We’re rounding out the year with a conversation that’s different from everything else you’ve heard on Personal Landscapes.
Until now, I’ve spoken with or about writers of travel literature. But this time, I’m talking to a songwriter. It’s also an excursion into one of my own personal landscapes.
Steve Kilbey is the singer, songwriter and bass guitarist of the legendary Australian rock band The Church.
If you grew up in the 1980s, like I did, you’ll know them for the song ‘Under the Milky Way’. It was everywhere back then, from top 40 radio to an episode of Miami Vice.
But it represents just the smallest fraction of this remarkably prolific artist’s work.
The Church have released some 25 studio albums, depending on how you count them. Steve has also made at least 19 solo albums, and has collaborated on over 20 albums with a wide range of artists, as well as more one-off songs than I can count.
He’s had his visual art exhibited in both Australia and America. And he’s published several volumes of poetry, and a wonderful memoir called Something Quite Peculiar that paints a picture of life in Australia in the 1960s and 70s, and tells the story of what it’s like to master a craft, to play in bands, and to ride the roller coaster of fame.
I wanted to talk with him here on the podcast because Steve’s work was the single biggest influence on my own development as a writer. He also gave me a dose of encouragement in those early days of magazine features when I was struggling to break through.
We reference a lot of songs, albums and books in our conversation. I can’t include them here for fear of being flagged for copyright issues. But I put a pile of links below.
I highly recommend giving some of them a listen, especially if you’re not familiar with Steve’s work.
We discuss writing and lyrics, songs about place, mastering a craft, and how music can recall our most intense experiences with vividness and immediacy.
I hope you enjoy sitting in on our discussion.
You can read more about Steve on his website. Follow him on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And buy music direct from the artist.
For more on The Church, visit the band’s website and follow them on Facebook and YouTube.
These are the books we mentioned in the podcast:
- Something Quite Peculiar: The Church, The Music, The Mayhem by Steve Kilbey
- No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and The Church by Robert Lurie
- Steve Kilbey Documentary
And here are some of the songs:
- Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely; Angel Eyes
- My early Church discoveries: Starfish, Gold Afternoon Fix, Of Skins and Heart, Seance, Priest=Aura
- My Mongolia travel soundtrack: After Everything Now This, Remindlessness, A Quick Smoke at Spot’s
- Church lyrics from the literate (Grind) to the odd — sci fi (Terra Nova Cain, Dome) and film noir (Loveblind, Espionage)
- Rapid-fire songs about place: Africa by Toto; Great Southern Land by Icehouse; St. Lawrence River by David Usher; The Tragically Hip; One Night in Bangkok by Murray Head; Boys of Summer by Don Henley; Backstreets and The River by Springsteen; Low by David Bowie; Bel-Air by The Church
- A few Kilbey songs inspired by place: Lost; Hotel Womb; Constant in Opal; Buffalo; Louisiana; Laurel Canyon
- Steve’s poetry: Earthed, Art, Man & Technology; The Lonely City; The Visitor
- Concept albums: The Hypnagogue; Eleven Women; Songs from Another Life; Jupiter 13; The Strange Life of Persephone Nimbus