Album News — November 26, 2013 at 8:05 am

The Church moves on without Marty Willson-Piper: ‘This step was not taken lightly’

The Church

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:

hey guys
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!






  1. I will say this: I love Marty as a guitar player, but he was a gigantic, royal douche to me in about 1991 when I was a journalist at a college paper and I *dared* to ask him a stupid question in an interview, and ever since then my general impression has been: the guy is a dick. I don’t blame Steve a single jot for doing this.

  2. Scott Stalcup

    No slight against Marty, but anyone with an ounce of talent can make a Rickenbacker jangle. No Steve Kilbey = No Church.

  3. Not the first time old Steve has rattled this saber… I don’t neccesarilu believe this is a permanent split. Despite the icy exterior, he’s passionate and emotional musician (not to mention pushy and a little domineering). So it’s no surprise that if there’s some ruffled feature with MWP that he wood make some heavy handed comments.

    The members if The Church have been on a musical journey together for over 30 years. Being in a band is like being married – relationships take turns… Let’s key the guys deal with their issue and wait and see what the music sounds like

  4. This is a great loss but Kilbey is the driving creative force. His last solo outing Painkiller was as good as any Church release so I’m not too stressed. Still a bit of a bummer though…

  5. So, essentially, Kilbey is, er, quite like King Crimson’s Robert Fripp, really. The Church is apparently an ideal rather than a line-up, and can carry on after he’s passed away. At least he’s honest about it all, and Ian from the Finger is, if anyone could be selected, a decent Aussie guitarist in his own right. Let’s hear whether the new album’s actually any good, though…

  6. Well it’s disappointing to say the least. The Church has certainly had it’s internal drama in the past, and after the last couple of albums I was hopeful that it was in the past. I agree with Joe’s comment, let’s wait & see.
    FWIW, I had the chance to meet & speak with MWP after one of the shows on the 30th Annv tour and he was great to chat with. Very personable and approachable.

  7. If Marty’s gone of his own volition, then so be it. He will be missed. I’ve stuck with them thru thick, thin, packed shows, some not-so-packed and countless solo projects (Steve is sometimes hard to keep up with in that regard). I’ve turned numerous people into long time fans. I’ve chatted with both MWP and Steve after shows – both have been nothing short of incredibly charming.
    Untitled #23 was amazing. All the recent tours have been some of their best – the 30th anniversary shows were some of my favorites…vocally Steve is light years better than in their “heyday” in the 80s(pull out some bootlegs and you’ll agree). They are at another creative peak. Losing a core member sucks, but I sure as hell am looking forward to 16 new Church tracks.

  8. I agree that The Church is Steven Kilbey’s band. It always has been and always will be. Marty is not on The Refo:mation record and that one is stellar. I always slightly preferred Koppes to Willson-Piper, the latter would often do these over the top, ridiculously wanky things live. However, the two on record are amazing. The Church will always be one of my favorite bands and I love almost everything that Kilbey has ever done. Almost all of their worst songs, and certainly the ones that make you cringe, are the ones that Koppes and Willson-Piper sing. Those two should have never been allowed to scribe lyrics, let alone sing on a record by The Church.

    The only thing about his post that I found absurd was his comment about The Church continuing after he will eventually ‘fall off his perch.’ What a joke. It is his band!

    • Marty is an amazing singer, songwriter and guitar player. Make your comments about the split however you like but don’t degrade Marty. His is extremely talented.

    • Like Scott I don’t like to see Marty underestimated as a songwriter, I love many of his solo songs and some he wrote for the Church.
      It’s the end of a long era and I will miss him in the band, always loved his guitar and how him and Peter would weave together perfectly. Also found him entertaining on stage. I met him a few times and found him easy to connect with, nice fellow, farewell troubadour.
      This said, I like the new album a lot, Ian seems to fit right in and brought a lot to the album from what I read, so welcome and long live the Church !

  9. Scott Stalcup

    “[The Church is] still beautiful, baby. No [Marty] [can’t] take that away.”

  10. Can’t say I agree that it won’t make a difference – group dynamic lis what made those records work. Otherwise it’s Kilbey solo, which is far spottier in quality than Church catalog IMO. That said, after some of Steve’s rants in the past few years I find myself wondering if he’s having some tough times coming to grips with the band’s place in 2013 and this is another flare-up. Sincerely hope not, & having worked with all in band except Ploog, I wish the best for all of them.

  11. Too many people with too many opinions.
    When The Church are in town and I go to their gigs with my girl we are transported to another world.We always assume a spot up the front standing in between Steve and Marty, usually closer to Marty…yep , actually in front of Marty.
    What special memories !
    For your part Marty, Thankyou from the bottom of my heart.

