One of the most successful and enduring Australian bands of the post-punk era, the Church began their career with music that paid explicit homage to psychedelia and 1960s folk rock, and with the passage of time they refined their own unique sound, fusing pop, art rock, progressive rock, and other flavors. The Church were formed in Sydney, Australia in 1980 by Steve Kilbey (bass, vocals), Peter Koppes (guitar), and Nick Ward (drums). Kilbey, a former member of the Tactics, had previously played with Koppes in a glam rock band called Precious Little in the mid-'70s, but both were eager to do something different when they teamed up with Ward. Originally calling themselves Limosine, the new group solidified their approach while recording demos in Kilbey's home studio, and when guitarist Marty Willson-Piper joined the lineup, their signature style began to fall into place. Adopting the name the Church, the group began earning a reputation on Sydney's club circuit, and by the end of 1980 they had scored a record deal with EMI's re-activated Parlophone label. The debut album from the Church, 1981's Of Skins and Heart, became a commercial success in Australia after the single "The Unguarded Moment" hit the pop charts. Around the time of the album's release, the band parted ways with drummer Ward, and Richard Ploog became their new percussionist. The Church promptly went into the studio with Ploog to cut an EP, Too Fast for You, and material from the EP and Of Skins and Heart was compiled into an album simply called The Church that was released in the U.K. and the United States.
The founding members are Steve Kilbey on the lead vocals and bass guitar, and Peter Koppes with Marty Willson-Piper on guitars. Drummer Nick Ward played only on their debut album; the band's drummer for eight years (1982-1990) was Richard Ploog, who left the band after their sixth album Gold Afternoon Fix. Jay Dee Daugherty (ex-Patti Smith Band) played drums for the band from 1990-1994, after which he was replaced by Tim Powles who has remained with the band through the present. Koppes briefly left the band in 1982 and 1992, but returned to the fold each time. Willson-Piper left the band in 2013 and was replaced by Ian Haug (formerly of Powderfinger). Three of the members recorded material as "The Refo:mation" in 1997.
The Church's debut album, Of Skins and Heart (1981), delivered their first radio hit "The Unguarded Moment". They were signed to major labels in Australia, Europe and the United States. However, the US label was dissatisfied with their second album and dropped the band without releasing it. This put a dent in their international success, but they returned to the charts in 1988, with the album Starfish and the US Top 40 hit "Under the Milky Way". Subsequent commercial success proved elusive, however, and the band weathered several line-up changes in the early 1990s. On 27 October 2010, The Church were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in Sydney. The Church continue to record, releasing their 25th studio album in October 2014.
The Church is an Australian rock band formed in Canberra in 1980. Initially associated with New Wave and the neo-psychedelic sound of the mid 1980s, their music later became more reminiscent of "progressive rock," featuring long instrumental jams and complex guitar interplay.
A survey among readers of Melbourne newspaper The Age garnered 37,000 votes and the majority chose "Under the Milky Way" as the best Australian song of the last 21 years