Source: Beat Magazine (Australia)
Issue: ?
Date: Jul, 1994
Subject: Interview - Kilbey

By ?

The Church have always been capable of anything and everything - in their errationess, much like New Order, genius ebbed and flowed. At their very best ... well there are now words. At their worst, things were best left unsaid. Some of the worst gigs I've ever seen were early 90's Church embarrassments; hours when their imminenet disintegration seemed fatal and final. And it was sad - sad to see Kilbey, the inspired visionary, word and soundsmith and Willson-Piper, the eloqent, sensitive, guitarist, so estranged. Only on record did the fragile balance seem unaffected - in every Church soundscape there was a moment or three when blinding brilliance overwhelmed emotional entropy; when everything was oh so alright, when the "he and his shadows" syndrome seems artifice.

The Church were never going to be the face of Australian rock n'roll, a band for the booze, brawl and good-time baby set; they were the inner face, the sound of passion unspoken, the sense of freedom both spiritual and universal, and elusive trip to the other side. And they wanted to make music that didn't lumber with the dinosaur beat of some of their comptemporaries but soared with the while light/white heat in their veins.

Sometime, Anywhere - it's 1994 and the Church - down to just Kilbey and Willson-Piper - this time, here and now, they've finally made the record they were always going to make if the circumstance and fate ever allowed. Someime, Anywhere is the distillation and culmination of every invocation of the Church. more importantly, it's opened the doors to a new dawn where the kaleidoscope isn't just limited to the colours of the real rainbow.

Steve Kilbey talks honestly, openly, and with relative ease, his natural in-built suspicion falling away as the interview progresses. This day, Steve Kilbey gives more than a hint; only when it comes to fatherhood does he shy away, sound uncomfortable, quietly saying that he loves his three year old twins but parenthood....

His statements fall least when you expect them; four stand out in the rain of conversation.

"I can write a song easier than doing anything else. in fact, that's all I can do. that's all I'm good for is writing songs."

"I'm almost 40, you know. You should be getting good at what you do by then, shouldn't you... if you're not making good records by the time you are 40, you should get the fuck out of the business."

"I think that if we'd gone and made another album that sounded like the other albums, we should have packed it in. I think what we've done is given ourselves a lease of life for another five years, at least. There's enough directions on this for us to follow up on for another five years and not run out of ideas."

"I think the live stage of my career is over... I mean, how could we reproduce this record on stage - it's just be a big debacle."

Positives come from negatives; negatives from positives. There are at least two sides to every picture. Think about Kilbey's comments while he talks about how the Church's salvation came about; how he and willson-piper finally beat the shadowplay that always surrounded the Church. Kilbey admits the weight of the media and public focus on his own rather slim shoulders constantly ate away within and without.

"Yeah, it was a piss off, more for them than for me, I guess... yeah, yeah, it was pretty hard because the rest of the guys were always resenting me and ganging up on me and stuff and it got pretty lonely sometimes...

"The only thing that could have kept the band going was if the role-playing was dropped. Before we made the record I said to Marty. `you know, it isn't me and three session men anymore - it's the two of us, we're in this together and you're going to take as much responsibility as me and you're going to play bass and I'm gonna play guitar and you're going to sing.' and you know he said `great, that's what I wanted to hear.' And it was no longer me and my shadows - it was like the two of us, in it together. The whole record is a total of two of us... it isn't just me and a guitarist.

"I think the thing was we just had to do it on our own. I think we had to stop working with people who didn't want to be in the group anymore and were just passengers. We had to get rid of having producers and me and marty had to go away and just do something we really wanted to do - and thats what it is. It is the distillation of all the things we promised to do. I think we finally did it, yeah."

And Kilbey is prepared "to go all the way" with technology. Enthusiam crackles in his voice. "We've always had producers in the past and I've always let them take over too much because I never wanted to limit what they were going to do... then I've always been disappointed with the end result.

"With this record we used everything we could get our hands on. I already had my own studio so with the money we got from Arista (with whom they had resolved the renegotiated matters contractual) we bought lots of stuff and had lots of pedals and I had lots of gadgets and a lot of techniques I wanted to try out - a lot of things to do with sampling and computers and stuff, but using them on guitars.

"Marty would just go in and play guitar for hours and then i'd just sit down there with a computer and get every little lick he played and put it in the computer and analyse it and pull it apart and turn it backwards, and you know, stuff like that, and just make songs out of little bits of noise and things. Then we might do a whole track and get rid of everything on that track except for one part. We just did everything we could possibly do to get a song out of somethings."

Listen to the chilling, spooked out, album opener day of the dead - skeletal figures march in synchronised decay across an impossible terrain; Listen to the ambient technoey eastern dance of angelica where the spirits twist and shout to street beat assassins; Listen to fly home and it's multi-layered vocals shifting through an astral strut psychedlic sea; Listen to the levels of Sometime, Anywhere and find the Church, now.

Kilbey agrees, happily explaing that day of the dead does set a strange and nasty tone like when you drop a tab of acid you get a little bit of a prickle up your backbone and you think "god, I'm in for a strange night." The hints have always been there, especially in latterday Church works such as Starfish, Gold Afternoon Fix, and Priest=Aura. But away from the starlight that shone on Kilbey's neo-psychedelic pop perambulations, the real experimentation was going with his own solo projects.

Is sometime, anywhere an entity that sits up and says this is the state of your art so far? "Yeah it does. If anybody said... if somebody arrived from another planet and said `what do you do?' I'd give 'em this album. This just about sums it all up... everything I ever did led up to this album and, you know, I know the next on is going to be 100 percent better, but for the time being I'm happy for this record to represent everything I've done."