  12. Sad, really that it has come to this. Kilbey throwing another toddler tantrum, especially so soon after separation from his wife of more than a decade. I disagree that it is Kilbey’s band. The whole far exceeds the sum of the parts when it comes to the Church. Kilbey is undeniably talented, and in fact, his Isidore project is sublime and better than the bulk of his solo work, Unearthed and Painkiller notwithstanding. Let’s hope cooler heads prevail and MWP is able to rejoin to make it a true #24 collaborative.

  13. It’s tough to think of The Church without Marty. I’m one of the few people in the Universe who thinks “Sometime Anywhere” is one of the greatest progressive psychedelic albums ever recorded. That was the work of the super-genius, SK, and his very capable and singular band-mate (at that time), Mr. MW-P. Marty is not just a Rick jangler, as one underinformed contributor suggested. His absence will be noticed, I have no doubt. However, things do change and the world continues to turn. I look forward to a new Church album, as I honestly thought the band were done after Steve’s (justifiable) tirade against the music industry which occurred about a year ago. I am interested to hear these sixteen intercoursing great songs! If Steve likes ’em, I’m pretty sure I will, too. The only difference I beg in all that was said by SK is that I believe The Chrunch cannot and will not exist without SK. That would be like The Beatles going on without John Lennon. Ain’t gonna happen. SK has an ego, but he apparently is not aware of the fact that he is one of the great geniuses to ever compose and perform music. He is, in my estimation, “the world’s most interesting man”. LONG LIVE ROCK!

  14. I get the whole lost branding opportunity, but I would have given some serious consideration with calling the new project Re:Formation II. Regardless, if The Church was a truly group effort contracts would have been drawn up a long time ago saying as much. And if that was the case Kilbey’s band would have been toast back in 1990.

  15. So sad to hear that Marty will not be in the band- won’t b the same.

  16. Life’s moves on. or speeds up. The Church with MWP was fantastic, but life moves on. Nothing stays the same. With out Kilbey there is no Chruch. Their all creative, talented. Steve is Steve, an inspiration, song writer, mystic wit and ‘the man’.
    I’m glad there’s new Church album. I’ve been with them since 1981. It’s an essence, lets enjoy.

  17. Darth Kill Me (Kilbey)

    I don’t know what you people are talking about? MWP is an essential part of The Church, it’s simply not The Church without Marty! Simple. Plus Refomation sucked! I could not stand that album, it didn’t have any soul to it, definately di not sound like The church, besides this new Church album is Refomation2, how dare he use The Church name when Marty makes up 50% of the brand name! This is a really sad time for The Church. Don’t know why they are making another album, should quit at their heyday instead of spoiling the good eats any further. I really think Marty’s guitar, love for music, and voice brought a special ‘enchantment’ to the sound of The Church that can never really recover without him. It’s just a different beast now, so should be the name The New Beast, not The Church.

  18. Darth Kilbey

    …besides, the songs Reptile, Further Adventures of the Time Being, Fly Home and Chromium just speak for themselves! The Church wouldn’t be the church without MWP’s voice and those songs

  19. Darth Kilbey

    …some of the BEST songs arose from Marty’s craftmanship, Russian Autumn Heart is another that comes to mind! Steve Kilbey is a good artist, but a new Church album just won’t have the dynamic, plus Marty in my opinion was the BEST member of the church, so it’s over unfortunately, we will get another Refomation album…and if you listen to that Refomation alubm it just seems something is missing, it’s not a full album, MWP is missing sadly. Besides, whatever happened to Two Places at Once and that friendship? SK needs to grow up and quit whining. This all stems from SK thinking that MWP gave away the music for free because under MWP’s managment SK cried like a baby about secondmotion records stealing his money and thus is why MWP is out of the band. SK is a big cry baby

  20. CageyPea

    I’m a bit glum that the Church has lost an outright dimension — MW-P presented a different aspect of the band’s identity when he took the helm (as has/does Koppes, albeit less often). Personally I warmed up to MW-P moreso than PK, but that’s mainly because Sometime Anywhere so completely blew me away in its era (you are NOT alone in the Universe, Glen Douglas Sherman!!(q.v. above)), and “The Myths You Made” is one of my top like five tracks by the Church. However, the band’s persona is greater than any one member, and I’ll accept the forthcoming album with hope and a healthy skepticism. (I hope he returns for the next one, I admit!). (P.S.: an upshot is that SK may have to go back to playing bass full-time again; this is a good thing!)

