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Steve gives a long and personal interview Print E-mail
Friday, 01 January 1988
Transcription by Michelle Andre
Introduction by Gin Populus

Intro:
As intricate as the flower-plumage of the bird of paradise lost so were 
this man's goals, ideals, morals, emotions, irritations, philosophies, 
priorities, contradictions, fascinations, hallucinations...a segment of 
his secret self swirling into a tidal wave too magnificent to contain in 
one afternoon's conversation.  And so, like a child with a kite struggling 
with an overpowering wind, I let go.  Not unlike the Bible's three wise 
men, we found ourselves following a sign in the sky, only in our case it 
wasn't a star but a marquee.  Not unlike the three wise men, we had 
reached our travel's end after a long, hot and tiresome journey, only in 
our case it wasn't to Nazareth but to Montreal.  Not unlike the three 
wise men, we wee full of anticipation for we had come to meet a man/child 
who would enlighten us through words and thoughts, only in our case he 
wasn't Jesus Christ but Steve Kilbey. Not unlike the three wise men, our 
gathering took place in a shadowland, still and serene with one voice 
speaking at a time, only in our case the meeting wasn't in a stable but 
in a Hotel room.  Unlike the three wise men, we carried no Gold, no 
Myrrh, no Frankincense, and more than wise I'd call ourselves lucky.
What follows are Steve Kilbey's reflections generated by a specific day's 
behavior, his mood and thought patterns directly affected by June 14th's 
characteristics which, so far, consisted mainly of humidity, hunger and 
exhaustion....

Steve begins.....

"Want to know about the old lady I kicked when I was helping her cross the 
road...the cats I used to strangle?"

Did you tatoo "I kill cats" on your arms?

SK: No, I tatooed "I kill arms" on cats!

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

SK: My parents told me I wanted to be a lawyer.  My father didn't because 
he didn't mind what I did but my mother told me I wanted to be a lawyer, 
but I always wanted to be a musician.  Ever since I was old enough to 
know that one day I'd eventually have to earn a living, say 9 or 10, I 
became aware that I wanted to be a musician.

Where does the inspiration come from?

SK:  Inspiration by its very definition means that you are unable to 
trace the source, I would have thought.  It's a bit like saying 'what 
does something invisible look like?'  Do you know what I mean?  If it's 
inspiration, you don't know where it comes from.

How do you feel when you're on stage and people shout out requests?

SK: I feel disappointed that we don't have a flexible enough arrangement 
so we can play requests, i would be nice if someone yelled out for a song 
and we could play it.

Like "Sisters."

SK: Like "Sisters," yeah! I love to play "Sisters," but it would be 
pretty disruptive if you just did that, the show wouldn't have any real 
focus because it would be kind of like random songs here and there, and 
they mightn't fit together, y'know?  The reason we do the same songs is 
because we have a road crew, the lights, the sound, the echoes, and the 
things are all set up.  If we start putting things in wherever we like, 
then they won't be ready for it, and Marty changes guitars all the time.  
So it's standard for that reason.  But also, we're not calculating on the 
same people coming to see us every night so it doesn't really matter.

Does it ever become boring?

SK: Sometimes it does, yeah.  I'm bored with about 1/2 the songs in the 
set.  I don't really like playing them.

At the Paradise in Boston, you came out and played the first song, and 
the crowd went crazy, and the first thing you said was "Where were you 
all the last time we played here?"

SK: Yeah, well the last time were were there, there was only about 200 
people in the club and suddenly they've all turned up.

Why do think that is?

SK: Because we've had sort of a hit record I suppose.

Do you think it's more the video or the record?  Do you think video does 
much for music?

SK: Video probably attracts people along.  I don't think THAT particular 
video magnetized people out of their homes because it's nothing 
different.  It's just people standing around playing guitars.

There's two versions of Under the Milky Way, one with all these people 
walking around....

SK: Yeah, that all got out of the second one, but none of that was 
anything to do with me because I don't like videos, it's just something I 
have to do and I do them.  See the thing with me is, I'm trying to 
de-emphasize myself and emphasize the music.  I don't want to be a 
character.  I don't want to be a performer.  I don't want to be a 
multi-media personality.  And I don't want to sort of see myself on TV 
and I don't want to do all those things, I just want to create music.  I 
think videos and all of that creates this thing where the emphasis is on 
YOU rather than on the MUSIC you're making, and I think that's wrong.

Would you be content in being in a band that only recorded, not played 
out live?  Maybe doing soundtracks?

