Something Quite Peculiar – Steve Kilbey
A life spent in and out of The Church, experimenting with paisley shirts, Tarot, drugs and musical masterworks, is at the heart of Steve Kilbey’s autobiography, Something Quite Peculiar.
Known around the world for the massive radio hit Under the Milky Way, Kilbey is best-known in Australia as a consistently brilliant Bohemian.
Tantalizing Tales From a Sixties Typewriter
Something Quite Peculiar is really like 20 tantalising tales from a Sixties typewriter, though from a Twenties computer. In fact, the song tells you about the singer, and the singer’s life story tends to explain the song. Make up your own mind about the book.
Tantalized – Classic Church
Tantalized – a classic single from the album Heyday by The Church – was remastered in 2002 after first being released in 1985.
Mixed in a hurry by British producer Peter Walsh working from 9.00am to 4.00am, the album was, nevertheless, mistake-free in the end, meticulously produced by a perfectionist.
The extended 12-inch single version of Tantalized at 4 minutes, 57 seconds is on YouTube.
Heyday and Heyda
The word Heyday dates from the late 16th century, and is adapted from ‘heyda’ in the 1520’s. By 1751 it had come to mean a period of success.
The song and the album came, prophetically, from The Church’s heyday in the Eighties.
The 2SER Interview
Richard Kingsmill interviewed Steve Kilbey on Sydney 2SER in 1985 to talk about the new creative democracy in The Church pioneered on Heyday and the fifth person on the album, producer Peter Walsh.
“Richard Ploog was walking along the street holding Peter Walsh’s hand…”
Tantalized and Tantalus
The etymology of the song title is as follows. Tantalus, in Greek mythology, was condemned to Tartarus as punishment. He had to stand forever in Tartarus, in water that receded when he tried to drink, under fruit trees with branches always out of reach.
The Jam Session
The song emerged from a jam session with Peter Koppes and Marty Willson-Piper – when Koppes left his guitar in a rehearsal and switched to drums. Steve Kilbey wrote the lyrics later.
Willson-Piper’s Rickenbacker 12 string was fed through a fuzz box. Producer Peter Walsh added horns.
The Film Clip
Marty Willson-Piper on Heyday
“With our tongues firmly in our cheeks we released Heyday in the European spring of 1985, the four of us in the most decorous shirts the world had ever seen and an authentic expensive Persian carpet as a backdrop.
I remember we hired the carpet from a posh shop called Nazar carpets in Mosman on Sydney’s North Shore.
It was heavy and cumbersome and took some serious manoeuvring in order to get it to the location for the photo shoot.
Photographer Wendy McDougall
In those days user-friendly image editing programs such as Photoshop were not readily available to create a computer generated background. The photographer was Wendy McDougall, well known for her band shots.
However, it was a friend of ours – Tony Forbes – who thought up the cover concept. Putting a whole lot of effort into something that was only going to confuse the public was the church at its contrary best.”
Making Tantalized at EMI
Tantalized was made at EMI Studios 301. The studios had been on Level 7 of the building since 1954 – and there were three. Studio A, B and C.
The orchestration on Heyday was the work of the 1987 ABC-TV news theme scorer, Tony Ansell. A full list of credits can be found at All Music.
Tantalized Producer Peter Walsh
Record producer Peter Walsh is best known for his work on the breakthrough Simple Minds album New Gold Dream, and for his long association with Peter Gabriel; notably as co producer and mixer of Plays Live & Grammy award winning Secret World Live. He has co produced, recorded and mixed Scott Walker’s last seven albums and also worked on Heaven 17’s Penthouse And Pavement.
Engineers: Guy Gray and Peter Walsh
Producer: Peter Walsh
Lyrics: Steve Kilbey
Composition: Steve Kilbey, Peter Koppes, Richard Ploog and Marty Willson-Piper.
The Run-Out Messages
EMI Parlophone PCSO.430034
I THOUGHT IT WAS TOBACCO THEY WERE SMOKIN’
YOUNG ENGLISH KNOB-TWIDDLER* MEETS THE BONDI BOYS
*British producer Peter Walsh
The Church and Paisley Shirts
Paisley, worn on stage and for photo shoots by The Church in the mid 1980’s, is based on a teardrop design (from Kashmir, India) in its original form, but the patterns were adapted in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland, at shawl factories in 1800-1850.
The classic Bohemian print is associated with Oscar Wilde and his paisley smoking jacket.
Paisley is also associated with Liberty of London and in fact Arthur Lasenby Liberty was a friend of Oscar Wilde.
John Lennon and Paisley
Paisley was also painted by the Pre-Raphaelites. William Morris adopted the print. John Lennon painted his Rolls-Royce with Paisley designs.
In the Sixties and Seventies, Paisley was used by designers Yves Saint Laurent, Biba, Bill Blass, Jean Muir and Bill Gibb.
