The Chills

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The Chills
The Chills (left to right): Justin Harwood, James Stephenson, Martin Phillipps, Andrew Todd, Oxford, United Kingdom, 1989
The Chills (left to right): Justin Harwood, James Stephenson, Martin Phillipps, Andrew Todd, Oxford, United Kingdom, 1989
Background information
Also known asA Wrinkle in Time, Martin Phillipps and the Chills
OriginDunedin, South Island, New Zealand
Years active
  • 1980–1983
  • 1984–1992
  • 1994–1996
  • 1999–present
  • Martin Phillipps
  • Todd Knudson
  • Erica Scally
  • Oli Wilson
  • Callum Hampton
Past memberssee Former members

The Chills are a New Zealand rock band that formed in Dunedin in 1980. The band are fronted by founding mainstay singer-songwriter, guitarist Martin Phillipps. During the mid-1990s they were billed as Martin Phillipps & the Chills. Their top ten studio albums in their homeland are Submarine Bells (1990), Soft Bomb (1992), Snow Bound (2018) and Scatterbrain (2021). The Chills were a cult band in other parts of the world as one of the earliest proponents of the Dunedin sound. Their top 20 singles are "Pink Frost", "Doledrums" (both 1984), "I Love My Leather Jacket" (1986), "Heavenly Pop Hit" (1990) and "Male Monster from the Id" (1992).


Early years and first breakup (1980–1983)[edit]

Founding mainstay Martin Phillipps on lead vocals and guitar, Wellington, March 2003

After the demise of the Same, one of the earliest punk rock bands in New Zealand, vocalist and guitarist Martin Phillipps started a new band, the Chills, in Dunedin in 1980. The Same had formed in 1978 with 15-year-old Phillipps on guitar before switching over to lead vocals.[5][6] The Chills' initial line-up included his sister Rachel Phillipps on keyboards and former the Clean frontman Peter Gutteridge on guitar, Jane Dodd on bass guitar and Alan Haig on drums.[6] Their first live performance was supporting Bored Games at Dunedin's Coronation Hall on 15 November 1980, after which Gutteridge departed.[6] By June 1981, Dodd and Rachel Phillipps had also left, leaving the Chills on hiatus.[5]

Martin Phillipps became an auxiliary member of the Clean, serving as their touring keyboardist and studio musician for their debut single "Tally Ho!" (1981).[5][6] The Chills reconvened in July 1981 with Haig and Phillipps joined by Fraser Batts on keyboards and Terry Moore (ex-Bored Games) on bass guitar.[5][6] They provided three tracks, "Kaleidoscope World", "Frantic Drift" and "Satin Doll", for a local various artists double-12" record, extended play, Dunedin Double (June 1982) via Flying Nun Records, marking their recording debut.[6][7] Other artists on the release Sneaky Feelings, the Stones, and the Verlaines, also had three tracks each.[8] The Chills issued a music video of "Kaleidoscope World".[6]

Just before the EP's appearance, Haig left to join the Verlaines, he was replaced by Martyn Bull on drums. Rachel Phillipps temporarily returned after Batts departed, prior to a tour of the North Island with the Clean, though she did not stay for the whole tour. For the remaining dates they performed as a trio; which recorded two singles, "Rolling Moon" (1982) and "Pink Frost" (1984). Andrew Schmidt of AudioCulture described their debut single as "sunny, summery, upbeat".[6] Their performances were paused when Bull was diagnosed with leukemia;[5] the band worked whenever Bull's health allowed from October 1982 to early 1984.[6] Peter Allison had joined on keyboards. In the meantime, Phillipps rehearsed with David Kilgour (of the Clean) in a group, Time Flies, though they never performed live. By June 1983, Haig re-joined the Chills on drums after Bull's leukemia became more severe; Martyn Stuart Bull died on 18 July 1983.[5][6] The band went into hiatus again, although Phillipps played solo gigs until the end of 1983.[7]

Reformation and international success (1983–1992)[edit]

By December 1983, they re-emerged under a new moniker, A Wrinkle in Time, with a line-up consisting of Allison, Haig, Phillipps and Martin Kean on bass guitar.[5][9] The name change was temporary, reverting back to the Chills by early the next year.[5] They undertook a Flying Nun-sponsored Looney Tour alongside label mates Children's Hour, the Expendables and the DoubleHappys.[6] Public perception developed that the Chills were a backing band for Phillipps – he was the sole mainstay throughout their line-up changes. "Pink Frost" (June 1984) reached the top 20 on New Zealand's singles chart.[10] It was followed by another single, "Doledrums" (1984) and their six-track The Lost EP (1985). The former peaked at number 12, while the latter reached number four in New Zealand.[10] The Lost EP peaked at number 31 on the UK Independent Chart[citation needed]. They played shows in London late in 1985.[5] A compilation album, Kaleidoscope World, appeared in March 1986, comprising their early recordings, which reached number three on the UK Independent Albums Chart[citation needed]. By October 1986, the line-up shifted to Phillipps, Caroline Easther (the Verlaines) on drums, Justin Harwood (ex-Coconut Rough) on bass guitar and Andrew Todd (ex-Smart Russians) on keyboard.[11]

