Ex busker, Kim Churchill used to live in the back of converted vans, he found this was the best way to move around, playing gigs where and when he fancied. Fast forward a few years and he has completed international dates as the hand-picked support act on Billy Bragg’s epic Tooth and Nail tour, and headlined his own show at London’s Borderline; Australian musical nomad Kim Churchill released his new album Silence/Win in April 2014.
We were invited to come along to the Cavern Club in Exeter to see what the hype was all about, whilst he was preparing to take to the stage, he invited us into the 'Green Room' where we could sit and have a chat about Llama's, towelling bath robes and haggis, here's how we got on....
I see you managed to squeeze a spot of surfing in whilst you were in Cornwall, how do the waves there compare to those in Australia?
Funnily enough, Australians become very 'snobby' about waves, we have such good waves, when you travel to other countries, everyone always says that the waves are no good compared to what I'm used to! I live on the road so I don't get the chance to 'suss out' any great breaks so I don't class myself as a snob, I love all waves. We surfed a nice body-boarder wave in Porthlevan, we surfed Watergate Bay every day, Perranporth, Fistral (Newquay), we did a lot of surfing! We even surfed Brighton on Tuesday (7th Oct), there was a strong South Westerly blowing and it dropped for about an hour and we took full opportunity to get in there!
Tell me about the towelling bath robes in Scotland?
You just don't come across them that often, it was such a beautiful little town and we were blown away as they had towelling robes in this little hotel and we suddenly decided that we needed to get a photo of us wearing them, it's the kind of thing that makes life on the road 'fun' you know?
You spent your birthday in Edinburgh at the end of September, how was it and the big question, are you ever going to eat haggis again?
Yeah, I will have it again, my favourite kind was the deep fried stuff from the local chip shop
You used to be able to get a deep fried Mars Bar in Glasgow chip shops, did you sample one of them?
No, I never had one of them but I was told about them!
You did 3 shows in The Netherlands, did you get to 'sample' any of the delicacies whilst there?
Depends what the delicacies are!
Cheese, Tulips and Windmills obviously!
Oh yeah, lots of cheese, we stopped off in Amsterdam where I got my laptop stolen, it's an incredible city, I wouldn't want to be there for a long time, I loved it, for the interesting things we did there, I played a really nice cathedral, we went upto this surf town way up North and I really enjoyed it!
I saw a photo of you taken in Peru where it looks like you;re being photo bombed by a camel?
I was getting a Llama 'selfie', it was a nice up close shot, from that distance a camel and a Llama look very similar!
You have played at the legendary SXSW Festival in Austin Texas, how did this come about and which acts did you manage to check out whilst there?
The best thing i did there was to see Jack White playing in front of a tiny caravan, promoting his record label 'Third Man Records', I played the festival because I was just getting started in North America and it was the type of thing to do. I personally don't think that the festival is that constructive, it's an amazing experience, Austin is so much fun, for my career, the fact that there was 120,000 people there and every one is in a band.....
I think that SXSW is an excuse to send press and industry types out there to get wasted and have a good time?
But by god it was fun!
You supported Billy Bragg on his epic Tooth & Nail Tour, what did you learn from him?
So much, I think that he is the most inspiring, wise, gentlemen I have ever met, I learned how to treat people, how that someonee 35 years into their career does things. This is why he is selling out festivals and that his latest album is doing so well at the moment, he hasn't lost his touch and I just learned to 'exist' whilst on the road, he's such a professional person, working non stop and he loves it, he's not grinding himself into a stupor or anything. I learned how to handle illness on the road (especially the flu), there were shows in Germany where his voice was just totally wrecked and despite this, he was telling jokes about the fact that he was sick, he even dedicated the set to the Patron Saint Lou Reed who gave everyone who couldn't sing or play the guitar the chance to have a career in music!
You're coming to the end of your headline tour and are about to embark on a tour with Seth lake men, what are you looking forward to most about it?
Seth I think! I think that the entire world that surrounds him is wonderful and it's such a good thing to be a part of, I work closely with his management company as my booking agents so I already know his team really well and Seth invited me to come on his tour bus and share bunks with his crew, so yeah, I think it's Seth and his world that I am most looking forward to!
Then after the Seth tour, you you're heading off to Canada and Australia? That's a LOT of gigs between now and Christmas, do you find that you get 'swamped' with life on the road or do you manage to keep on top of it?
To be honest, you do get a bit swamped and you get a bit emotional and some days you have to work really hard to pick yourself up and keep going but the thing is, when you have no choice but to do that, you end up doing it really well! I don't know how people get 'up' normally, they manage to get themselves in the right mindset, like now, I've got to be up on that stage in 15 minutes and make sure that the people here have a truly wonderful time and that keeps me 'chipper' you know?
I see that you're playing on New Years Eve at the Falls Festival in Australia, what resolutions will you be making (and hopefully keeping) for 2015?
RELAX KIM, IT'S NOT THAT SERIOUS, that's my big one!
Have you made that one before and previously broke it?
Yep, I come to that conclusion every 6-7 months, working myself into an anxious wreck again, that's kind of it, Bob Dylan hit the nail on the head when he said "It's life and life only"!
You released your album Silence/Win on April 1st this year via CD and digital download, what are your views on vinyl and the recent resurgence of the trusty audio cassette?
I never even knew that the cassette had come back!
You ever heard of Record Store Day? well they just introduced Cassette Store Day and it has really started to take off!
So they're coming back, I can't say it surprises me, I think in general there are so many beautiful art forms that we have lost as we push forward, I love the new ones that come with the latest technology but I also love the fact that people are not letting these new art forms takeover and forcing the old ones to die, If I lived somewhere, I'd love to own a vinyl collection and I love the sound!
There's something about a record, holding it, reading the liner notes, placing the disc onto the platter, dropping the needle in the first groove, that crackle before the music kicks in, it's like a ritual!
Exactly! you can have your Kindle and read a hundred books on it but there's no substitute for picking up a proper book and holding it.
We'd like to thank Kim for sparing his time before the Exeter show to sit and chat to us and we wish him every success with the upcoming tour with Seth Lakeman and his Canadian /Australia dates afterwards.
Interviewer - Steve Muscutt