Fans of ARIA Hall of Fame inductees, The Church, will be given a rare treat on Thursday night when members Steve Kilbey, Tim Powles and Peter Koppes reform as The Refo:mation to play a one-off show in Sydney, to raise awareness of autism. The show has been put together on very short notice but the timing seemed to be perfect, as the band’s drummer, Tim Powles tells me. “It’s something we’ve been involved in helping with in small ways for a few years but we were looking for an appropriate time to do a show.” he explains, “We have a friend from America, who has an autistic daughter. Actually, she competed in the Special Olympics about three weeks ago in America. He announced a month ago that he would be here, for one night, in Sydney and it just seemed that it was the perfect time to coincide all these things together. It was short notice. You usually want about three months or so when putting on a show like this but we played the Opera House back in April with an orchestra and we thought that, while we were fresh, we’d have a go at getting this together.” This time, however, the band will be a three piece. “Marty is overseas in the U.K.” explains Tim, “so the three of us, Peter Koppes, Steve Kilbey and myself will be doing it with invited friends and doing it around Church songs but doing some special songs that are appropriate and inviting people who are specifically interested in the cause, people who are affected by autism and aspergers. We’ve got a lot of people around us, and in and around our families, who are affected.”
“We’ve chosen Aspect as the organization to donate to and the program that we’re particularly interested in is a program that’s concerned with assisting the siblings of autistic affected people. We wanted a program that wasn’t too huge, where we could contribute and have an affect. We’re all just experiencing what it is like to be around siblings of autistic effected people and we’ve been involved with Aspect before.”
The list of artists performing on the night is rather eclectic and includes Suzy Connolly (ex Butterfly 9) whose son is autistic. “She’ll sing a Church song or two and there’s a young fellow called Thom Moore who was in a band called Mercy Arms and is now out on his own. He is coming along to donate services and help cover the parts that we don’t have because Marty’s not here. And there’s Brendan Gallagher who was years ago in Karma County and is out on his own and doing his own thing and does all sorts of composing and work.” The list also includes Jack Housden, guitar player from The Whitlams, who is also a solo artist. And Steven Kilbey’s younger brother, Russell, who had a band in the eighties called the Crystal Set, doing a couple of Crystal Set songs. “They haven’t played any of those songs live for about twenty years or so,” Tim tells me, “Jamie Holt is the MC and Jamie’s brother is autistic. Jamie was in a band called The Camels that had a lot of Triple J attention about three or four years ago. So we have got a pretty eclectic cast and it’s growing. Ricky Maymi, who is an American friend of ours who plays in the Brian Jonestown Massacre, they’re a pretty large underground band, he’s going to do a few songs because he happens to be in the country and he has been in involved with The Church in the past. It was great timing.”
And, of course, there will be The Refo:mation, a one off ensemble that includes Steve, Tim and Peter. The Refo:mation was born in the late nineties when Marty was unavailable to join the rest of the band. “It’s sort of a play on words,” he explains, “and the songs have never been played live before. We’ve got half a day to throw together a Refo:mation set.”
Tim says that he isn’t sure how closely hardcore Church fans are watching this event. “I have no idea how many people know about it in Sydney. If anyone was interested in The Church history, musically, that record is actually a very good album and it’s regarded by some Church people, perhaps a little blasphemously, actually as a Church album and it can be quite high up on the list of favourites. And it’s stood the test of time. I had a listen to it three days ago when Steve and I were having a chat about what songs we should play and it actually sounds very fresh, like it could have been finished yesterday.”
There will also be a screening of a short film during intermission. The movie, ‘Rainman Goes to Rockwiz’ is a film by Russell Kilbey’s company, Empress Art Films. The film has played in film festivals across the U.S.A. and was recently awarded the Best Filmmaker Award at the Disability Superfest in Berkeley, California.
No pre-sale tickets will be available for the show. Instead, the band is recommending a donation at the door of around $60.
“This show will be fun but it is all about the awareness that we’ve been raising,” Tim points out. “It’s been interesting to see around us how many people are actually affected. It’s something that’s everywhere and I think that the degree of autism that is in everybody is so variable and, when it gets to the point where it can be diagnosed, well it’s debatable as to what that point is. In some ways, I think that we’ve all got a propensity to be there and the way that the world seems to be heading, the idea of being more inside oneself and retreating a little seems quite inviting.”
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2011. All rights reserved
Universe Within – Autism Awareness and Benefit Gig is at Red Rattler, 6 Faversham Street, Marrickville on Thursday, 23rd June. Doors open at 8pm. For further details, please go to our Touring page.
For more information on Autism spectrum disorders, visit: http://www.autismspectrum.org.au/
or call the Autism Information Line on 1800 069 978 or 02 8977 8377