posted on August 29, 2008 at 9:36 pm

the new bass is fretless
i never really played a fretless before
gee its 1980
we feel like we’re living on the very edge of the future
1980…gary numan and everything…
this means nothing to me oh vienna
and i gotta new bass
no its not a fender but its an ibanez
i couldnt afford a fucking fender
plus i wouldnae have probably known the difference
on a complete fucking whim
ive bought this fretless bass
traded in my ibanez les paul bass copy with the red strings
you see folks
some instruments like guitars n pianos
well you know where the notes are
others like trombones n violins
you just have to feel
theres no markings or notches
the double bass is like that too
i bought a black fretless bass
and i stuck some wallpaper on it of a naked lady
everybody says its stupid for a singer to play a fretless
but there you go
i wanted to make it harder for myself, didnt i
i bet i played millions of notes that were slightly out too
flat or sharp just slightly
oh boy i loved to slide around on it though
if you plucked a note
and moved yer finger up or down
there was a smooth continuity of notes
not a rattle rattle rattle as your finger passed over the frets
i can sing and play at the same time
i can sing and play complicated bits too
not just boom boom boom
i sing all these words
at the same time
my fingers slide about my fretless
how did i do it?
i dunno
strapping on a bass
feels like putting on my comfy slippers
even stoned or tripping or legless drunk
look at me
i can still play bass and sing
we’re making an album up in a real studio
i am in constant conflict with everyone
i have to fight and fight and fight
not to be made 1980s over n over
no matter what it says
i produced that first album
my tricks
my ideas
my overdubs
all my 4 years on 4 track went into it
to maintain purity i needs must offend every bastard i work with
the engineers who dont understand how the church should sound
the producer all puffed up on his own self
the other guys in the band
all for different reasons
peter k n i have always argued
ever since we met
he n i arguing
we go fishing together as teenagers
we argued all the way there
all the way home
and even while we were catching fish
so now we’re back together again in the church
and we still argue
but one thing
when we argue
we normally get over it and back to normal quick
not like young mwp whose joined
i seem to upset him and he doesnt talk to me for a week
nick ward is hounding everybody
he is making this
my first record ever
into hell
picking on my words
picking on my singing
most of all
telling me what a rotten bassist i am
how i dont understand anything etc
i had fucking written a hundred great new songs
and all this idiot could do was whine
you see
none of them
except me
really knew what this all could be
dont get me wrong here
peter was already an accomplished and innovative player
but i had to fight to keep it all the way it was sposed to be
i didnt win that fight completely
you can hear that on that first record
the eighties had their way and intruded all over that
i rectified that on the blurred crusade
no more chuggalug guitars
we stopped being a cartoon n became a band
but on the first record
i was struggling with ole mr zeitgeist
and i was a dim visionary
trying to get the others to just trust it
and go with it
but you know
they gotta question everything in heaven n hell
why kilbey why?
dont ask…i cant explain
just fucking do it!
but i dont see why.. i dont understand…
ok dont understand it
just fucking do it like i asked
but i was tiptoeing round everyones ego
one day
walking in town
i went in a music shop
and discovered a brand new roland vocoder
it was a big hefty keyboard
it had these synthetic voice sounds on it
no one had used them yet
and i fell in love
and put it all over the next 4 records
the first time you’ll hear it is on
is this where you live
like the drone of a hundred synthetic monks
its all over blurred crusade
in almost every song
i figured out a lovely way the female voices
could shadow guitar lines
i brought this technique to fruition
on the instrumental remote luxury
hear the female vox with the guitar line
i was so cocky about my lyrics
jesus christ
when was the last time you heard an album start with
in the empty place the soul stripped bare…..?
you know
go back to 1980
and check out who was writing stuff like that
and all the chords in that song
including a few doozies i never used again
i never cared for unguarded moment that much
its ok i guess
i got no comment on it
other than every other person that heard it went nuts
and said
thats a hit
yeah im grateful to it i guess
i hear 3 bands in australia did a version each
and toured around with that as some common focus
so be it!
what i came up with almost thirty years ago
still has enough mojo left in it
for a buncha youngsters to still get off on it
god blessem
what i do lasts
you will still be listening to painkiller in twenty years
one does not outgrow my stuff
it comes with a guarantee to suit all times n climes
the songs are eternal
they are not about youth or old age
they are pieces
merely tiny bits in the puzzle
to people who were interested
my lyrics were pop lyrics granted
that was my canvas
the cartoon world of pop
it was 1980

