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A tired Steve talks to On The Street - 1986 Print E-mail
Sunday, 01 June 1986

A rather sarcastic interviewer talks to Steve about their long world tour.



Steven Kilbey is tired, and he looks it. After five months on the road, touring from Sweden to San Diego, Norway to North Carolina, he's about played out. But the show must go on, so he dredges up a flicker of life from somewhere deep within. He gives the interviewer what he wants.

"We had three albums out before the fucking Hoodoo Gurus were even a band," he seethes, right on cue. He jumps up with clenched fists, making like he's about to throw a right cross. i get the joke, I think.

"Hey, if you want to say we sound like someone else, that's your business. You have to write what you have to write, don't you?" Clearly he's played this game once or twice. On this, their third international tour, reviewers are something to be taken in stride.

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In April The Church toured America as support to Echo and the Bunnymen. And how'd you go over, Mr. Kilbey?

"Well, they were coming to see Echo, weren't they? But we did alright. When we headline (as they are this July night at Boston's 500-capacity Paradise Club). I find American audiences slightly more appreciative than the crowds at home."

Ah, home. The very mention brings a faint gleam to the bass player's eye. He asks for a Marlboro. Here  in the States, in this club, on this night, The Church are going over quite well indeed. The predominantly female crowd - "Oh really?" muses Mr Kilbey, "it looked to be about 50-50 to me" - are enraptured. They crane their heads for a better eye-view of their heroes. The dual guitar rave-up of "Never Comin' Back Again" [SC: He means "Roman"] incites bum-shaking, foot-pounding gaggles of American womanhood to rock.

On "Tantalized", a trendy-coiffed brunette mouths the words. "Life Speeds Up" find the foursome caught up in their own passion, and it's among the best moments of the night. The first encore of "Unguarded Moment" checks in as something of an artistic albatross, though, will they ever again achieve a more perfect pop?

Relaxing backstage after the crowd of maybe 300 has gone home, Kilbey reflects upon the six years of dues the band has paid in full.

"What do you want to know when we started for? I thought this is for On The Street? They already know when we started," he reasons, fairly fuming.


"Our first record was in 1980, called 'She Never Said', a 45 on Parlophone. Now we're on Warner Bros in the US, and EMI in Australia and Europe." Well, that's better.

"No, I don't like Springsteen at all, but would you expect me to?" he queries testily. "Of bands we've played with here I really like Let's Active. Patti Smith and Television are my all-time American favourites." Someone mentions REM.

"They're so-so," he submits, but screws up his impish face so you know otherwise.

What Australian bands do you like?

"Well, Crystal Set are my favourite band, and Ups and Downs. They're friends of ours." he squints at an article this writer penned for a Boston paper, praising the Crystal Set and among other things, giving the Church short shrift. "Well, at least you like one member of the family [SC: Steve's brother, Russell, was the singer in Crystal Set]," he sighs. Now he looks capable of really hitting someone.

We drift round to the inevitable question. How do you compare American and Australian pop culture.

"I don't."

Well, isn't Australian rock in some ways a distillation of American sounds? Don't Aussie band take existing forms - often American forms - and give them a new slant, make them their own thing? He regards me with droopy, hang-dog eyes.

"Yes, but someday it might be the other way around, now mightn't it?"

Hmmmm. It is a thought - bands from Indianapolis aping the Go-Betweens, guitar-bent pinheads in Chicago boning up on their Stems lick...

So what are The Church up to for the rest of '86? "In about two months we're going home." And will you be gigging? "Well, we really need a holiday first, having been on the road, what, seven months by then." he emits another detectable sigh. "But I suppose we'll be playing out come October or so, and doing some recording."

Perhaps, if he can keep this boyish enthusiasm under control.

Tim Barry.

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