The upcoming album from Australian chime-rockers The Church, “Man Woman Life Death Infinity,” officially is the group’s 26th. But frontman Steve Kilbey tabulates his career milestones differently. “Actually, I’ve made, collaborated on, or been a part of some 50-odd records, altogether,” says the singer, who turns 63 this week but feels no real sense of legacy. “I’ve just written a lot of songs that are out there if you want to find them. And I’m optimistic, you now? Maybe The Church will get to make another 10 albums, so it isn’t the end.”
Were there times over the years that you thought it was The Church’s swan song?
Oh, yeah. All the time. Sometimes we just ran up against brick walls that seemed insurmountable. Sometimes in a financial sense, or in any sense at all, really — it often felt like the end. So there were a few false endings, but we still kept going.
And now you have ex-Powderfinger guitarist Ian Haug on board – how great is that?
It is truly awesome. This new album is his album. He really stepped up to the plate, so there’s a lot of him on it, for sure. He has really supercharged the process, really brought some meat and muscle to the whole thing.
With songs like “Undersea,” “Submarine” and “Before the Deluge,” this is your aquatic-themed disc, right?
Well, I live next to the sea in Sydney, a city where it rains a lot. So I’ll really never get over rivers and lakes and oceans and big bodies of water and rain, I guess. It’s always been an omnipresent theme in everything I do. But there’s nothing Freudian in there. It’s just that when I set the scene for my songs, I don’t think of big cornfields. I think of seas and storms.
And in cuts like “I Don’t Know How I Don’t Know Why,” you show a new vulnerability.
There is vulnerability. You get to a stage where your life is incredibly bizarre and random, and I really don’t know how and why anymore. And I’m happy to proclaim it.
When did you get to that point?
I think that was after 10 years of heroin addiction — I stumbled out the other end, and went, “Wow, everything I thought I knew was wrong!” I was re-made, and the universe had shown me that I could come undone. I mean, I sat in the gutter with tramps and smoked cigarettes that I found when I was a heroin addict. So after I came out that 17 years ago, I could no longer be that arrogant, seeing that I’d gone from riches to rags so spectacularly. And I’ve taken that on in everything I do.
IF YOU GO
Where: Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Sept. 14
Contact: (415) 346-6000, www.ticketmaster.com
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