32 Responses to “bassed on a true storey”

  1. avatar
    esne snoner | 29 August 2008 at 10:42 pm #

    cheers sk – already yesterday i was out walking with tbc blasting away on the mp3 player thinking how timeless it is – and how well produced – and such amazing but subtle effects, blah, blah, blah – but i also prefer the newer stuff – all of it – very much looking forward to 10 sept at the oxford arts factory

  2. avatar
    kokky | 29 August 2008 at 10:49 pm #

    i cannot help but loving that 80s sound of the Church still.. most songs ARE still juicy with MOJO to this day. I will go liquid on the spot if 'Is This Where You Live' or 'It Doesn't Change' is allowed a spot on the setlist again.. and how cool would it be to open up with 'In This Room'? .. aah->

  3. avatar
    knot | 29 August 2008 at 11:13 pm #

    And us lucky American teenagers
    with MTV
    were overjoyed sitting on our
    best friend’s couch (brown velour), chugging multiple Coca Colas and eating double cheese pizza

    watching between the “Video Killed the Radio Star” and “Hungry Like the Wolf”..yes…happiness

    “Unguarded Moment”

  4. avatar
    princey | 29 August 2008 at 11:39 pm #

    It took me while to get used to the vocoder sounds, but once hooked, I realised it takes those songs to another level….long live eighties Church!!!
    Love Amanda

  5. avatar
    Raby Pilduc | 29 August 2008 at 11:44 pm #

    Like 99.9% of your stuff the EMC tracks are highly fucking addictive…got them playing 24×7 and still getting grabbed by more little hooks

  6. avatar
    andmoreagain | 30 August 2008 at 2:00 am #

    I remember that first album as very classic sounding, not soon to be dated like say the Psychedelic Furs records from that time and while I didn’t hear Blurred Crusade for another few years I remember falling in love with it immediately. (especially To Be In Your Eyes) It’s still my fave early record.

  7. avatar
    Anonymous | 30 August 2008 at 4:41 am #

    How fortunate we are that the integrity of the church was able to create a source of sound that was able to grow and become a serious medium for aural expression… how true it is that these songs are virtually timeless…
    much love..

  8. avatar
    flyingbird | 30 August 2008 at 5:37 am #

    Well done, Steve. I really, really appreciate it.

    And yes, needless to say, Nick WAS/IS an idiot!

    Last night I ordered painkiller, late but…
    As if I’ve been waiting for it all my life, just can’t wait anymore.

    I wish I could be there on Sep 10th. Are you going to film it?


  9. avatar
    flyingbird | 30 August 2008 at 5:43 am #

    An utter idiot!!!!

    … is it OK now?

  10. avatar
    Anonymous | 30 August 2008 at 5:51 am #

    oh to be a fretless bass,…love .xo

  11. avatar
    Anonymous | 30 August 2008 at 6:19 am #


  12. avatar
    davem | 30 August 2008 at 6:49 am #

    You are the best on this planet. We all KNOW Painkiller is going to be fantastic.

  13. avatar
    flyingbird | 30 August 2008 at 7:05 am #

    I agree with you, davem. He is the BEST … …
    and you’re the BEST friend on this planet.

  14. avatar
    Thomas Thomsen, Denmark | 30 August 2008 at 7:48 am #

    Yes, I agree, The Blurred Crusade is my favourite 80’s Church album, as well. BUT…still not a patch on late-period Church. Really looking forward to Painkiller and the next Church album, which, I understand, is almost completed (in terms of mixing).

  15. avatar
    kat | 30 August 2008 at 7:54 am #


    i think you should write a song called elephant tranquilizer while i wait for painkiller to hit my mailbox.

  16. avatar
    fantasticandy | 30 August 2008 at 7:58 am #

    is this the kilbey ‘love posse’ or what?

    vivid recollections killer, everything from those days seems sharp, tightly focused……..
    luckily for us you were a determined young man.

  17. avatar
    flyingbird | 30 August 2008 at 9:39 am #

    “oh Sappho!” would be a much saucier song I surmise.

  18. avatar
    Anonymous | 30 August 2008 at 10:27 am #

    “blind sided one eyed adulation is what I strive for” the old man declared rather solemnly. he raised his hand and stroke his beard with his one free index. his nine other digits were already occupied, caressing his ego, which hovered to his left, inflated and bulbous. “I have penned greatness, and you may behold me for nigh on eternity” he spluttered.


  19. avatar
    Anonymous | 30 August 2008 at 11:36 am #

    Well done Steven Kilbey, bravo. SFX applause.

