WELCOMED: Kim Churchill and his band performing at The Gum Ball music festival last Saturday. Pictures: Noel PlummerWHEN Kim Churchill first arrived at Maitland’s Grand Junction Hotel as a fresh-faced teenager armed with his guitar, he instantly felt at home.
At the time the Merimbula-raised surf-folk rocker had rarely performed beyond the NSW south coast. That night Churchill was supporting blues guitar wizard Jeff Lang. Among “The Junkyard” punters wereThe Gum Ball festival founder Matt Johnston and his now wife Jessica.
Churchill has since played at the Johnstons’ Dashville festival at Lower Belford multiple times, including last Saturday where he launched his new single Breakneck Speed.
The 26-year-old has forged such a close bond with the Johnstons andother members of the Junkyard’s music community, that last year hechose to end his nomadic lifestyle and settle atBar Beach.
Churchill describes the vintage pub near the Maitland train station as a “second home.”
SINGLE THEORY: Kim Churchill released his new track Breakneck Speed last week.
“I found I was accepted in a way I had never been in my life before,” Churchill tells Weekender backstage at The Gum Ball.“I felt like I had found my people.
“We’ve never looked back and have become closer and closer.”
Churchill’s star has been on the rise sincethe success of his fourth album Silence/Win, which produced breakthrough singles Single Spark and Window To The Sky. The latter was his debut entry in the Triple J Hottest 100 at No.42 in 2014.
While 2014 was undoubtedly the greatest 12 months of the bubbly musician’s career, the subsequent years have been challenging.
Kim Churchill talks to Josh LeesonThe growth in his profilehas led to greater pressure and expectation. Work on album No.5 has been problematic. Renowned as aperfectionist, Churchillspent 18 months working on the album. It wasalmost finished when he decided itcouldn’t be released.
“We sat down, me and my team, in Sydney and there’s the phrase going around you can’t polish a turd, which is what I began to hope to achieve,” he says. “But you can dip it in glitter, so a lump of money was whacked down the table to start re-mixing the album.
“It made me feel uncomfortable and I realised in that moment if we’re all on the samepage in feeling that the material wasn’t quite right then bugger it, I’ll write more songs. I know how to do that. I’ve always known how to writesongs, that’s fine.”
Kim ChurchillWeight Falls.
“It was like this enormous weight fell off me and it was incredible,” he says.“It was the most wonderful and liberating feeling.”
The first single Breakneck Speed hit the airwaves last week and is already becoming a hit on Triple J.
The response Churchill received last week from the Gum Ball audience also bodes well for the album’s success when it’s released in August.
Breakneck Speed features an epic intro reminiscentof Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘80s classic Relax before it breaks into pumping brass section.
That track was actually one of the only survivors from Churchill’s abandoned album. Initially he didn’t want the song included.
“The record label heard the new album and said they loved it, but they felt it’s missing this track,” he says.“I said,‘oh man, that track?’I went into the studio for three weeks and changed the lyrics and worked on it, polished the turd one might say, but it came up pretty good.
“It was a leap of faith. I trust my label. They’re very experienced, good and incredible music listeners and appreciators and so when they say something like that, I try it.
“It worked and there’s other songs they want me to look at in the future, so I think it’ll all probably crop up at one point, but it wasn’t right for that moment.”
Churchill’s songwriting has also developed greatly from his days when he wowed Bluesfest audiences with his virtuosofolk and blues guitar playing. These days Churchill favours melodies over theatrics.
“Back in my teens I was more of a busker, almost a bit of a novelty in terms of the one-man band thing,” he says.“I was very focused on fancy guitar work and that sort of stuff.
“These days it’s much more about the songs. On this new album for the first time it’s about the beats as well.
“I did a lot of it with just me tapping on a floor tom withan iPad like a garage band making beats.
“That opened up a whole world formy awkward lolloping rhythms that are built around my acoustic guitar. I’d never recorded or demoed on an iPad, so such a funny little thing opened up such an awesomeworld for my music.”
At The Gum Ball last Saturday night Churchill played just his third show with his new two-man band. No stone was left unturned in preparation.
“It’s been full on,” Churchill says of the rehearsals.“I’ve been bringing them up to Newcastle to a little garage where we can rehearse three days a week, eight to 12 hours a day.
“With the beats I was layering on a lot of floor toms and snare, but there’s not any real drums. We didn’t want to lose that by getting a real drummer, so we’ve got two drummers with much smaller set-ups and I always layer harmonies as well.”
ViewJosh Leeson’s video interview with Kim Churchillbehind the scenes at the Gum Ball Festival at theherald苏州美甲学校网苏州美甲学校论坛