The inspiring story of one of Australia’s greatest rock bands

Going to the big smoke can be scary on its own… but the lure of Sydney was far too strong for Steve Kilbey.

Before becoming the lead singer of popular rock band The Church, Kilbey worked a mundane job in Canberra.

“I was in public service, I was sitting there watching the clock ticking, I was sitting there saying ‘oh, it must be 4 o’clock, it must be 4 o’clock’…and then you were looking and it It’s only 3 past 10” recalls Kilbey.

“It was a terrible job, when you want to hang out, I think it’s really bad for your health”

“This [living in Canberra] was really good for me because nobody liked me there and I didn’t have any friends, it allowed me to focus totally on my music”

“You couldn’t come from Canberra at that time, you had to move to Sydney or Melbourne”

So he did.

The singer wrote a letter of resignation, threw his bass and tape recorder in the car and headed north.

“When I arrived in Sydney, there were so many distractions, I had lots of friends, there were drugs, the sea, the surf, the weather was always sunny and there were always parties,” he said. Kilbey recalls.

“I was meeting like-minded people and playing music”

“I was convinced that I was going to get there, for me it was a matter of time”

“I had a feeling of manifest destiny that this would surely happen for me, not because I was good, but I would see other people succeed in music and I would surely think I was as good as them”

But no one around Kilbey thought he had what it took to “succeed”.

“Whether it was the girls I was dating, the musicians, my music teachers, anyone I talked to, no one thought I was going anywhere”

But there was one person close to Kilbey who thought he was successful from an early age, his brother.

“I used to make him listen to my tapes and he believed in me”

Steve came into contact with an old friend Peter Koppes, together they formed the psychedelic rock band The Church in 1980.

It was on their first album Of skins and hearts that the group delivered their first radio hit “Unguarded Moment” which smashed its way up the charts.

They were subsequently signed to major labels in Australia, Europe and the United States, returning to the charts with the album. Starfish and the US Top 40 hit “Under The Milky Way”

They were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2010 and continue to sell out.

… it is certainly better than working.

Quotes from episode 6 of The Street Press podcast with Sean Fraser

The Church are playing their first tour in four years with shows in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Margaret River.

Tickets are available at

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