The Chills

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The Chills
The Chills (1989).jpg
The Chills in 1989
Background information
Origin Dunedin, New Zealand
Genres
Years active 1980–1983; 1984–1992; 1994–1996; 1999–present
Labels
Associated acts
Website www.thechills.band
Members
  • Martin Phillipps
  • James Dickson
  • Todd Knudson
  • Erica Scally
  • Oli Wilson
Past members

The Chills are a New Zealand rock band formed in Dunedin in 1980. The band is essentially the continuing project of singer/songwriter Martin Phillipps, who is the group's sole constant member. For a time in the 1990s, the act was billed as Martin Phillipps & The Chills. In the 1980s and 1990s, The Chills had some significant chart success in their homeland, and were a cult band in other parts of the world as one of the earliest proponents of the Dunedin sound.

History[edit]

Early years and first break-up (1980–1983)[edit]

Singer-songwriter Martin Phillipps formed The Chills in 1980 with his sister Rachel Phillipps on keyboards and Jane Dodd on bass after the demise of his punk band, The Same.[5] Also included in the initial line-up were guitarist Peter Gutteridge and drummer Alan Haig. Phillipps' earlier band, the Same, had formed in 1978 and performed alongside punk bands Toy Love and The Enemy.[5]

The Chills were initially signed by Flying Nun Records and were one of the four bands recorded for the Dunedin Double EP in 1982. By this time, the band consisted of Martin Phillipps, Alan Haig, keyboard player Fraser Batts and bassist Terry Moore. One of the tracks recorded, "Kaleidoscope World" became a signature song for the band's early years.

Rachel Phillipps returned (replacing Batts) and Martyn Bull took over from Haig on drums in time for the band's first single "Rolling Moon", which was a chart hit in 1983. However, Bull's sudden illness caused the band to then take a year off.

Reformation and international success (1984–1992)[edit]

After Bull's death in July 1983 (from leukaemia), the Chills changed their name to A Wrinkle in Time, as Phillipps was initially unwilling to continue performing under a name associated with his late friend. The name change was brief, and although the band performed under the alternative name, no recordings were produced under it.

Once the Chills name had been re-established, from this point forward The Chills were essentially a solo project spearheaded by Martin Phillipps, the band's lead singer and only songwriter. Band personnel turnover was near-constant, with The Chills going through over 20 different line-up changes with Phillipps as the only constant member. Members of the band from 1984 on have included Terry Moore, Alan Haig, Peter Allison, David Kilgour, Steven Schayer, Martin Kean, Justin Harwood, Caroline Easther, Jimmy James Stephenson, Jillian Dempster among others. Several of these musicians went on to further success in bands ranging from The Verlaines to Luna.

The band's first post-Wrinkle In Time release was the 1984 single "Pink Frost", which became the band's biggest hit to that time. It was initially recorded in 1982 by the three-piece band of Martin Phillipps, Terry Moore and Martyn Bull, before receiving new overdubs in 1984. This single was followed by the single (and #12 hit) "Doledrums", then a 6-song EP called The Lost EP. This EP did not feature any of the band's previous or future singles, and itself peaked at #4 on the New Zealand singles charts in 1985. The Chills undertook their first European tour that same year.

In 1986, the band issued the minor international hit "I Love My Leather Jacket", recorded at The Point Studio, by Danny Hyde.[6][7] "I Love My Leather Jacket" was dedicated to late drummer, Bull, who had bequeathed the said item of clothing to Phillipps in his will. The Chills finally released their first album, Kaleidoscope World, in 1986; the album was a compilation of various previously released singles, EP tracks and songs from the Dunedin Double EP.

The band released their first proper album, Brave Words, in 1987. The band spent most of 1987 (February through mid-December) promoting the album by touring Europe, interspersed with four July dates in New York and Boston. A full-fledged North American tour occurred in the fall of 1988; tour dates would be a regular part of the band's life for the next several years.

In 1990, the band were signed to a worldwide record deal with their music appearing on the Warner Brothers imprint Slash Records in North America. Their 1990 album Submarine Bells included their biggest international hit, the whimsically titled "Heavenly Pop Hit". The tune was also a hit in the US, as it charted at #17 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart; it remains their only American chart appearance. The group's follow-up album, 1992's Soft Bomb, featured a totally different Chills line-up (save for Phillipps), and spun off the hit "The Male Monster From The Id".

Second reformation (1995–present)[edit]

The Chills performing at a free concert in Dunedin Botanic Gardens, January 2013

Phillipps announced the dissolution of the Chills after the Soft Bomb tour, and joined David Kilgour in a loosely organized covers band known as The Pop Art Toasters, which released a self-titled EP in 1994. Shortly thereafter, though, the 'Toasters dissolved, and Phillipps put together another Chills line-up and resumed gigging.

This seemingly constant turnover of personnel is often cited as one of several reasons for the band's lack of consistent "saleability", and is referred to by the local music scene as "the curse of the Chills".[citation needed] The "curse" struck again with the recording of the album Sunburnt in England, in the summer of 1995. Two band members were refused entry into the UK, so session musicians had to be recruited at the last moment. Dave Mattacks of Fairport Convention and XTC's Dave Gregory provided drum and bass work for the album, with Phillipps the only other credited musician (aside from guest keyboards played by producer Craig Leon). This album was issued in early 1996 under the group name Martin Phillipps and The Chills.

After that the band again split, with Phillipps appearing in another one of David Kilgour's bands, the Heavy Eights. Nevertheless, Phillipps continued to recruit new Chills members for live shows, and played at least a few shows as The Chills every year from 1997 on. For much of the late 1990s, though, Phillipps was laid low with hepatitis C, a side effect of drug addiction problems.[8] He released an album of solo home demos (Sketch Book: Volume One) in 1999; the demos themselves dated from between 1988 and 1995. In 2000, a 3-CD box set of Chills live tracks, demos, radio sessions and rarities appeared, entitled Secret Box.