SK: Yeah, in fact I'm eventually going to become that: just a faceless 
person that no one ever sees because I'm not very comfortable 
being...see, all I ever wanted to do was be a musician.  I slowly find 
myself being unwillingly thrust into doing all these other things I don't 
want to do, I won't go on MTV and I won't do TV interviews, I'm slowly 
cutting down so I won't be doing any interviews eventually.  I don't want 
to meet people, I just want to do my thing.

Is that backstage thing after the shows getting to be a drag?

SK: That really left a bad taste in my mouth the other night when someone 
stole my jacket.  There are a lot of people taking it too far and it's 
like this...see, I can understand if someone comes up and says: 'Look I 
really like your record, can you sign it for me?', that's cool, but then 
you get people who are sort of just being strange about it, like saying 
'I can't believe I'm in the same room as you!' I hate that! I can't 
believe people are so stupid that they elevate someone to this ridiculous 
position just because they play guitar or write songs.  It's just all out 
of proportions and I don't like it.

Well there are limits, people can respect and admire you but it's a human 
thing.

SK: Yeah, well I don't want people to respect and admire me...just sort of 
like the music I make.

But that's part of why we respect and admire you.

SK: Yeah, see that's the problem, you have got to differentiate the two.  
You can be an absolute bastard and make good music, and you can be a 
lovable character and make rotten music.

Let's say we respect your ability then.

SK: Ok, well that's fair enough, but I just hate all this...I hated the 
other night in New Haven, it was just like people were being really 
stupid about the whole thing.

After the show you mean?

SK: Yeah, everyone!  Like you do someone a favor and they just want more, 
and more, and more, and they don't even know what they want!  So I'm 
getting out of the whole...this side of it, I'm just going to play, if I 
have to tour, and I'm going to make records, and I'm not doing any of the 
other stuff.

But you're forced into that at this point.

SK: I am forced into it, yeah.  I was down in Atlanta and there was 
another group signed to Arista, who may or may not be a good group, I 
don't know.  They could be a wonderful group, but I was kind of coerced 
into having my picture taken with them.  I said 'Look, I don't want to 
have my picture taken with them, it means I'm condoning their music and I 
don't know what it's like.  It might be horrible.' Eventually it was 
like, "C'mon..."

So you're forced into this PR stuff.

SK:  Well, it's not sort of forced, it's not like they've got their hand 
behind my neck saying, "Do it!"  It's just that they're using sort of 
emotional blackmail to do it.

Such as...

SK: Well, they'll sort of say, "We've worked hard for you, you work hard 
for us?", kind of thing.

So, are you going to continue your writing?

SK: Of course!  Of course I am!

Some people have a philosophy on life, like do unto others as you would 
have them do unto you.  If you were to prescribe a philosophy what would 
it be?

SK: Do unto others FIRST before they get a chance to do it to you!

But don't you believe in 'what goes around, comes around'?

SK: Sure! I know it does.  Whatever you do comes back to you eventually.  
I know that from the good things I've done and the bad things I've done, 
they all come back!

But you would still say 'stick it to them before they stick it to you'?

SK: Eh?  No, I wouldn't say that.  I don't have a philosophy.  One day I 
would say that and the next day I wouldn't say anything.  I wish I had a 
philosophy I could stick to all the time.

I was going to ask you, how do you keep from taking yourself too 
seriously...but you don't...and you do...

SK: See, some people believe their own publicity, I don't.  I don't 
believe my own publicity because I created it and I don't believe it. 
(huh?) And deep down inside myself, well not even deep down, I'm just an 
ordinary aging Australian who happens to play bass guitar and happened to 
get lucky eventually after a long time of trying.  

Do you consider it luck or persistence?

SK:  Well, you know, one man's persistence is another man's luck.  I know 
people who are as talented, that sit in their garage in Sydney plugged 
into a little amplifier dreaming of the big time.  I was lucky enough 
that I just kind of kept stumbling along and kept going, and they didn't.

But you did a lot for a long time, you worked hard.

SK: Yeah, but it was for my own selfish ends that I was doing it.  I 
mean I wasn't doing it for the greater glory of Rock music.  I was doing 
it for the money and the fame and the rest that goes with it.

And all the things you don't want, now that you have them...

SK: WEll, that's the whole thing, isn't it?  You have to get them to find 
out you didn't want them.

So now what are you going to do with them?

SK: Well, I do want' the money....I do want the money actually!

We pay by the hour for interviews!

