the book-he knew Ian was going to work out. Ian felt like he was stepping into another musical world when he began jamming with The Church, but Steve felt like he slipped in like he suited the role all along. Not everything has been easy for The Church, with frequent internal disputes and trying to record a hit not always working out. Steve recalled a memory from well over two decades ago when they were on tour with a major band.

“The Church were in Europe and the record label paid 30 000 pounds to tour with Duran Duran, but I left after 5 shows, so the rest of the band had to follow. You couldn’t get their audience, they were 11 year old girls who wouldn’t like jingle-jangle f**king hippies who play psych music.”

Steve is sick of interviews focusing on Under The Milky Way, and actually walked out of an interview because the interviewer wasn’t interested in talking about their new music. The consequence of abandoning the interview means that The Church has been banned from over 300 stations that were under that major station for not wanting to be pigeonholed into being ‘the band that wrote that one song’, which Steve found extremely frustrating, but slightly humorous.

The conversation turned to drugs, and Steve has always been open about his drug use, right from when he was a teenager.

“The religious experience of taking drugs was interesting. The band was always trying to find that ‘other thing’ and reproduce it musically. As every new drug came along, I wanted to encapsulate the feeling into sound. We used to go on stage after taking mushrooms or acid and smoking heaps of marijuana to explore the music.”

The Church had many adoring fans, but there was one particular fan that wanted to help the band, and this man was the marketing face of Levi and Pepsi.

“We ended up touring Europe around christmas, and a guy turned up and said drinks were all on him. The man was Kevin Lane Keller. He is an amazing guy, one of the leading branding professionals in America. He was our patron, and he funded a tour and our following record. He helped us out heaps and he is a nice guy.”

With the closing of The Church’s Keynote Interview, I could hear crowd excitedly chattering about The Church’s showcase of new material tonight at The Zoo as a part of the second night of Bigsound Live.

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