The Church is celebrating its 30th anniversary with an acoustic tour featuring songs from throughout its career, and the Australian group's Steve Kilbey says he and his bandmates are proud and pleased to have gotten this far.
"I feel a bit like a very old man looking in the mirror saying, 'I'm still handsome -- but I'd rather be a young man,' " Kilbey tells Billboard.com with a laugh. "At least I can say we're still trying. We still have integrity. We're not on some kind of cabaret circuit going around in matching suits and playing on cruises. We're still a rock 'n' roll band.
"The Church is a funny band because we've sort of gone off the map," he continues. "There are no other bands like us, no bands from 30 years ago who sort of...they either got really famous on some mega level, like The Cure, or they cease to exist. But the Church as kind of kept going on the same level."
And, he adds, the Church's modest level of success has actually contributed to the band's longevity.
"Anybody can cop a bit of luxury," Kilbey explains, "but I think that kind of thing can put a lot of pressure on a band and a band breaks up because of that. We never really made a lot of money, so there was never a lot of greediness or arguments because of money. That kind of left us free to actually concentrate on the music."
The Church's show, dubbed An Intimate Space 30th Anniversary North American Tour 2010, features the group playing unplugged versions of a song from every album, in reverse chronological order and encompassing both rare tracks ("Ionian Blues" from 2005's "Backwards Two Beats") and the quartet's lone U.S. hit, 1988's "Under the Milky Way." All fans attending the shows are given a free EP featuring "Deadman's Hand" from the Church's latest album, 2009's "Untitled #23," as well as some songs recorded since then.
Kilbey says the group hasn't started working yet on its next album but is buoyed by the positive reception to "Untitled #23." "It got really good reviews," he notes, "so we're thinking very carefully before jumping in to make our next one. We're trying to compute all the data and try to figure out what people liked about it and try to take that into consideration when we start writing again." Meanwhile, the Church's current label, Second Motion Records, is working on getting some of the group's older titles back into print and is also planning to release a box set of Kilbey's solo material, titled "Monsters and Mirages," in May, with a bundle of his side projects planned for 2011.
The An Intimate Space tour wraps May 1 in Atlanta. Kilbey says the group is then talking about going out on an electric tour during which it will play "Untitled #23" and 1988's "Starfish" in their entireties.