SK: (laughs) I wish!!

No, we've thrown dollar bills onstage.

SK: Yeah I wonder who's getting to keep them all?  I kept one yeah, which 
got stolen!  My lucky dollar bill!  And I imagine the roadies picked up 
the other dollars you threw the other nite and bought themselves 
hamburgers with it!
 
And now for part 2 where Steve comes clean, or at least
talks about it:


So now that you've toured, recorded, shot videos, put out solo projects, 
etc., what was the most difficult?

SK: Probably the hardest thing I've done was our press tour that we did 
earlier this year, which was like everyday in a different city all around 
the world.  It was getting up at 6:00, flying to the next place, doing 
thousands of interviews, trying to get to sleep, getting up at 6:00 and 
flying on to the next place, it was very traumatic.  That was in 
February, March, April...I can't remember!

What was the most gratifying?

SK: I don't think any of these experiences are gratifying.

Not even your solo things?

SK: Well, the gratifying thing...well, what do you mean?  When they 
actually come out, or the reviews I read, or...?

No, just what YOU'RE most happy with when you're alone and think about it.

SK: Well, I'm not happy with any of it!

You must be happy to an extent, at least to the point where you'd say 
'this is what I'd do different, or this is something I won't do again.'

SK: I don't know.  Once I've done it I sort of leave it alone and don't 
think about it.  It's like it goes on its own way.

But you're doing what you say you've always wanted to do and you're not 
getting anything from it?

SK: Well, I'm starting to get some money out of it.

But you did say the music...

SK: Well, I enjoy writing music and I enjoy making albums most of the 
time.  But sort of right now, after playing every night for so long, I'm 
starting to hate music.  and that's a problem because the only thing in 
my life that I've consistently loved is music.  and now I'm in a position 
where I'm beginning to hate the thing that I loved.  

Just your music, or music in general?

SK: Well, I can't listen to anybody else's, well, in the bus we listen to 
music, we get stoned and listen to music, but even then I sit there and 
I'm listening to it and I'm going 'hmmm, they should have used more 
reverb on that snare drum, and...

It's like taking a film class, you can't go see a....

SK: .....film, because you're looking at the angles and how did they 
record that?  when a writer reads somebody else's book he's looking at 
all the techniques that that writer's used, 'now that's and interesting 
simile, that's a unique paragraph' instead of reading and enjoying it!  
It's like when you do videos.  When I watch videos now it's so 
ridiculous, because you know there's a guy there...y'know, most people 
see Bon Jovi standing there singing at the camera and they imagine, 
somehow, that he's singing to them, and I know that he's standing there 
with 9,000 people around him and a makeup girl running up putting powder 
on his nose and a wind machine..y'know?

Did they do the same to you with your videos?

SK: Yeah, well you know I just turn up and say 'what are we doing? Give 
me my guitar.' I'll stand there and mime and then I'll go home and hope 
for the best.

And they didn't push you beyond that?

SK: No!

So you keep a lot of control in what you do.

SK: Well no, it's sort of an anti-control.  It's not control so much as 
they know we're difficult, if they push us too far we'll sulk and run 
off.  So now when we do videos they sort of leave us alone.

But in that sense it counteracts as control because they know how not to 
treat you.

SK: I guess so.  Well, it's only the sort of control a sulky little boy 
has at his own birthday party.

If someone was to make a movie of your life, who would you want to play you?

SK: To play me?  I don't think anyone would want to play me.  Who do you 
think would be good?  Clint?  I'm starting to look like him, aren't I?

How about a young Cary Grant?  He's a straight man with an underlying 
sense of humor.  How about Prince?

SK: (general laughter) Prince?  I wish!!

Sting!!

SK: (puts on the calypso accent and sings...)'...you don't have to put on 
da red light, doze deize are ober, you don't have to sell your body to de 
night.'

It's funny how some artists do that, completely leave their native accent 
behind and pull off something completely different.  So many artists 
adopt an American accent when they sing, but when they're speaking, you 
can't understand a word they're saying!

SK: It's like the Beatles isn't it?

Well, no they left a flavor of their accents in what they did.

SK: I remember seeing the Beatles' concert and they said 'This one's 
called (puts on a Liverpool accent, SHE LOOOOOVES YEW'! and then it's 
'she loves you', well, I don't have an accent because I'm half Australian 
and half English, so I don't have an identifiable accent, I can bend it 
whichever way I like and still justify it.  Sing like David Bowie and 
still claim I'm Australian.  

