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What I've Learnt, by Steve Kilbey Print E-mail
Saturday, 11 January 2003
from the Melbourne Age 01/11/2003. Found on the Violet Town interview page - thanks :)

What I've Learnt -- Steve Kilbey

Christ said love your neighbour as you love yourself. It was the most important commandment as far as he was concerned. I know hearing all you need is love is very simplistic and cliche but to love and be nice is what it's all about.

I have been teaching at some song writing courses here in Sydney and a lot of the people in the class always say they don't know what to write about. That was never a problem for me. I always knew what I wanted to write about. I wasn't always good at it, sometimes I was very clumsy, but I knew what the subject matter would be - the surrealists demanded something that I also demand from life. I feel I am always going for the marvellous like they were.

I was born in England but my parents migrated to Australia when I was three and I grew up in Wollongong for a while. Then we moved to the country in Victoria and I relocated to Canberra at the age of 11. I would say Wollongong and the year in Victoria were big formative moments for me. I figured a lot of things out as far as what I wanted to do. I went to high school and did all right, but at 16 I got a bass and started playing and joining local groups and then we formed the Church and that was it. There was no looking back.

As soon as Beatle boots came out I was obsessed. My whole assessment of you would be based onto what kind of boots you had. There was this kid at school that had suede Beatle boots, they were almost black but were blue. They had these chiselled toes and to me this guy was a man of impeccable taste. I didn't have to know anything about him. I have a large collection of boots and a friend of mine once said, when you walk into my room your head just goes down to the boots. I also once said never trust a man with brown shoes, and I have since found that to be quite true, excluding brown suede Beatle boots, of course.

I used to drive a Triumph Herald. When I was 15, two years before I could get a license, I would joy ride it around the back streets of Canberra. It was the sort of thing you did when you were 15. My mum, who was a very wise and alert woman, had no idea that I was taking the car. She may have just turned a blind eye. Meanwhile, we were hooning around after school in broad daylight. You would be horrified if you say a kid at 15 do that without a license now, but I used to do it and got away with it.

I was playing a gig in 1976 and I saw our neighbour in the audience. He was a German guy who was a friend of my dad's and i thought, this is bad seeing this guy here. I bet something has happened to my father. When the band had a break during our set I went over to the guy and he said, yes, your father is dead. It was a terrible moment. I mean obviously. I mean it's nothing new, but from when I was a small kid I always would think about what it would be like when my dad would die and how it was going to feel. He died of a heart attack, he had angina and died out of the blue. That was tough for me, but anybody who is bereaved like that suffers much the same. You can't find words for it. It's something you just have to deal with.

I live up the back of Bondi away from the main strip, surrounded by trees and just a 10-minute walk to the city. There's so many birds, it's beautiful and yet only five to 10 minutes away is that touristy section of Italian blokes, Brazilian drug dealers, models, actors and peoples who are waiters with scripts. But back here it's really beautiful and I feel more inspired in Bondi than anywhere else I have lived in Australia.

I would say I went through a Lou Reed phase, as did everyone who gret up in the '70s. But I would have to say Marc Bolan and David Bowie were the closest I got to hero worship in the very early '70s. I lived and breathed those guys for a while.

I'm a vegan but then in one or two ways I will fall down in a horrible fashion. Like I'll be a vegan and go and swim a mile every morning and then I will go home and enjoy a chocolate bar. It can be such an ironic situation, it's like I am battling two voices in my head. I could go to a bar and drink five Coronas and smoke five joints and then do three hours of yoga. I can vary widely all over the place, but mainly I have been and tried to be healthy. I have become more aware of that as I have gotten older, that's for sure.

As far as Australian rock goes we're just a minor chapter. If you look at any encyclopedia of Aussie rock pretty much what we are is a footnote, which is fine by me. I don't know what our status is at the moment, but I think to the general public they really don't know us any more and I'm not surprised or disappointed. It wasn't a path I chose to follow - that of success or being recognised.

The latest Church album, Forget Yourself, is available through Shock Records.

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