Friday 16th January 1998: On the bus from the airport coming into Dublin, The Church posters stare out from empty shop windows announcing tomorrows gig. A nice welcome.
Saturday 17th January 1998: The acoustic show at Whelans was a triumph. Steve and Marty injected a packed house with that "real feeling", it went in deep......and it was good. I spoke to Steve before the soundcheck about a few things, old and new.
Q. Whats happening with the Church this year?
S.K. Were releasing a new album we hope, getting a new record deal. If the records does well or gets good reviews and the record company want to pay for it we'll tour America and Europe.
Q. How's the new album sounding? Is this as you announced a few months back going to be the last one?
S.K. No, it's definitely not the last one, because we enjoyed making it, and playing our last gigs too much. So were carrying on. The new record is very electric, very little acoustic guitar, very melodic, and a change of singing style. Im getting away from the talking style on this one and more into real singing. Tim's engineered the mix. He's had a heavy input. There's lots of spacey noises. It's just really strong electric guitar music. Lots of songs this time and no instrumentals. We recorded 14 tracks with probably 12 going on the album. I think people who like the Church are really going to like this record. They might not think it's their favourite but im sure their going to like it. [The previous evening in Drogheda, Steve Mentioned a fifty minute instrumental jam from the album sessions that might be released as a bonus disc. And a track called "This Is It", written in the wake of the death of Michael Hutchence.]
Q. Whats happening with the live album/video that you recorded on your last dates in Australia.
S.K. We changed our mind, it's not coming out. I don't like live records. I think you've got to be there. If your not there then the records not going to convey it. I don't like the way I have to sing live, I have to shout over everything. Instead of singing the way I want to like in the studio.
Q. Now that your living in Sweden do you think you will be making as much music as in the past?
S.K. There will probably be a lull but I'll get back into it. I still want to make two or three albums a year of some kind.
Q. Do you still write as prolifically as you did?
S.K. No. I write these days when I'm making a record. I used to write just for the sake of it but now I write when I need to.
Q. How do you construct a song these days?
S.K. Acoustic guitar, keyboards. Sometimes I construct things in the studio layering things on top of each other like the way Tubular Bells works. Anyway I can write a song, I'll do it.
Q. Do Arista (previous label) have plans to release anything in the future?
S.K. No. We don't have any contact with them. But I'm sure that if we started doing well with a new label, they would do something.
Q. In the 80's, why do you think the band didn't get more exposure by the maintstream press, especially in the UK?
S.K. I think it was a combination of unfortunate circumstances. We came to England in '82 and played to 2,000 people. If we'd stayed in the UK or on the continent, I think we could have made it, but we went back to Australia. We were with the wrong record company in Europe, Carrere, who didn't know what they were doing, and we got labelled by the press as being Australian plus bad management didn't help. We were doing this kind of music before The Smiths, REM, etc. It just didn't happen in the UK. It happened in the US, Canada, and Sweden, etc. It doesn't matter to me. I don't think any one country has a monopoly on good taste. We used to go to Spain and Italy and play to huge crowds, that means as much to me as pulling big crowds in London. The main problem is the English press. If they say 'The Verve' are good, the next week in Sweden and Norway, they're number one. We never got that front page press in England. We were always fighting that.
Q. Why did you stop working with J.D. Daugherty after 'Priest = Aura' ?
S.K. He didn't want to join the band. We offered him the job, but he said no. He was a great contributing musician, and a lovely man. He wanted the best of both worlds, he didn't want to join but he wanted big session fees, playing live fees, staying in good hotels, and flying business class, and all that. He also wanted to have the kind of sway that a band member might have, so he didn't want to be treated just like a hired gun, but he wanted the wages of a hired gun. You can't have it both ways. Then Tim came along, and I think he's a better drummer. More suited to The Church's style.
Q. Like the way Richard Ploog was?
S.K. He's better than Richard. More reliable, he's good every night.
Q. Will you keep it going?
S.K. I think we will now. Last year I wanted to break it up, then we got back together and it was so good. My mother even came along and saw us and said you can't break it up, it's just too good. I think we're getting better and better. Most artists don't with age, but I think we are. If I didn't think the next record was as good as anything else we've done, I would finish it.
Q. How do you rate yourself against the current songwriters around today?
S.K. I think I'm as good as anyone else. I don't think I'm John Lennon or Bob Dylan, but I think my songs are as good as anyone elses. I think Radiohead are pretty good. That guy's got a wonderful voice. As for Oasis and the rest of them, they don't worry me. I don't walk around wishing I'd written their songs.
Q. What do you consider is the band's biggest achievement? S.K. It's just continuing to exist against all the odds. It's like a marathon. The race is the prize. Whoever keeps going the longest gets the prize.