    The use of electrics in your band was an advance for Australian soundscape, quite influential. You did make an Australian sound with those female voices too but you know how things go ’round in circles? Australian fiddle players were doing similar if not the same in terms of the outcome around Federation in the ragtime style, shadows to banjos, harmonicas, guitars and pianos, and replicates or harmonies of voice melody, fiddle players were busy back then, and always male (women of course only play/ed violin), and no doubt all appreciating the waltzing matilda wild colonial freedoms of being fretless. They were also using the silent gaps between that power of colonial sustain, working class rhythms. ‘Unguarded Moment’ works well as a 2/4, it is not hard to find those roots and good for you to look at this age and stage of your career and to show us the journey.

    Peter is worth arguing with, at least he gets over it. Is Marty still a sookie-la-la? What did happen to Richard?

  20. avatar
    Hellbound Heart | 30 August 2008 at 12:04 pm #

    it’s evenin’ and i got dat ol’ painkiller ooonn mmyyhh mmmihhnndd…ohhhh yeahhhh bayyybeee!!!!!
    love always…

  21. avatar
    ross b | 30 August 2008 at 12:32 pm #

    I think OS&H is a damn fine album, certainly for a debut, and the magical thing is that it all just got better and better!!

    Tracks 1, 2, 5, 7, 9 my faves. It's a great album to have playing loudly when driving at night, hooning across the city.. the energy & verve of this music never fails to lift & inspire me.

    Nice solo bass-licks too on 4 & 8!!

    And I have a very soft spot for 'Don't open the door to strangers' – a song that's meant a lot to me personally, I like the arrangement with the piano & acoustic & slide guitar etc, it's a epic finale to a pretty magic album I feel.

  22. avatar
    Anonymous | 30 August 2008 at 1:54 pm #

    ah, sk’s burgeoning mythology. like relics from a salty cave.


  23. avatar
    Anonymous | 30 August 2008 at 1:55 pm #

    sorry. emc tracks are really delightful, more substantive with each listen. worth every dollar.


  24. avatar
    lily was here | 30 August 2008 at 2:04 pm #

    Decades later I still get butterflies in my stomach from OSAH and its inklings .. Sisters, Tear It All Away!!! TFFYxxx

  25. avatar
    Jerry Jascomb | 30 August 2008 at 2:55 pm #

    I wondered about the Vocoder; now I know. I thought I heard it in “Back with Two Beasts” too. Fascinating read today, TTB. Your vision was clear.


  26. avatar
    fantasticandy | 30 August 2008 at 4:00 pm #

    BC wasn’t in the same league as OSAH…it was a slightly below-par re-run of it’s more illustrious predecessor.
    you were treading water.
    remote luxury and the ep’s didn’t help none either.
    but then came seance…………
    right from track one.
    the lull was over.
    the production was fucken horrible.
    the music was sublime.
    then came heyday.
    stunning sleeve.
    good…great in parts…generally overrated though.
    on to the new record deal……….

    EVERYTHING that follows, to this day totally eclipses former work.

    since the ehereal fade-in of destination the church have been the most important ‘rock’ band on this planet.

    a few stumbles and fumbles along the journey towards greatness.
    inevitable perhaps?
    crap timing?
    you continue to produce the most beautiful music.
    which you then offer up to a world that dosen’t give a shit.
    god bless ya killer.
    i wish i REALLY was your friend…..
    i can’t think of anyone cooler.
    andy L.

  27. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 30 August 2008 at 7:10 pm #

    Andy u are the incarnation of cool and I dig the Dudes spacey tunes.

    Thomas I concur with you. ALl the 1992-2008 Church CD’s are so superlative, it’s difficult to appreciate their earlier music even though it’s very impressive.

  28. avatar
    steve kilbey | 30 August 2008 at 9:00 pm #

    some interesting and pithy comments
    trouble is i am egotistical semi-genius
    (with the soul of a clown
    who always blows it at the last minute)
    who else can tell my story ?
    but believe me
    i’m laughing along with you too
    i’m an audacious olde git
    but theres only ONE me

  29. avatar
    steve kilbey | 30 August 2008 at 9:01 pm #

    and when i’m gone
    ooooooh youre gonna miss me….

  30. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 30 August 2008 at 9:15 pm #

    Killer used to fish? What happened in 1972 that made you see the light even before MACCA did !

  31. avatar
    Shawn El | 31 August 2008 at 2:59 am #

    you’re right…I still listen to Remindlessness. It’s genius.

  32. avatar
    MLK | 1 September 2008 at 3:55 am #

    ha thats funny SK, I just recently bought a Roland vocoder…I thought some sounds were familar!! Hmmm…I was thinking of using it on the SK & MK album…

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