Glam’s Jonathan Matthews caught up with Steve Kilbey, vocalist of Australian psychedelic rock band The Church about of their upcoming performance at By The C festival in Glenelg, their songwriting influences, and their most recent album Man, Woman, Life, Death, Infinity.
Jonathan: You’ve got By The C festival coming up in the New Year, are you looking forward to that?
Steve: It’s an awesome line up. I guess I’m looking forward to it, I kind of have to say that *laughs*. I’ve just finished four months of touring, and the day after we finished touring, they hit me with six interviews bright and early in the morning. It’s a little hard to sound enthusiastic when I’m exhausted *laughs*.
J: That’s rough man, no rest for the wicked. Are you looking forward to turning your phone off and having a good rest?
S: Aaaah, yes, I definitely am looking forward to some peace and quiet. I am looking forward to coming down to Glenelg, I was just there about a week ago and it’s lovely. My hotel was right on the beach, I could look out over the ocean, it was a great view. The days were so hot, but it was beautiful to wake up to the cool sea breeze in the morning. The Adelaide heat is intense sometimes.
J: You last album ‘Man, Woman, Life, Death, Infinity’ came out a little while ago, have you got another album in the works yet?
S: Nothing in the works yet, but we’ll probably do one more album before we call it a day. There’s nothing specifically planned, but we will definitely do at least one more. We love what we do, we don’t really need to write anymore, we have so much unreleased music to pick from.
J: How are you feeling about that last album and how it was received?
S: Yeah, we’re really happy with it. We’ve been around for so long, when we release a new album people are like ‘oh, another great album.’ I guess it’s just what people have come to expect, they’re not surprised, but they’re still pleased. We have to do something extraordinary to get noticed I think. That’s the way it is, we’ve got to keep the ball rolling. I’ve got a saying “You have to run as hard as you can to stay in the same place”.
J: You have some really diverse music, what kind of music did you grow up listening to, and how has that influenced your writing style?
S: I grew up listening to stuff like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan. They’re in the background of everything I do, however, when I was sixteen, I got into some more psychedelic stuff. Everything I do is kind of a mixture of all of those influences. Everything that they did and tried to do is what I’ve tried to do in a way. The other guys in the band all have different influences, for example, Peter is really into Jimi Hendrix. I appreciate Jimi Hendrix, but not like Peter does. We all listen to so many different things, it’s great. When we get together it’s a big mixture of everything. We’re influenced by different artists, but The Church is its own band with its own style still, we don’t really sound like anyone else. It’s one of the hardest thing to do in Rock and Roll, to find your own sound. It can be so hard to shrug off all of your influences and be yourself, we’re lucky that we are able to do that.
J: How do you think you got to that point and found that sound?
S: I think we’d been together for about a year before we figured out who we were and what we were doing. After that year we were just taking a stab in the dark, and somehow in 1981 it all fell together. When Richard joined the band he really helped to make the band what it is. It all becomes so much easier when you figure out who you are and what you’re doing. I don’t think there are many bands that can find that instantly, it takes some work and some experimentation. You have to work to discover these things.
J: What other artists are you looking forward to catching at By The C?
S: I know pretty much everyone who’s going to be playing, it’ll be great. It’ll be interesting to see everyone again and catch up. There are so many incredible performers, with so much charisma, and it’ll be interesting to see everyone. I’m looking forward to it.
J: Have you got any final messages for your fans?
S: I’ll see you in Glenelg for an awesome show!
You can see The Church at By The C festival in Glenelg on February 10, 2019, alongside bands like Icehouse, Sunnyboys, and more. Get tickets here.