The part drugs have played in the history of The Church
Drugs are bad. Steve Kilbey knows that.
The Church frontman is aware it’s not particularly smart to be seen to be promoting their effectiveness as a songwriting aid.
But he is honest about the part they have played in his career.
“Pot has been involved in every single song, painting, poem, book, performance – everything I've ever done has come from marijuana,” he told Double J’s Karen Leng.
I'm always looking for the music, or the poetry, or the insights that drugs can give me.Steve Kilbey
To write lyrics, he loads a demo onto his iPhone and rolls a joint.
He said he once got kicked off a songwriting panel after talking about his method.
“What the hell? It's worked for me," he said.
“I'm probably one of the most prolific songwriters in the world. If you like my words, and you like my music, you like what I do … dope has unlocked all of that for me.”
Kilbey, who with his bandmates is currently touring Man Woman Life Death Infinity, has a well-known history with drugs.
He struggled with heroin addiction in the 1990s and early 2000s, after being introduced to it by former member of The Go-Betweens Grant McLennan.
Initially, as with marijuana, it was a way to energise his creativity.
“[Arthur] Rimbaud said a poet must derange his senses by any means possible, and I've always taken that on board,” Kilbey said.
“I'm always looking for the music, or the poetry, or the insights that drugs can give me, and I would say that for about three months in the honeymoon period heroin did give me some insights into creativity.
“But of course, after a while, it quickly turned into that I was writing songs despite the heroin, not because of it.
“I wouldn't recommend taking smack and looking to write a song because you might get more than you bargained for.”
He said he went through “10 years of purgatory and hell” thanks to heroin and has regrets about who he was back then.
Maybe the only upside, he said, was that the experience “took a lot of the rough edges” off him.
“It kind of [gave me] more empathy and sympathy for my fellow suffering human beings,” he said.
Kilbey seems content with where the band are currently at.
Though he’s not sure what number this current record is (it might be the 26th, but the number could also be higher), he’s proud of Man Woman Life Death Infinity, and calls the opening track ‘Another Century’ one of the best he’s written.
The Church, he said, have now become a vintage act – in a good way. They’ve endured long enough, through substance issues and personal disputes, to have a sense of timelessness.
“If you had a car from the 1960s in the 1980s, it was just an old bomb,” he said.
“But now if you’ve still got that car in 2017, it's a vintage or veteran car.
“It’s stupid to say this but we have become legendary, just by hanging in there.”