AUDIENCES AT BILLY BRAGG’S PRE-CHRISTMAS EUROPEAN CONCERTS WILL HAVE BEEN ENCHANTED BY SONGWRITER KIM CHURCHILL’S HYPNOTIC ONE-MAN SUPPORT SLOT.
Hand-picked after a chance meeting at a festival, Churchill’s vote of confidence from The Bard Of Barking exposed him to the rigours of the road. The Australian, though, is no stranger to it. Leaving home at 17, he travelled around his homeland to play gigs where he could find them.
The troubador’s forthcoming album, helmed by legendary producer Warne Livesey (The The, Julian Cope, The House Of Love, Midnight Oil) during a month-long recording session in a remote rural village on Vancouver Island, Canada – will be released later in 2014. For now, with new single SOME DAYS THE RAIN MAY FALL about to be released, he could find favour amongst lovers of melodic and textured songwriting. In this brief Q&A with The Mouth Magazine Churchill explains his lifestyle and talks about on the road bravery in the face of food poisoning…
SOME DAYS THE RAIN MAY FALL, YOUR UK DEBUT SINGLE, IS ABOUT TO BE ISSUED… IT’S AN ATMOSPHERIC TRACK – BUT HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR SOUND?
Constantly changing and reforming. I never try to describe it, for that means it has become stagnant. I normally use a lot of percussion with my feet, create the melodic backbone with a guitar and harmonica, and use all this to best view a lyrical idea or concept. I’ve always been a sucker for melodies and I think my influences reflect this. Dylan and Pink Floyd were two of my favourites. I’ve always been a massive fan of Coldplay, as well…
THE RECENT MONTH-LONG RECORDING SESSION IN CANADA WAS THE FIRST TIME IN A WHILE YOU’VE HAD A ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD. YOU PREFER TO TRAVEL ABOUT IN A CAMPER VAN. WHAT’S THE APPEAL OF AN ITINERANT LIFESTYLE?
Immediately it was necessity. I come from a very small town really quite far from any music ‘scene’. And I found the best way to get work was to be available for anything that came up across the country. I’d play in Melbourne one night and be in Byron Bay the next driving the 20 hours in between. To make that kind of thing work you need a bed right there for the quick moments of sleep.
YOU LEFT HOME AT SEVENTEEN… BEFORE THAT, DID YOU HAVE THE AMBITION TO MAKE A RECORD – OR HAS IT COME ABOUT AS A BY-PRODUCT OF THE LIFE YOU LEAD?
Yeah, definitely… I grew up playing classical guitar and it was always my dream to find a way to make guitar playing my life and career. I later discovered a passion for the art of songwriting, and found this more enticing. As soon as high school finished I bought the van and left to work out how to do it.
HAS ‘LIFE ON THE OPEN ROAD’ AFFECTED YOUR WORK?
It’s definitely given me a very unique life which I think the subsequent art must reflect.
YOU RECENTLY SUPPORTED BILLY BRAGG ON A MAJOR EUROPEAN TOUR. BILLY IS KNOWN FOR BEING POLITICALLY CHARGED. BUT ARE YOU SWITCHED ON IN THAT WAY, OR IS YOUR WORLD-VIEW A LITTLE LESS ‘NUTS AND BOLTS’?
Interestingly we did talk about that a bit together. In my own way, I find that the current state of the world has a powerful effect on how I think and feel. However, living in the back of a van makes it very difficult to have any idea what topical things are actually happening. I prefer to write about my own experiences and lessons and hope that a handful of people around the world will find that useful in some way.
HOW WAS THE TOUR?
It was good. When we were in Berlin I somehow managed to get food poisoning and was becoming worse and worse as the afternoon progressed. Finally, when I went on stage I was so bad I confessed to the audience my situation… Everything reached an uncomfortable climax as the first song finished. I ran off to be sick. Unfortunately the toilet was occupied by Billy’s tour manager. I made an incredible mess in the hallway and lay on ground. Not my finest moment… Several minutes later Billy’s tour manager asked if I was sure that I was done and, Oddly though, I realised I felt alright for the first time in hours so I marched back onstage. When I was finished Billy stood at the door of his dressing room, giving me a salute. I felt disgustingly brave.
WAS THE TOUR YOUR FIRST VISIT TO THE UK?
No, I have a lot of family in the UK and have been many times throughout my life – though never to perform. Both countries are connected in many ways and I have a really wonderful time when I visit. We enjoy a pint too, in Australia. That always seems to help when making friends and finding similarities…
SOME DAYS THE RAIN MAY FALL / FEAR THE FIRE is released on 27th January. It will be available on limited edition 7″, and as a free download from Churchill’s website, here.