Paisley has been worn by Janis Joplin, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Prince (who named his record label and studio Paisley Park after the design), Bobby Gillespie, Paul Weller, Liam Gallagher and Florence Welch. Gallagher’s clothing label Pretty Green specialises in Paisley designs.
Here Steve Kilbey, talks about Paisley shirts, drugs and Australian music, with Cassie McCullagh on ABC Radio National.
The Astrology of The Church
Steve Kilbey was born with Neptune at 24 Libra. Peter Koppes, with Mars at 24 Libra. Marty Willson-Piper, with Jupiter at 24 Libra.
This is a triple conjunction and extremely rare. Libra is the most romantic sign of the zodiac and given to musical partnerships, passionate romances and complex marriages – but can be prone to difficult divorces.
Heyday was released in 1985 when Saturn moved to 24 Scorpio in a pattern not possible in 29 years, triggering the charts of three out of four members.
13th September 1954
21st November 1955
29th October 1962
7th May 1958
Steve Kilbey on The Church
look at us on the cover
ah so pretty so pretty
in paisley as some kinda statement against…
ah I dunno
big fat record execs with their starsign pendants on their hairy chests
against spand-0 ballet and Belinda carlisle
against the outfield and preppy college kids
against howard jones and Madonna
against oafs and brutes n non poetic types
we were the church
we were beautiful and more slender
we had more hair and better guitars
we were well read and we liked to take hallucinogens
The Film Clip for Tantalized
QRO Magazine asked Steve Kilbey about the film clip for Tantalized.
Is there a video made for The Church that you feel somehow – conveyed the essence of a song?
Steve Kilbey: Ever? Yeah. Couple of people called Leslie and Larry – Williams, I think it was – did a video back in 1986, did video for a song called “Tantalized”. And it was um – back in the days of film and it was all different kinds of camera, different kinds of films. They even had some videotape cameras. And they were just doing anything and kind of. A guy delivered a pizza and they gave the pizza guy the camera to go and film these guys. He was walking around and they were telling us to try to bump into the pizza guy. It sort of had a kind of very confrontational camera work with different kinds of camera and then they chopped it all up, so it was sort of – that was good. That got some idea of – I think of the song. Most of the other videos are kind of a distraction. They might be good but – they – limit the ambiguity the song used to have.
The Lyrics by Steve Kilbey
God I’ve been asleep so long, I’ve been away
Back from software limbo the natives call today
I let their promises bind me
I let seductive logic blind me
I embraced a machine, I went through the routine
And I hid from the people who were trying to find me
Till the day comes when you realize
Otherwise you never care
Pandora’s box reveals a new surprise
Can’t wait to see your eyes, now you’ve been tantalized
For a hundred and one voluptuous days I broke the law
The labyrinth was closing so we panicked up a door
I let their wanton flesh obsess me
I felt their dreams and drugs assess me
I was hired and fired yet never inspired
Flattering, chattering words to impress me
All that glittered had me mesmerized
Otherwise I would have dared
Guess the nature of our enterprise
Can’t stop to sympathize, how you’ve been tantalized
I turned up in some harsh doomed city on another plane
I couldn’t believe the room I got or the guests I entertained
I felt the dirty streets surround me
I let the buzzing swarm confound me
I gave money to ghosts, I insulted my hosts
I could never get off the stuff that spellbound me
The Rickenbacker and Tantalized
Marty Willson-Piper spoke to Smells Like Infinite Sadness about his use of the Rickenbacker on Heyday.
“The guy’s name was Patrick Mata and I saw him play live, and I think he was playing a Fender 12-string through a fuzzbox. And I saw that, and I thought wow that’s great! That’s so cool. So I think that might have been the bigger influence for me. Seeing this guy that no one’s ever heard of playing an instrument that’s usually associated with beauty and melody, but plugging it into a fuzzbox and playing like that (makes loud clanging sound)!
So consequently, I didn’t only play my guitar through a fuzzbox, but I wasn’t scared to try. If you listen to Tantalized (off Heyday), that was all Rickenbacker.”
Born on February 8th 1964, the 12-string Rickenbacker made its way to The Savoy Hilton and into the hands of John Lennon, who then gave it to George Harrison.
Roger McGuinn of the Byrds sent his back to the factory for a pickup and onboard compressor. Pete Townshend played his Rickenbacker on Pictures of Lily, Substitute and I Can’t Explain.
You can hear it on This Charming Man (The Smiths) and of course on the biggest-selling single The Church created, Under the Milky Way.
The Church Website
The Church YouTube Channel
Heyday on YouTube
The Church Fan Website
Lessons With Marty Willson-Piper
Guitar and songwriting Skype lessons with Marty Willson-Piper at the excellent In Deep Music Archive.
Steve Kilbey’s critically acclaimed autobiography is here.
Story: Jessica Adams.