Between 1988 and 1990, The Church created melancholy alternative rock hits with “Under the Milky Way,” “Reptile” and “Metropolis.” Since then, the Australian dream-pop band has maintained an influential presence with consistently challenging work.
The group performs at Double Door on Friday, supporting its new album “Further/Deeper.” Although many will come for the chiming sound and atmospheric elegance of vintage singles like “Myrrh,” The Church’s core audience remains eager for fresh material. It’s a rarity for a band with 35 years of history. “We’re trying to do a good cross-selection so everybody feels included,” says frontman Steve Kilbey.
Moody sonics, psychedelic flourishes and heady lyrics have helped The Church to find its congregation among fans of bands as diverse as Pink Floyd and The Byrds. New song “Toy Head” draws upon surreal imagery similarly employed by Robyn Hitchcock. “I reckon that’s exactly where The Church should be in 2015,” says Kilbey of the song. “It’s got bite and attitude, and I like the ambiguity of it.”
“Vanishing Man” finds the singer battling everyday demons. “The devil has a look-in on the record, but he’s not a medieval, fire and brimstone devil,” says Kilbey.
“The devil is doubt,” sings Kilbey during “Miami,” identifying his oppressor specifically. “One day, I was about to do something and heard this voice in my mind saying, ‘You’re no good at that,’” says Kilbey. “When you’re preparing for something important that needs all of your resolve and strength, and you think, ‘You can’t do that,’ that’s the voice of the devil.”
The current tour represents America’s first chance to see The Church with guitarist Ian Haug, who joins masterful Church guitarist Peter Koppes, drummer Tim Powles and Kilbey following two decades with Australian rockers Powderfinger.
Although some outlets initially described Haug as a guest musician, Kilbey corrects the misconception and describes Haug’s rejuvenating presence. “As my mother used to say, in for a penny, in for a pound,” says Kilbey. “He’s all the way in. He’s amazing, and we’re lucky we got him. I think if Ian left, the other three guys would break down and weep.”
Sophisticated New York City-based pop band The Sharp Things will open the show. The group recently released “Adventurer’s Inn,” the third installment in its ambitious “The Dogs of Bushwick” series. “We’re returning to Chicago with our skeleton crew,” says frontman Perry Serpa. “I’ve loved The Church since the ’80s. We’re excited to play.”