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Steve talks to The Age about breaking up and moving to Sweden Print E-mail
Saturday, 24 October 1998
Originally published in Melbourne newspaper The Age, Oct 24th 1997. Written by David Saunders.

Amen To All That
The Age Entertainment Guide Oct 24 1997

For as long as those of us old enough to remember, the Church have been one of Australia's truly serious rock bands, writes David Saunders.

Moody album artwork, cryptic lyrics and an unsmiling Steve Kilbey as this alluring but aloof front man. That's the Church. Veteran of 12 albums over 17 years, the odd line-up change and at times frosty relations between members, they have decided to draw the curtain on an illustrious, if not always headline grabbing career.

Tonight, they play the Palace in what may be their last-ever gig.

Don't expect tears, don't expect a stadium, rock-band embrace at the finale and above all else don't yell out for them to sing The Unguarded Moment, then pop classic that started it for them all those years ago on Countdown. They bannd it from concerts long ago.

The final concerts come as the band congregates to record one last album, one Kilbey hopes will let them leave on a high note after his disappointment with Magician among the Spirits.

But while fans of their jangly guitars and robust loyalty to the music world's sombre side may be sad at their passing, Kilbey is keeping his emotions to himself.

But why do they feel it's time to go?

"I think everybody's had enough and you have to try and go out while you're ahead," says Kilbey, who is moving to Stockholm to be with his twin six-yeard-old daughters and their mother.

Kilbey, who is on the wrong side of 40 himself, is conscious that bands can outstay their welcome.

"I don't want to die before I get old, but I'm getting pretty old anyway," he says. "I don't think groups should keep going well into middle age, I think the Rolling Stones are horrible, I really do. It would have been so much better if they'd packed it in 20 years ago."

In recent times, he's even lightened up, especially onstage, as a rather anarchic (by his standards) solo show in June suggests.

In the loungy surrounds of the Continental Cafe, Prahran, diehard fans, displaying the sort of affection you might expect at a Bon Jovi or Cold Chisel concert, yelled out lyrics as Steve strummed his guitar and Tim Powles sat nonplussed at his drum kit on the side. Audience participation reached an art form when a bloke came onstage and played Under the Milky Way.

"That's been developing over the last couple of years, that sort of yahooish element. When I'm on my own I like it to get silly," says Kilbey.

He believes uprooting from Australia will be a wrench, but an unavoidable one. "It's a big bloody tug actually. It's like my daughters versus everything else. I'm not desperate to ive in Sweden, I had no option if I wanted to be a full time father, I have to go and live there. They won out."

He looks forward to hanging up the guitar for a while and watching his daughters perform Abba routines.

But the music scene that has spawned Benny, Bjorn, Anna and Frida and Europe holds little appeal.

"It's a pretty tight, funny little scene over there. With all the years of going back and forth, I've never really understood how it works."

But, as the Church's wind-up approaches and the icy, Nordic charms of Stockholm beckon, there's one aspect of Kilbey's move that must trouble fans - will he become a Volvo driver?

"No, no, I'm a bit more of a Saab man, but I think I'm going to be more of a subway man around Stockholm. It's pretty hopeless having a car there."

Last Updated ( Saturday, 24 December 2005 )
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