The first time he performed under the moniker Rev Simpkins, Matthew Simpkins was just plain old Matthew Simpkins.

Now he's back in more ways than one because not only has Matthew recently returned to the town where his music really took off, he's come back as a priest.

To be precise the priest in charge of St Leonard's Church in Lexden.

For many Colchester gig-goers, Matthew will be well known as one quarter of the hugely popular retro rock outfit FuzzFace, who regularly sold out the Colchester Arts Centre.

Following stints teaching at the Colchester Institute, and further music projects including punky violin duo Sons of Joy with Dead Rat Orchestra's Daniel Merrill, and his solo project, Rev Simpkins, he decided to train as a priest.

Matthew was installed at St Leonard's at the end of last year and while his new post has taken up the majority of his time, he's managed to find a few spare moments to re-connect with his musical past.

"I never ceased being a musician when I became a priest," he smiles, "and I'd still like to use those gifts but up until now it's been difficult for me to do that. My schedule just hasn't allowed me time for gigs, let alone rehearsals for gigs.

"Now my job has changed unexpectedly, in that it's brought me and my family back to a place I deeply love with so many memories, many of those to do with making music."

The son and grandson of vicars, his uncle was a vicar as well, it was a while before he realised his true calling was also to go into the church, following jobs in theatre marketing, at the Mercury, and teaching, at the Colchester Institute.

As well as the church, music was always a big part of his growing up, studying music at Oxford and then joining one of the town's best loved bands.

That was FuzzFace, who with Ady Johnson, Toby Bull and Mark Turnbull, became one of the biggest draws in the area.

Ady, now based in London, still performs, most recently touring with Scott Matthews, but while Matthew has been busy with his new career, his passion for music has never waned.

He adds: "I've really had to force myself to find time for my music in recent years but moving here to Colchester has been a lovely bonus in so many different ways, one of which is the chance to get back out there and gig. A lot of people have asked me why I'm not making music anymore but actually I have always been, even when I was training.

"Music is an important part of who I am as a priest and I'm still singing the same old Rev Simpkins songs, as well as writing some new ones."

Next month Matthew will be playing a kind of homecoming gig at the Brewhouse, Queen Street, Colchester, on March 1, from 8pm.

"This will be the first gig with the band since I've been ordained," Matthew says. "I did a few concerts with Sons of Joy and a solo evening to help out a friend in Billericay but this one next month will be a proper gig, and I can't wait."