Legendary Australian alt-rock act The Church has begun work on its 21st album, but the band is proceeding without founding guitarist Marty Willson-Piper, frontman Steve Kilbey announced this week in a statement that first suggests Willson-Piper simply can’t make the sessions for the new record, then implies he’s out of the band for good.
In a post to The Church’s Facebook page, Kilbey reports that work on “16 new incredible songs” for the record — the band’s first since 2009’s Untitled 23 — has begun, and that Ian Haug of fellow Aussie act Powderfinger is filling in on both the album and the subsequent tour (the band stresses, in a separate post, that Haug is a “guest band member”).
“You’ll have to trust me,” Kilbey writes. “This step was not taken lightly.”
Kilbey begins the post, which can be read in full below, by saying Willson-Piper “was not available” to make the new record, suggesting he’s simply not working on the new material. Later, though, Kilbey certainly implies the guitarist is gone for good, writing:
“This is my fucking band after all and it has existed at times without Peter (Koppes) and in the beginning without Marty. And for times in between while he went AWOL. I love the guy. His musicianship is undeniably good. But it’s over now. The Church will have to move on without him or have no Church at all. Which one did you want?”
Kilbey closes by offering that he hopes that “when I fall off my perch that someone else jumps in and keeps it going.” He adds: “The Church will prevail. And our new music is very, very fucking cool.”
The announcement follows much speculation about The Church’s future over the past year, with Kilbey having threatened to quit the band himself in 2012. More recently, Kilbey has been writing music and performing with Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs.
As for Willson-Piper, it appears he has not yet addressed the split publicly. He recently launched a new project called MOAT with Swedish musician Niko Rohlcke and released an album last month.
Steve Kilbey’s post on The Church’s Facebook page:
this has been hard to broach and it has been hard to announce.
this is the simple truth.
marty was/is unavailable.
after having secured the funds to make a new church record, marty was not available to make it.
so i asked ian haug from powderfinger if he would like to play on this record and do the subsequent tour. he said yes.
we have begun the new album and let me reassure you it is magnificent. otherwise we wouldnt be doing it.
i will never say anything more about this subject. marty is not available. ian was. and i needed to make this album because we havent done anything for so long.
you’ll have to trust me. this step was not taken lightly.
ian is a brilliant guitarist who brings years of experience and a new fresh enthusiasm with him. this is no second rate deal. and nothing is chiselled in stone.
if you cant dig it i’m sorry. this is my fucking band after all and it has existed at times without peter and in the beginning without marty. and for times in between while he went AWOL.
i love the guy. his musicianship is undeniably good. but its over now . the church will have to move on without him or have no church at all. which one did you want?
i am sitting here right now with 16 new incredible songs that we just wrote. its frustrating that it will be a while till you hear it. but the church will ride on. and i hope that when i fall off my perch that someone else jumps in and keeps it going. this is what i was writing about the other day. the church is an ideal that produces a certain type of music. regardless of individuals.
the church will prevail. and our new music is very very fucking cool.
and thats it!
PREVIOUSLY ON SLICING UP EYEBALLS
- The Church’s Steve Kilbey, Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs double up in L.A. (Setlist, Video)
- The Church’s Steve Kilbey writing songs with Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs
- The Church plays ‘Starfish,’ ‘Priest=Aura,’ ‘Untitled #23’ on new live triple DVD set
- The Church to release Steve Kilbey-filmed documentary of ‘Gold Afternoon Fix’ tour
- Video: Steve Kilbey joins The Afghan Whigs to perform The Church’s ‘One Day’ in Sydney