In 2004, an 8-song Chills mini-album called Stand By was issued, the first all-new Chills material in nine years. Phillipps' album liner notes promised:

I am preparing to take the band in quite a new direction on the next album. And on that we will begin work shortly.

Despite Phillipps' claim, however, no new Chills album appeared for over a decade.

In May 2010, the band played two shows in Australia, their first shows outside New Zealand since 1996. Three years later, after another 9-year hiatus from the recording studio, a single newly recorded Chills track called "Molten Gold" was issued. The track was a non-album 7” single with the re-recorded ‘Pink Frost 13’ as a B-Side, and was released on Martin Phillipps' 50th birthday (July 2, 2013).[9]

In October 2015, the band issued Silver Bullets, their first album-length release in 19 years.

In February 2017, the band released the David Bowie song "Conversation Piece".[10]

The band released Snow Bound its seventh album, on September 14, 2018.[11]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Title Details Peak chart
positions
NZ[12] AUS[13]
1987 Brave Words
  • Label: Flying Nun
  • Catalogue: FN090
24
1990 Submarine Bells 1 90
1992 Soft Bomb
  • Label: Slash/Liberation
  • Catalogue: L30782
3 99
1996 Sunburnt
  • Label: Flying Nun
  • Catalogue: FN303
25
1999 Sketch Book: Volume One (released as Martin Phillipps)
  • Label: Flying Nun
  • Catalogue: FN415
2013 Somewhere Beautiful (live album)
2015 Silver Bullets 12
2018 Snow Bound 9
[14]

Compilations[edit]

Year Title Details Peak chart
positions
NZ[12]
1986 Kaleidoscope World 19
1994 Heavenly Pop Hits - The Best of The Chills
  • Label: Flying Nun
  • Catalogue: FN306
24
2000 Secret Box - The Chills' Rarities, 1980-2000
(Limited private release only)
  • Label: Definitive Music
  • Catalogue: DM001
2014 The BBC Sessions
  • Label: Fire Records (UK)
  • Catalogue: FIRECD385
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

EPs[edit]

Year Title Details Peak chart
positions
NZ[12]
1982 Dunedin Double (various artists)
  • Label: Flying Nun
  • Catalogue: FNDUN01
1985 The Lost EP
  • Label: Flying Nun
  • Catalogue: FNCOLD004
4
1994 Pop Art Toasters
(’60’s covers project with David Kilgour)
  • Label: Flying Nun
  • Catalogue: FNCD288
2004 Stand By
  • Label: Flying Nun
  • Catalogue: MPM001
    (Expanded to full album 2014)
2016 Pyramid/‘When The Poor Can Reach The Moon
  • Labels: Fire Records, Far South Records
  • Catalogue: FIRE436EP
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Singles[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Album
NZ[12] AUS[13] UK[15] US
Alt
1982 "Rolling Moon" 26 Kaleidoscope World
1984 "Pink Frost" 17
"Doledrums" 12
1986 "I'll Only See You Alone Again" Non-album single
"I Love My Leather Jacket" (CD issue only) 4 Kaleidoscope World
1987 "House with a Hundred Rooms" Brave Words
1988 "Wet Blanket"
1990 "Heavenly Pop Hit" 2 118 97 17 Submarine Bells
"Part Past Part Fiction"
"The Oncoming Day" radio-only CD-single
1992 "Male Monster from the Id" 8 Soft Bomb
"Double Summer"
1995 "Come Home" 33 Sunburnt
1996 "Surrounded"
"Dreams Are Free" CD single
2013 "Molten Gold" Non-album single
2015 "America Says Hello" Silver Bullets
"Warm Waveform"
"When the Poor Can Reach the Moon"
2016 "Rocket Science/Lost In Space" Non-album single
2017 "Conversation Piece" Non-album single
2018 "Complex" Snow Bound
"Lord Of All I Survey"
"Scarred"
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Timeline of personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Roy Shuker (29 March 2017). Popular Music: The Key Concepts. Routledge. pp. 88–89. ISBN 9781138680920. 
  2. ^ Breihan, Tom (30 July 2015). "The Chills – "America Says Hello"". Stereogum. Retrieved 4 June 2017. 
  3. ^ Pelly, Jenn (2 July 2013). "Listen: New Zealand Band the Chills Share First New Single in More Than a Decade". Pitchfork. Retrieved 4 June 2017. 
  4. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. The Chills at AllMusic. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  5. ^ a b The Chills' bio on Billboard.com
  6. ^ Danny Hyde brainwashed.com - Retrieved: 14 December 2006
  7. ^ "Rupert Merton". Rupert Merton. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  8. ^ Michael Hann (24 November 2014). "The Chills: The band who fell to earth". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 November 2014. 
  9. ^ "Amazon (US) product listing for Molten Gold". 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-19. 
  10. ^ Eley, Laura. "The Chills Cover David Bowie's 'Conversation Piece' – Tidal Exclusive". Fire Records. Retrieved 5 January 2018. 
  11. ^ "The Chills - "Complex" & "Lord Of All I Survey"". Stereogum. 3 July 2018. Retrieved 3 July 2018. 
  12. ^ a b c d "The Chills discography". Charts.org.nz. 
  13. ^ a b Australian (ARIA Chart) peaks:
  14. ^ "NZ Top 40 Albums Chart". Recorded Music NZ. 24 September 2018. Retrieved 21 September 2018. 
  15. ^ "Official Charts > Chills". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 2016-05-14. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]