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Jack Frost interview and bio from Beggar's Banquet Print E-mail
Monday, 01 April 1996
This interview is totally stolen from the Beggar's Banquet labels' site. Jack Frost are listed in their "catalogue artists" section. If you like the Go-Betweens and their solo projects, they're listed there too.
The humble beginnings of this scenario are located in New York, 1988. The Go-Betweens were playing a show in a record store and Steven Kilbey went along and introduced himself. From this introduction grew a musical partnership between Kilbey and Grant McLennan that blossomed into Jack Frost.

" I think a lot of people who write songs, once they've got one thing nailed down pretty firmly, they want to try their hand at other things." says Kilbey.

Jack Frost is one of those things that Steven Kilbey has tried his hand at. So has Grant McLennan. Both musicians have now collaborated on a second album, Snow Job. Kilbey and McLennan have separately built a catalogue of experience and contributions which has dwarfed many of their contemporaries.

Kilbey is well known for his very large part in The Church and McLennan for his band The Go-Betweens but apart from these two groups, the pair have both been involved in solo projects.

"I'd much rather collaborate with someone than do things on my own now." states Kilbey. "It's so much more fun. If you get an idea and tell it to someone, they'll make you see it through. There's a lot of pushing and pulling each other, and then you end up in territory where neither of you expected to be, but enjoying it."

"We're quite a good balancing act really. We stop each other going to extremes."

McLennan admits Jack Frost uses a modus operandi at odds with his own, methodical way of working. Because Kilbey places a greater value on inspiration and first instincts this has become the driving aesthetic.

"We have one rule: we don't go into the studio with anything written. I normally have my songs worked out well before I book studio time, but Steve isn't into that at all.

"With Jack Frost we aim to capture that moment of inspiration."

Either way, It's a perfect match. Two perfect craftsmen on the same karmic trail.

Text and interviews thanks to Mark Fraser, Paul Lovatt, Lauren Zoric, Ed St John and Andrew Masterson

The first results of the pairing was the eponymous album, Jack Frost, released in 1991.

"I thought the first album was great. A lot of my favourite stuff that I've ever done is on that record. Now on this second record is a lot more stuff that I think is the best I've done.

"The difference is that there were a lot of ways of writing that we explored on the first album that we didn't explore on this album; this one was far more conventionally written. There are more real tunes on this album.

"Snow Job was recorded a while back, I think about 1993, and then it just lay around and didn't get mixed and finished off" recalls Kilbey. "One song is really old but the rest of it was all done around then... I don't know why we haven't released it sooner, we just didn't focus our attention on it, so last year we finished it off.

"It's more spontaneous with this record. Actually we had a couple of writing sessions where we just put stuff down on cassette very quickly, but most of the stuff was written on the spot in the studio.

"As we were writing them, we were recording them. It was done real quick."

"One of the things that is appealing about Jack Frost is that we're very different as writers and musicians" says McLennan. "Steve loves melody, and so do I. He always will go for the tune which I go for. He's perhaps more of an experimenter with sound than I am, so I learn things. I think my simple, direct approach to the way I work...I think he enjoys that. I find it very effortless to write the words and music with him, there's never any argument. It's 50 - 50 all the way down the line.

"It's a very unusual way of working but it kind of works.We write the music and then put the melodies on and then put the words. Also I really like Steven's voice, and did before I met him, so to actually sing with him is a great buzz. He's also very funny, very intelligent. He's a great guy. He's a misunderstood guy.

"When we work together we hopefully create music that is greater than the sum of its parts. We try to reduce our egos and create something that is not typical of either of us!"

"It's funny, but when we've got our Jack Frost hat on, we're pretty much after the same thing, I think." says Kilbey. "When we hit on a chord sequence or something that we both like, we generally acknowledge that. We don't find that one of us has to talk the other into anything. We both tend to realise it as soon as we hear it.

" Then we come to the lyrics - obviously Grant's a bit more country than I am, and I'm a bit more, well, glam rock, I suppose. I think we pull that into a good thing too. We balance each others natural tendencies."

And sometimes, perhaps, oppose them. There are moments on Snow Job where you can't help but think, listening to the juxtaposition of typical darkly serious Kilbeyism with a typical sweetie-pie McLennanism, that there is a considerable degree of mickey-taking going on.

"Oh yeah." agrees Kilbey. "There's a lot of that. I think we have a healthy disrespect for each other's work!


code: BEGL 183 CD

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