Their next single, "I Love My Leather Jacket" (1986), reached number 25 on the UK Independent Singles Chart[citation needed] and number four in New Zealand.[10] Spurred on by UK chart success, they relocated to London in February 1987, prior to a five-week tour across Europe. In London, they worked with Mayo Thompson (of Red Krayola) on their debut studio album, Brave Words (1987), which reached the top 30 in New Zealand.[10][11] The band spent February through mid-December of that year promoting it by touring Europe, interspersed with four July dates in New York and Boston. A full North American tour occurred during 1988. In 1990, the band were signed to a worldwide record deal with Warner Brothers' imprint Slash Records in North America. Their second studio album Submarine Bells (1990) reached number one in New Zealand and provided their highest charting international single, "Heavenly Pop Hit".[10] It reached number 17 on the Billboard Alternative Airplay Chart;[12] it remains their only American chart appearance. For the group's third studio album, Soft Bomb (1992), Phillipps was joined by a new lineup of Mauro Ruby on drums, Lisa Mednick on keyboards and Steven Schayer on guitar and backing vocals. It peaked at number three in New Zealand; while its lead single, "The Male Monster from the Id", reached the top ten.[10]

Second reformation (1995–present)[edit]

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

Phillipps announced the disbandment of the Chills after the Soft Bomb Tour and joined Kilgour in a loosely organised 1960s covers band, the Pop Art Toasters, which released a self-titled EP in 1994. Shortly thereafter, that group broke up and Phillipps put together another the Chills lineup. The turnover of personnel is cited as a reason for the band's lack of consistent "saleability" and is referred to by local music press as "the Curse of the Chills".[13] A documentary of the same name regarding the history of Phillipps and the Chills was broadcast in 2016.[14]

The curse struck again with the recording of their fourth studio album Sunburnt in England, during August to September 1995. Two band members were refused entry into the UK, so Phillips recruited session musicians, Dave Mattacks (of Fairport Convention) and Dave Gregory (of XTC), who provided drum and bass guitar respectively. Guest keyboards were played by producer Craig Leon. It was issued in early 1996 under the name Martin Phillipps and the Chills.

The Chills split again with Phillipps joining another of Kilgour's bands, the Heavy Eights. Phillipps then recruited new the Chills members for live shows, which performed each year from 1997 on. During the late 1990s, Phillipps was incapacitated by hepatitis C infections, a side-effect of his drug addiction.[15] He released a solo album of home demos, Sketch Book: Volume One, in 1999; it had been recorded from 1988 to 1995. In 2000, Secret Box, a triple-CD box-set of the Chills' live tracks, demos, radio sessions and rarities was released.

An eight-track the Chills EP, Stand By was issued in 2004, the first all-new material in nine years. Phillipps's 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 that assurance, no new album appeared for over a decade. In May 2010 the Chills played two shows in Australia, their first outside New Zealand since 1996. Three years later, after another hiatus from recording, a lone the Chills track, "Molten Gold", was issued. It appeared on Phillipps' 50th birthday (2 July 2013) as a non-album single with a re-recording of "Pink Frost 13" as its B-side.[16]

In October 2015 the Chills issued Silver Bullets, their first studio album in 19 years. In February 2017 they released a cover version of David Bowie's 1970 song "Conversation Piece".[17] On 14 September 2018 they followed with their sixth studio album, Snow Bound.[18] Scatterbrain, their seventh studio album, was issued in May 2021.[4]

The Chills on film[edit]

The Chills have been the subject of documentaries, predominantly produced for New Zealand TV. In March 2019, The Triumph & Tragedy of Martin Phillipps, explored the history of the band and Phillipps' contemporary struggle with hepatitis C,[19] which was directed by Julia Parnell and Rob Curry and premiered at SXSW,[20] before being released theatrically in New Zealand and Australia. It was subsequently broadcast in New Zealand on Prime TV.


Current members[edit]

  • Martin Phillipps – lead vocals, guitar (1980–1983, 1984–1992, 1994–1996, 1999–present)
  • Todd Knudson – drums (1999–present)
  • Erica Scally – keyboards (2006–2010), violin (2010–present)
  • Oli Wilson – keyboards (2010–present)
  • Callum Hampton – bass guitar (2019–present)

Former members[edit]

  • Jane Dodd – bass guitar (1980–1981)
  • Peter Gutteridge – guitar (1980)
  • Alan Haig – drums (1980–1982, 1983, 1984–1986)
  • Rachel Phillipps – keyboards (1980–1981, 1982)
  • Fraser Batts – keyboards (1981–1982)
  • Terry Moore – bass guitar (1981–1983, 1984–1986, 1990–1992)
  • Martyn Bull – drums (1982, died 1983)
  • Peter Allison – keyboards (1983–1986)
  • David Kilgour – guitar (1983)
  • Martin Kean – bass guitar (1983–1984)
  • Justin Harwood – bass guitar (1986–1990)
  • Caroline Easther – drums (1986–1988)
  • James Stephenson – drums (1988–1991)
  • Steven Schayer – guitar (1992)
  • James Dickson – keyboards (1999–2006), bass guitar (2006–2019)



Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected details and selected chart positions
Title Details Peak chart
NZ[10] AUS[21]
Brave Words
  • Released: 7 January 1987
  • Label: Flying Nun (FN090)
Submarine Bells 1 90
Soft Bomb
  • Released: 19 March 1992
  • Label: Slash/Liberation (L30782)
3 99
(by Martin Phillipps and the Chills)
  • Released: 12 June 1996
  • Label: Flying Nun (FN303)
Silver Bullets
  • Released: 23 October 2015
  • Label: Fire (FIRECD382)
Snow Bound
  • Released: 14 September 2018
  • Label: Fire (FIRECD530)
  • Released: 14 May 2021
  • Label: Fire (FIRECD581)

Live albums[edit]

List of live albums with selected details
Title Details
Somewhere Beautiful
  • Released: 28 March 2013
  • Label: Fire (FIRECD298)

Compilation albums[edit]

List of compilation albums, with selected details and selected chart positions
Title Details Peak chart
Kaleidoscope World 19
Heavenly Pop Hits – The Best of The Chills
  • Released: 7 June 1994
  • Label: Flying Nun (FN306)
Secret Box – The Chills' Rarities, 1980–2000
(Limited private release only)
  • Released: 2000
  • Label: Definitive Music (DM001)
The BBC Sessions
  • Released: 2014
  • Label: Fire Records (FIRECD385)
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Extended plays[edit]

List of extended plays, with selected details and selected chart positions
Title Details Peak chart
Dunedin Double
(by the Chills, Sneaky Feelings, the Stones, the Verlaines)
  • Released: 7 November 1982
  • Label: Flying Nun (FNDUN01)
The Lost EP
  • Released: 7 January 1985
  • Label: Flying Nun (FNCOLD004)
Stand By
(expanded to full album 2014)
  • Released: 28 June 2004
  • Label: Flying Nun (MPM001)
Pyramid/When the Poor Can Reach the Moon
  • Released: 2016
  • Labels: Fire Records, Far South Records (FIRE436EP)
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


List of singles, with selected chart positions, showing year released and album name
Title Year Peak chart positions Album
NZ[10] AU[21] UK[24] US Alt
"Rolling Moon" 1982 26 Kaleidoscope World
"Pink Frost" 1984 17
"Doledrums" 12
"I'll Only See You Alone Again" 1986 Non-album single
"I Love My Leather Jacket" 4 Kaleidoscope World
"House with a Hundred Rooms" 1987 Brave Words
"Wet Blanket" 1988
"Heavenly Pop Hit" 1990 2 118 97 17 Submarine Bells
"Part Past Part Fiction"
"The Oncoming Day"
"Male Monster from the Id" 1992 8 Soft Bomb
"Double Summer"
"Come Home" 1995 33 Sunburnt
"Surrounded" 1996
"Dreams Are Free"
"Molten Gold" 2013 Non-album single
"America Says Hello" 2015 Silver Bullets
"Warm Waveform"
"When the Poor Can Reach the Moon"
"Rocket Science"/"Lost in Space" 2016 Non-album single
"Conversation Piece" 2017 Non-album single
"Complex" 2018 Snow Bound
"Lord of All I Survey"
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.



  1. ^ Shuker 2017, pp. 88–89
  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. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. The Chills at AllMusic. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Nimmervoll, Ed. "Martin Phillipps' Chills". HowlSpace: Music from Australia & NZ. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2023 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Schmidt, Andrew (28 April 2013). "The Chills - Person". AudioCulture. Archived from the original on 18 January 2022. Retrieved 5 December 2023.
  7. ^ a b Thompson 2000, p. 259
  8. ^ Brown, Russell (26 March 2014). "Dunedin Double". AudioCulture. Retrieved 5 December 2023.
  9. ^ Thompson 2000, pp. 259–260
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "The Chills discography".
  11. ^ a b Thompson 2000, p. 260
  12. ^ "Alternative Songs: The Chills". Billboard. Archived from the original on 10 September 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2023.
  13. ^ "Kaleidoscope World", Primavera Sound, 29 November 2022. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  14. ^ Malt, A., "New documentary explores The Curse of the Chills",, 6 July 2016. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  15. ^ Michael Hann (24 November 2014). "The Chills: The band who fell to earth". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  16. ^ "Amazon (US) product listing for 'Molten Gold'". Amazon. 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  17. ^ Eley, Laura. "The Chills Cover David Bowie's 'Conversation Piece' – Tidal Exclusive". Fire Records. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  18. ^ "The Chills - "Complex" & "Lord of all I Survey"". Stereogum. 3 July 2018. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  19. ^ "The Chills - The Triumph & Tragedy of Martin Phillipps". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  20. ^ "The Chills: The Triumph & Tragedy of Martin Phillipps". SXSW. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  21. ^ a b Australian (ARIA Chart) peaks:
  22. ^ "NZ Top 40 Albums Chart". Recorded Music NZ. 24 September 2018. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  23. ^ "NZ Top 40 Albums Chart". Recorded Music NZ. 10 May 2021. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  24. ^ "Official Charts > Chills". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 14 May 2016.


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]