  21. The Church is not The Church without Marty, but let’s see what happens with Ian Haug in the band. He has all my respect.

  22. John George Ringo & Bill

    OK let’s stop and imagine for a second that Paul was replaced by someone else in the band, would it still be The Beatles after the White Album or Let It Be Album? Also, SK’s solo acts suck compared to any Church material any day of the week! Plus, Refo:mation sucked too, could never get into that heep of junk. MWP would have made that album shine with his smooth voice and glittery guitar! I don’t understand why SK thinks PK is a better guitarist than MWP. HA Funny! Listen to MWP’s solo album Spirit Level vs. PK’s piece of junk solo albums. Go listen and judge for yourself and you’ll see the guitar hero clearly. With that said, The Church IS DEAD!

  23. John George Ringo Bill (No Paul)

    OK let’s stop and imagine for a second that Paul was replaced by someone else in the band, would it still be The Beatles after the White Album or Let It Be Album? Also, SK’s solo acts suck compared to any Church material any day of the week! Plus, Refo:mation sucked too, could never get into that heep of junk. MWP would have made that album shine with his smooth voice and glittery guitar! I don’t understand why SK thinks PK is a better guitarist than MWP. HA Funny! Listen to MWP’s solo album Spirit Level vs. PK’s piece of junk solo albums. Go listen and judge for yourself and you’ll see the guitar hero clearly. With that said, The Church IS DEAD!

  24. Johnny Cash

    The Church without NWP, is not The Church!!

  25. anyone who says shit like, anyone can make a Rickenbacker jangle, needs their head read
    p l e a s e … their decision is personal I respect their position but any one who feels the The Church will be better without Mwp knows nothing about Marty from the bands point of view I do understand Sk’s position as well if someone is unavailable well you still have to move on, but Mwp is in my opinion the Heart an soul of the band an yes it is undeniable that no one could replace Sk on vocals an yes his songwriting has always been loved by me but don’t ever think this band will ever be the same now that Mwp is gone if that is the real case at all here, I love Marty an everything he ever did an all he continues to do an that does not change one bit in or out of the Church his contributions will be missed I guarantee you that not all fans will like this I certainly Don’t flame me if you like but loyalty don’t change just because others have

  26. This sums it up!

    The Church without Master Marty is like The Beatles without Sir Paul!

  27. this stage in their career they could navigate any troubled
    waters, hope this is short lived. I met both MWP and Kilbey after a show in Toronto, Hologram of Baal tour and Marty was very friendly and egoless, even though a week earlier I returned a t-shirt that I had overpaid in some auction to sort out some financial issues he was having at the time.

    Steve was a wanker, just looking for drugs at the time. I should know better than to meet the musicians I respect and admire. It can only go down hill.

    Great band with or without MWP

  28. zengoth sayz: luv the church since the blurred crusade _ was at concert 2007 in krefeld germany _ s k is sooo right: further/deeper is xxcellentttt !!! _ ian haug plays terrific _ maybiii some ego-brainiacc is around _ who knows _ got in mind the waters – gilmour floyd-battle in the mid-80izz ( r w: this band is my band .. d g: u know i´m right ) _ luv all floyd-incarnations _ luv all church-incarnations 4 sureee !!! _ nothin last evaa that i´m sure ( roxy music same old scene 1980 ) _ & not 2 4get: thx & all the best 2 the unique m w-p !!! __ the church rules !!! _ subatomaric paraloadin vz brainpeeelin ____-:)

  29. No MWP no The Church. It’s a sum of the parts thing IMO. MWP is to big a part to loose. I hope the split is not due to another SK ego trip for that would be a very sad thing.

  30. Listen to anything Marty solo. Listen. Just listen. Play “Luscious Ghost” real Loud. Anyone with a brain who knows ANYTHING about music knows he is beyond an amazing artist. His songwriting, vocals, songwriting and guitar playing is above almost anyone in the field. He is one of the best guitar players of all time!!! Have you heard “Moat”? Come on. PLUS Marty has ALWAYS been so sweet and warm to me, so maybe if you didn’t like him … look in the mirror. So I hope selfishly that Marty rejoins The Church. But for the tiny few that have stupid things to say about Marty…Remember “it’s Steve’s Fucking Band” so he musta picked him.

  31. Marty is a musical genius. Listen to his solo work. Moat, noctorum, self titled. Just listen to it before opening typing something dopey about his abilities.

  32. Paul Glover

    The rotational drummers throne is one thing but the loss of MWP and now PC…. well….. No Church at this stage. That is just my humble opinion.

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