“It’s not about anything. Like all my songs, it’s a portal into your own mind where I give you a guided meditation. It’s a blank, abstract canvas for people to lose themselves in.”
— Steve Kilbey on Under the Milky Way
Written while Steve Kilbey and his then-girlfriend were visiting Kilbey’s mother in New South Wales, Under The Milky Way would go on to become The Church’s biggest hit. Ironically, the other members of the band didn’t care for the song and had to be pressured to include it on their album, Starfish.
As Kilbey later put it, after the song became a hit:
“It changed everything in our lives, it put me on a new level of temptation and opened more doors that maybe shouldn’t have been opened… and made a lot of money and so we did a lot of touring. But saying that, the guys in the band all hated each other and they all hated me. Instead of being grateful that I’d written this song which had dragged them into the spotlight they were sort of envious and miserable about it as well.”
Part of the problem is that audiences would show up to see Church play and then, once they had heard Under the Milky Way, they would promptly leave before the show was over. Eventually, the members of the band got so frustrated by what they called “Milky Way gigs” that they refused to play the song for several years in the 90s. I probably would have just played the song at the end of the show so the audience stayed for the whole show but still got what they wanted but I’m not a rock star.
Considering how much the band dislikes it, I almost feel guilty about liking Under The Milky Way. It is a really good song, though, and the video is a good fit.