If you feel so despondent right now...

SK: Right NOW, that's the key word.  See, that's the problem with 
interviews.  With my interviews the problem is, I'm honest enough to say 
what I feel at the time.  sometimes people catch me in an incredibly 
elated mood and I'll be saying the Church is great and we're going to go 
on forever.  And right now you've caught me at the tail end of a bad day, 
and I'm feeling really bad, and I'm saying all this stuff...but I don't...

So you'll change your mind tomorrow.

SK: Well doesn't everyone?  That's the thing with an interview.  See, I 
could just say to you...I could just be your friend and say I feel really 
bad and you'd understand and tomorrow I could say I feel really good.  
But when it actually goes in print people say 'he's a depressed fucking 
idiot!'

Well, then I'm glad you just said that.

SK: Is that it?  Where are the personal questions?

Are you married, promised, engaged?

SK: I got married very young and it didn't work out.  so now I'm divorced.

Would you get married again?

SK: No!  I would never EVER get married again!

Gin: Hey Steve, marry me.

SK: All right!  No, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

How old were you when you got married?

SK: Twenty-two.

Maybe it was because you felt pressured to get married.

SK:  It was!  Like the girl I got married to, I'm sure she didn't want to 
get married, it was like, all her life someone had been saying 'you 
should get married...you should get married...' and eventually the first 
eligible, sort of vaguely all right idiot that came walking along, she 
latched on to, and it was like, 'we're going out together-ok, steady, 
well, people in Australia don't say that, but the equivalent, and then it 
was like, let's move in together, and it's like me going 'all right.'  
Let's get engaged, 'allright.'  Let's get married, 'all right'.  So 
before I knew it, it was like '...this is not my beautiful house, this is 
not my beautiful wife...!'

My god, what have I done?!

SK: And she was beautiful!  Anyway she divorced me, took the proceeds of 
my first royalty check for "Unguarded Moment" and all the money I made 
off of that, and now she's one of the most successful fashion designers 
in Australia.  But that's all right, good luck to her.  Now we hardly see 
each other, but when we do we're extremely good friends, there's no real 
bad feelings.

But you don't recommend marriage.

SK: I don't recommend marriage.  I don't think people are naturally 
monogomous and I think marriage tries to reinforce that.

The romance wears off too quickly.

SK: It's funny because you do see people who have been married for fifty 
years, and they still love each other, but I can't envision that 
happening to me because I'm sort of...

But that was fifty years ago and they were brought up in a different time 
and think differently about marriage.

SK: Yeah!

then there's the secrets, you find out your parents have been married for 
50 years but the really can't stand each other, they've stayed together 
for the sake of the kids.

SK: It's like you're going to die and someone is going to give you a 
medal!  you hear people say 'let's stay together for the sake of your 
marriage' and so it's as if there are 3 of you in bed: you, her, and the 
marriage!  Like 'we don't like each other, but we don't want the marriage 
to find out!'  so don't get married!  then one day your Prince Charming 
will come along and you will disregard this advice!

Well, sometimes I just wonder...

SK: Wonder what?  what's the stigma?  That's another thing society has 
forced on women, that men if you're a bachelor, like I can be unmarried 
until I'm 50 and people will say 'Steve Kilbey, he's an eligible 
bachelor.' If YOU don't get married, people say...

'...old maid!'

SK: Exactly! Exactly!  so you've got to fight that whole fucking thing!

****************************************************
We're women who like music so we're groupies right?

SK:  Groupies are like Yuppies and Hippies, you'll never meet anyone who 
will admit to being one! You can go up to a guy with long hair, a beard, 
who's dropping acid, who's favorite band is the Grateful Dead, who lives 
in a wigwam in the middle of the bush, and you'll say 'you're a hippie,' 
and he'll say 'no, I'm not!', and you'll get a girl that's sort of rooted 
every major group in the world and you'll say 'you're a groupie,' and 
she'll say 'no, I'm not!' because no one will ever admit to that! A 
groupie is just a girl who foolishly wants to take that step, one step 
further, she sort of wants a private performance!

There's still that male-female paradox.

SK: Yeah, that's why you shouldn't get married, to fight that whole thing 
of thinking just because you're 25 you should get married, you should not 
do it just for that reason.

I don't think anyone could put up with me anyway.

SK: But you don't want to be put up with, do you?  I don't want to be 
married to someone who's putting up with me, you know what I mean?  I'd 
hate to think that, 'Oh at least she's putting up with me,' I don't want 
that, I'd rather...it IS a real dilemma, isn't it?

