“I‚Äôve always been a daydreamer,‚Äù Michael Spiby says, ‚Äúand that‚Äôs how I write songs. Things happen when I daydream ‚Äì magic things.‚Äù
Many magical things have happened during Michael Spiby‚Äôs musical life. And after fronting one of our most-loved bands, The Badloves, Michael is now focusing full-time on his solo career.
‚ÄúI can see why band members evolve into solo acts,‚Äù Michael states. ‚ÄúI feel the only way I can make music is to follow my own instinct, without compromise, and see what comes out.‚Äù
It promises to be an exciting future for an artist with a fascinating past.
The RocKwiz questions reveal plenty about the man who‚Äôs been acclaimed as one of our finest soul singers. First record bought: ‚ÄúChain‚Äôs Black And Blue single. I bought it so I could learn it on the guitar.‚Äù
First concert: ‚ÄúIt was Stylus, by default. My great-aunt had her birthday dinner at the Croxton Park Hotel. We were about to go home when a band started setting up, so we stayed for the show. At that stage, I had no intention of being a musician. But I remember dad‚Äôs remark: ‚ÄòLook how skinny their legs are ‚Äì you could be a musician, too.‚Äô‚Äù
Despite his dad‚Äôs advice, Michael actually set out to become a teacher. But his life changed one unforgettable day at Frankston Teachers‚Äô College. ‚ÄúI came out of a psychology lecture and heard a band soundchecking,‚Äù he recalls. ‚ÄúI stuck around for the gig and even though only about 20 people were there, they were just phenomenal. That gig instantly changed my career path.‚Äù
The band was Cold Chisel. Years later, Michael found himself in the Top 10 with Jimmy Barnes, with The Badloves and Barnesy‚Äôs classic cover of The Weight.
It was just one of many highlights for the band, who had a double platinum debut album, (featuring the singles Lost, I Remember, Green Limousine and Memphis), won three ARIA Awards, toured Australia with Lenny Kravitz, had The Seekers‚Äô legend Judith Durham drop into a recording session, toured Europe with Jimmy Barnes, and Michael had a backstage meeting with one of his heroes, Ray Charles.
The Badloves released just two studio albums‚Äì 1993‚Äôs Get On Board (which spent 69 weeks on the charts, peaking at number five) and 1995‚Äôs Holy Roadside (which went gold and reached number 14).
Michael remembers the band fondly, though adds: ‚ÄúThose years were so intense; it‚Äôs a bit of a blur. We just didn‚Äôt have any balance in our lives.‚Äù
Michael is now working to his own schedule.
He‚Äôs also been in the studio with Tasmania‚Äôs acclaimed Southern Gospel Choir, co-producing their second album, High On A Mountain.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm not religious,‚Äù Michael points out, ‚Äúbut I love gospel music. I like Phillip Adams‚Äô term: faitheist ‚Äì I believe in something, but it‚Äôs probably more the music than anything else.‚Äù
Michael laughs when he acknowledges that he‚Äôs rarely been fashionable. He says he spent the ‚Äô80s ‚Äúshaking my head, thinking, ‚Äòthere‚Äôs nothing here for me‚Äô‚Äù, admitting, ‚ÄúI just never felt at home‚Äù. Then The Badloves landed in a sea of grunge. Michael recalls industry people telling the band: ‚ÄúCan you just get a little more current?‚Äù But for Michael, it‚Äôs never been about chasing trends or having the right haircut. It‚Äôs all about the song.
‚ÄúI want to be taken somewhere,‚Äù he explains. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs the mood, not just the hook.‚Äù
The very first song that Michael wrote, Streets Of My Town, later appeared on his first solo album, 2000‚Äôs ARIA-nominated Ho‚Äôs Kitchen. ‚ÄúI had lots of songs half-finished, but that was the first time I felt that‚Äôs a song, it‚Äôs about something.‚Äù
Michael continues to search for meaning in his music, relishing the joy of creation.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve got a golden rule now,‚Äù he reveals. ‚ÄúIn the early days, I aspired to impress. But now I don‚Äôt let the editor into the room. It allows me to create what I want.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs taken me a long time to get to this stage.‚Äù
It‚Äôs an exciting time for one of Australia‚Äôs finest singers and songwriters.
‚ÄúFor me, it‚Äôs all about getting into that headspace ‚Äì daydreaming, creating,‚Äù Michael says, ‚Äúknowing that something will eventually be worthwhile in the real world.‚Äù
It‚Äôs all about the magic things.