The Art of Conversation by Neal Hunt

Whilst not in Church ,Steve Kilbey still has plenty to say in his songwriting. Steve Kilbey is on a bit of a high at the moment.The Church have released another album,it's getting pretty good notes and the band themselves have just toured acoustically in a series of concerts that I unfortunately missed. And I say unfortunately because they were that good that the people I know that saw them came away just about speechless. On top of that Kilbey,now based in Delaware,has a solo album Dabble just released. It's a long,dreamy aand introspective album that doesn't unfold immediately. Give it some time however and the listener is rewarded,and the mere fact that Kilbey sings and wrote the material means that it isn't a million miles away from his regular gig.How does he maintain such a prolific approach? Well, he lives in Steve's world.

"I can always write a lyric when I want to." he explains.I'm not saying it's a gift-that's too grandiose,but it's definitley an ability and I don't ask too much of it. And you've got to kind of respect it. If I was to get involved in all the other stuff then I wouldn't be able to write anything. I have to remain in this sort of prolonged adolescence,as soon as you get involved in the world...then you're not going to write lyrics for songs. You're going to write...ummm mundane..." Kilbey says,stopping for thought.The lyrics will be vastly different? "Yeah,Yeah.So I sort of have to remain in this other world. And I'm hopeless at making decisions in the real world.I'm confused and I get lost I mean," he says,indicating the downside." We went to Melbourne last week and I was driving a car and after 21 years of playing in Melbourne I still don't know how to get from the airport to St.Kilda.And I just think what's wrong with me?

"It's a bit of bad timing,'Kilbey confesses."Having this album out when everything else is happening."

How does Dabble come about? Is it a drug reference?A plaything for Kilbey to amuse himself while he whiles away his time in the States,which may well be very short."It's not really a drug reference,it essentially came about because I have this friend who had a drummer friend and I met him one day and I was bored..." Kilbey clarifies." So I said to him'why don't we do a record?'And then he found a guy who had a basement studio and that guy said 'Well whatever you want to do; I'll help you do it.' I don't like Delaware at all," he declares."I don't like the States but I like Delaware even less."

The approach to Dabble was a first for Kilbey.Here the band literally made it up as they went."We had nine days to make it," he enthuses,"so we just went and made it up on the spot.We'd get the drummer in there and I'd start playing bass and we'd run the computer and we'd play it and I'd say to the guys "That's it." They'd say 'Aren't we going to rehearse it? So it took them a little while to get used to it."

Lyrically though Kilbey adopted the same form he does for the Church.

"I listen to a piece of music over and over and over," he explains. "I don't really put any pressure on myself and then one day-usually the morning that I have to go and sing it-I'll go and write the lyrics.With the last Church album [ed. Presumably Hologram of Baal, not Box of Birds] I did them in my brother's living room. The morning that I had to go and record them I sat down aand wrote the lyrics.They all just simmer in there. It never lets me down-I can always write a lyric when I want to. It's like Lord Alfred Tennyson who used to sit down every morning at 10 o'clock to write poetry-he just must have gotten himself in a space to do it.

It's all bollocks though isn't it? I was looking up at James Packer's place (up the road from where we sit) and thinking "Jesus, what's he ever done to deserve that."


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