Blogging the Dark Side

The Time Being is the blog of Australian musician Steve Kilbey, of the Church (if you know one Church song it’s “Under the Milky Way” from the mid 1980s). Since his brush with stardom with that single, Kilbey has had a rough go of things, including heroin addiction and a stint in prison on account of it. But he’s been back on his feet, recording, touring, being a doting husband and parent. And, let us not forget, blogging.

I wrote a while ago about Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Doll’s blog, which is an amazing piece of diary meets performance art, but Kilbey may have her beat. His entries are all in free verse, very heavy on the disclosure — especially of discomfort, sadness, all that bad stuff — and he weaves a prolific web of hazy autobiography and feeling that reaps dozens of comments on each entry.

For instance, here’s how he writes about trying to choose a name for a new record company in a section of a longer entry:

images :
driving thru the weird dry country
thru charming little hamlets (dahlings)
arguing about the name of our new record company
i musta thorta million names
i was saying the bloody street signs in the end
bing bing bypass records i’d hopefully suggest
after some real corkers like illumination records
had been given the thumbs down
um reduce speed records…
i got it
slow records!
no no
wombat mill records…cmon its….!
hours n hours later
every thing that everybody said
had records put on the end
why cant we call it fucked if i know records?
i dunno killa what do you think records?
hey do you know which way it is records?
sorry not me records?
i thought you listened to the guy records
etc etc records
its hard to stop once youve started records
and occaisionally this method does throw up some good ones
but itll just get shouted down in the tumult records
so only do this method by yourself
its not good to let em all in on yer secret source of material
but if ya keep yer eyes n ears truly open, lieblings
then youll find it everywhere
i promise you
yes i do

What’s amazing about it is how prolific he is, how well he builds relationship with his readers — creating an intimate environment of his own that they get to participate in by reading and commenting — and how willing to disclose he is, and, maybe most of all, how up front he is in writing about heroin and living as a recovering addict and trying so hard to disuade others:

i woke up early
the world seemed hyper real and hyper ugly
everything threatened me
or filled me with a vague fear or dismay
i felt so sad n hopeless
the world seemed black
this must be the world of the depressed person
oh pray you never have to visit here
everything hurts you
the sweetest melody
the touch of sunlight
the caress of water
the smell of clean food
everything is gross n disgusting
and my legs ached
and my arms ached
an awful awful awful ache
and my stomach was nauseated in every way
and i couldnt sleep at all anymore
sleep eluded me
and i was left up n alone
thru wee small hours that went on for ever
and all the time i knew that
one little sniff and itd all go away
and sure enough thats what i did
and it did
and then i was hooked
and it went on hooking me in deeper n deeper
and every habit was worse than the last one
yeah i tried to stop
and occaisionally succeeeded in stopping
from time to time
but always enticed back
never could resist a bit more
then i started shooting the stuff

You really can’t do justice to this blog with excerpts, you have to see the whole thing day in and day out to really get the effect of what Kilbey is creating here. It’s not for everyone, but it’s amazing. And so are the comments, for instance, some of what people say in response to the full heroin post excerpted just above:

well, yes. my brother Mikey just got outta rehab, this was his second trip, but for cocaine. he was calling me at 2 or 3 in the morning to tell me that the little people were in the ceiling and under the furniture, spying on him, so he couldn’t sleep.(I guess I told him one too many bedtime stories, and they all lodged upstairs in his brainpan, waiting.) Then the crazy violence, and of course all the extras you mention. my entire family (we can’t agree on much)got together for an intervention & I was the lucky sod they sent upstairs to drag Mikey outta his room by the hair. I think he is doing better this time. I love my brother. I hope he is ok.

Steve…I’ve never used at all…so I can’t understand the pain and horror. But I have lived life and I feel like I know a little about the strength of human spirit, hope and life….yours must be truely heroic. I hope and pray that all you want now is the pleasure of your muse, the love of your family and the awe of your true believers coursing through you everyday.

i guess most people have a story of sorts that they can relate to this one. i’ve never done anything like that, but i did have a husband that was such a fucking bastard that i began drinking heavily to “get away”…..and then i finally realized i wasn’t getting away anywhere but to even further down the hell hole, so i stopped. wasn’t easy, but just the same. our divorce was nasty, but not as difficult as putting down that bottle and not taking another drink.

like i said~~you’re an inspiration, steve. to have gone through that horror and come out the other side of the long, dark tunnel is amazing, to say the least. i’m glad you made it.

It’s almost like the music is the excuse for writing the blog, which has a life of its own.

Comments (1) to “Blogging the Dark Side”

  1. I think SK’s stint in prison was limited to overnight after his 1999 heroin bust in NYC.

    It is an amazing blog though (not only the serious stuff — SK has a wicked sense of humour). I think I would read even if he made no more music (not that I think that is likely).