With two collaborative album releases earlier this year with Saffire's Gareth Koch, The Church's Steve Kilbey continues to release new music at an astonishing rate.
His latest release is his a new solo album titled 'Eleven Women', a record he had no plans to make until the pandemic came knocking.
Ahead of a Sydney show with his current band The Winged Heels next week, the veteran Australian songwriter lets us into his world and explains why the new album is like "snap-frozen vegetables".Before the pandemic, did you think 2020 would find you in such a creative bubble, releasing a new solo album and contributing to another two records?
I'm always in a creative bubble. Neither snow, nor sleet, nor hail will keep me from my appointed rounds of writing songs, painting paintings and making music.How early on into the lockdown did you realise you could take advantage of the situation and let loose in the studio?
I started doing gigs on Instagram and told people watching that they could pay if they wanted and not pay if they didn't want to.
Some of my viewers were extremely generous with their contributions and I decided it would be only fair to turn that into new music.
I had also discovered Damien Gerard's new studio in Gosford and the amazing engineer Andrew Beck, who immediately understood what I'm about, who works there. So I was very keen to get back in there and make more music.'Eleven Women' is your new solo record; recorded across three days; I'm sure that gave an immediacy to the process; working so quickly, how did that shape the overall result?
I've always been an impatient devil and I detest the long, boring processes which go with modern recording so this record is a complete reaction against that.
I'm working with three brilliant musicians who don't need 50 takes to get it right. I used my lack of time to my advantage and I feel my record is like snap-frozen vegetables; I've preserved all the inherent goodness in the music by quickly getting it down and not dragging it out and losing the energy.Given you hadn't planned on recording prior to COVID, once the idea to record had fully formed did the writing of new songs come freely?
Au contraire: When I wrote the songs I hadn't planned on recording them. In fact, I swore to my audience that I was going to write them in a week and play them and then never record or play them again.
I became too attached to the songs and I couldn't leave them alone. I just had to record them. I recorded the album due to popular demand.Tell us a bit about another two new albums you've released this year, both with Gareth Koch: 'Chryse Planitia' and 'Songs From Another Life (Music of Antiquity)'?
Gareth Koch comes from a different world to me. We bonded immediately and became fast friends.
Whilst recording our first album I told him how I had always been interested in trying to reimagine the music of antiquity and so we quickly went back in and recorded the second album, which is our take on what the Greeks, Romans and Babylonians might have done if they had ever apprehended rock & roll.You're performing next weekend with your Winged Heels band; those new to the group, what do the aforementioned Gareth, Roger Mason and Barton Price bring to the stage?
Gareth, Roger, and Barton bring experience and improvisation, and between the four of us we have 160 years laying music professionally.Performing live in 2020; have you acclimatised to seated audiences? And has that shifted the dynamic at all between musician and audience member?
After about 20 seconds into the performance I usually forget the audience whether they are seated, standing, or hanging from the ceiling, and I succumb to the magic of whatever I'm doing. So, no. Plus when The Church plays in the USA, half the gigs are in seated venues so I'm used to it.With the pandemic flourishing overseas, are you resigned to not touring internationally for some time?
Sadly yes, sadly maybe never again. That breaks my heart.If Australia continues to improve, can we expect a Steve Kilbey roadshow?
Yes, I would love to have a solo roadshow and eventually when the borders open up maybe The Church will do gigs too.You bio mentions you sometimes juggle dangerous objects; care to elaborate?
I juggle irony, anachronism, esoterica, arcane concepts and the occasional ball of confusion.Lastly, any movement on buying a dachshund?
Still can't afford the dachshund, so I bought one of them racing snails but when I took his shell off he became sluggish.Steve Kilbey & The Winged Heels play Max Watts (Sydney) 21 November. Limited tickets are available.