It's important to have good friends.  What one relationship can take the 
place of everything life has to offer?  marriage can't be that great!

SK: Oh well, I won't ask you then.

Michelle: Ask me what?

SK: If you'll marry me.

No, I won't!

SK: Alright.

Are you joking?  Marry a musician?  Stay away from musicians, we go for 
the music, but we stay away from musicians!

Good idea!  Stay away from the road crew is the second rule! (laughter)

How do you think your spirits will be for tonight's show?

SK: I've come to several critical points in my life y'know?  I have to 
make some decisions, and either way I'm going to jump it's going to be 
bad.  I have to stop smoking dope.  I have to.  I have to just stop, i 
can't keep it up.  On the other hand, it's my only thing I really like 
doing.  But I have to stop because I'm coughing up blood, I'm feeling bad 
everyday.  I woke up this morning and said 'I'm not going to smoke anymore!'

And you did already?

SK: No, I haven't but as it's getting closer and closer to the gig, I'm 
thinking DOPE!  And everyone's coming up to me going 'Steve we've got 
some dope!' and the bus driver's going 'look what I've got' and it's 
dope, dope, dope, dope, dope!  And the whole world, me and my little pals 
on the bus, our whole world revolves around smoking grass!

And they said it wasn't addictive.

SK: yeah, I knew it was, and I knew that one day I'd have to give it up, 
but now that day has...well that day's come about 3 years ago, and now I 
have to stop because it's absolutely ruining me!

Can you do it?

SK: I don't think I can.  I haven't been able so far!

Can't you find another?

SK: Drinking!  But that's like getting out of the fire and into the 
frying pan!  so that's an imminent looming, problem!  And that's one of 
the decisions!

What else?

SK: Oh, some really private ones I don't want to talk about, y'know, 
should I henna my hair auburn or chestnut?

Are you a musician or an artist?

SK: I'm a musician.  No one calls themselves artists.  It's like being a 
poet.  You let other people call you an artist or an artiste.

Would you like to be called an artist?

SK: No.  I'm not.

But you said YOU don't call yourself that.

SK: That's right, but I'm not one anyway!  Other people can call me that 
and they'd be wrong.  I would never call myself that.  I'm not an artist, 
I just stand there, and play guitar, and sing.  What's so artistic about 
that?

But you write as well.

SK: Yeah, but that's being a writer.

Well there's the scoop, this has been very provocative and interesting!

SK: Was it?  Was it really?  I didn't say anything that people really 
want to read about me.

We're NOT going to pry or get too personal!

SK: I'm interested in what you think is prying!

I think people want to read about you and how you function around your 
music.  Why would people want to know the "National Enquirer" version of 
Steve Kilbey?

SK: I think they do!  I think they want to know what my vices are and who 
I'm having sex with.

We already know what your vices are, so who are you having sex with?

SK: I can't say! (laughs) No, no one at the moment!

Has the AIDS issue changed your lifestyles?

SK: Some people don't seem to have changed at all, and some have.

Does it frighten you?

SK: Umm, yeah, of course!  I mean fucking...who wants to get AIDS?  But 
I'm just as frightened of getting cancer, I'm just as frightened of dying 
in a car crash.  Any form of death frightens me!  AIDS would be a 
particularly nasty way to go, I imagine.  But since I'm not homosexual, I 
don't use intravenous drugs, I haven't had a blood transfusion, or been 
to Haiti, and I'm not a hemophiliac, I would imagine I'm relatively in a 
low risk group, but I don't know.  I might have it now, you might have it 
just by sitting here talking to me.  Have you had a blood test?  You 
might have it.  Why haven't you had a blood test?  You don't want to 
find out!

It is changing people!

SK: I don't think it's changing them very much! I think a lot of them are 
thinking heterosexuals don't get it and doing what the've always done.  
Perhaps they wear rubbers.

(a semi-serious moment of silence wraps around the room...)

SK: So, I guess that's it then!

Yes Steve, you're off the hook!
=======
Transcribed and posted to Seance by Rhonda Corcoran
The following interview is from a little zine called From Ears and Mouth.
I don't think it's around anymore.  I happened to pick it up from
someone in Goldmine.  Anyway, if anyone on this list is anyway connected
with that publication, please don't sue and anyway shame on you for
not typing it in before me.  Without further ado ( or permission), here's
an interesting look at the Kilbster:
Most Read
 
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