STARFISH Information and Track Details


by Steve Kilbey


(from Australian Promo LP) 1988

(Transcribed by Kevyn Marshall)

No one had ever dreamed that "Starfish" would ever take so long to emerge from the murky waters of The Church's collective subconscious. We originally had envisaged the album coming out very early in '87, but when our relationship with former record company EMI came to a sudden end just before we were about to enter the studio to begin recording, the whole project became shelved indefinitely, until the arduous procedure of finding, negotiating and signing with a new company could be completed. Anyway, to cut a long story short, eventually we plighted our troth with Arista in the U.S. and Europe and Mushroom in Australia.

After many months of looking for the ideal recording studio, and producer where we thought we could all be happy and ideologoically sound, 1987 began to slip through our fingers. So and So wanted to do it but not when we wanted, So and So was available but didn't like my voice (the fool!), So and So couldn't make up his mind....etc etc, until one day Arista suggested Greg Ladanyi and Waddy Wachtel co-produce the album with us in L.A. at Ladanyi's own complex studio. As they say, it was a long shot but it just might work...all I knew about Waddy was that he was the long haired guy jumping about on a Stevie Nicks video and Ladanyi had done "Boys Of Summer" ...hardly the perfect marriage on paper...but how many perfect marriages ever last anyway? It just appealed to some random element type thing and so we set off to L.A. in July to begin our 5th or 6th album not really knowing what dark fate might await us.

We got there and rehearsed for a month. A long and tedious four weeks playing the same 9 or 10 songs over and over. We moulded, remoulded and streamlined those songs and then took 'em to bits and started again...so when we finally started recording we were quite a bit more organised than we were normally used to being. Waddy Wachtel provided the musical and structural suggestions while Ladanyi acted more as an overseer to the whole thing...but as usual The Church also injected its fair share of input...we were very conscious of not coming on like some big Californian production trip. The actual recording was straightforward. Most tracks eventually went down live and there is relatively little overdubbing...even with vocals...it was all pretty simple no-nonsense rock 'n' roll and even so it still took another two and a half months to get it right. We left and the American's mixed it and we were happy with the final name "Starfish" and it felt right and so it came to be. Amen.

DESTINATION
A track we wrote just before departure to L.A. I wanted a couple of longish pieces on the album...songs that felt like journeys...and this one seemed to suggest a long trek through some harsh terrain and with some suitable lyrics this one sets the scene for the rest of the LP rather well, I thought.

MILKY WAY
I wrote this one with occasional songwriting partner Karin Jansson while on holidays in a small cottage on the coast playing an old piano one night. The lyrics concern the legendary hash bar in Amsterdam, The Milky Way Bar, but now I'm not so sure what it's all about.

BLOOD MONEY
Music by the band...written in London in '86 at a small demo studio..an unusual feel for The Church, quite straightforward and powerful, the lyrics are vaguely about a blackmail and its consequences.

LOST
Prompted from a guitar figure from Marty. The album's most "tender" piece of music its just about being lost, totally, as I often feel I am. Thats all.

N.S.E.W.
From a riff by Peter, and fairly straight ahead words, its about being stuck in an awful city (perhaps Los Angeles) and wanting to get home, rather quickish.

SPARK
Written and sung by Marty, he wanted a kinda mott the hoople feeling and got it. I think the lyrics are about regeneration, but I could be wrong..the albums most hard hitting track...musically.

ANTENNA
Written in New York...sort of sea shanty waltz thing in 3/4 time..no idea what the lyrics are about now...forgotten my original intention.

REPTILE
Self explanatory...wanted a slimy snaky feel and achieved it..the protagonist is a pet...or a pet hate.

A NEW SEASON
Written and sung by Peter. Melodic and unusual structure, gentle lyrics give brief glimpses of some other worldly idyll, I find this to be a very comforting kind of song.

HOTEL WOMB
The end of the journey started in destination... longing for the familiar comforts and western numbness after rugged trip through someone elses nightmare. Middle bit supposed to represent a musical storm?
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