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The Chills

The Chills were one of New Zealand's best and most popular bands of the '80s, making a small but consistent series of chiming, hook-laden guitar pop. Both the songs and the arrangements were constructed with interweaving guitar hooks and vocal harmonies, creating a pretty, almost lush, sound that never fell into cloying sentimentality. Throughout their existence, the band's personnel changed frequently -- there were more than ten different lineups -- with the only constant member being guitarist Martin Phillipps, the band's founder. Phillipps began playing music with the New Zealand punk band the Same in 1978. Following in the footsteps of the Clean and the Enemy, the Same played mostly covers, creating a raw fusion of British Invasion and garage rock. However, the group never recorded. Phillipps applied the same approach for the Chills, the band he formed in 1980 with his sister Rachel and Jane Dodd (bass) after the Same fell apart.

In 1982, the Chills signed with Flying Nun, the influential New Zealand independent record label, and released several singles that were never widely distributed in America and Europe. During this time, the group went through an enormous amount of members: future Great Unwashed bassist Peter Gutteridge, the Clean's David Kilgour, keyboardist Frazer Batts, bassist Terry Moore, guitarist Martin Kean, keyboardist Peter Allison, drummer Martyn Bull, and drummer Alan Haig. While these incarnations of the Chills recorded plenty of singles, they never made an album. Released on the U.K. record label Creation, the group's first album, Kaleidoscope World (1986), was a collection of early singles; it was later released in the U.S. on Homestead.

With the lineup of Phillipps, bassist Justin Harwood, keyboardist Andrew Todd, and drummer Caroline Easther -- the group's tenth lineup -- the Chills recorded their first proper album, Brave Worlds, in 1987. Produced by Mayo Thompson, the leading figure of the cult band the Red Crayola and a former member of Pere Ubu, the bandmembers weren't satisfied with the final result, claiming it was too loose and under-produced. The Chills, particularly Phillipps, were more satisfied with their second full-length album, 1990's Submarine Bells, their first record released on an American major label. Submarine Bells was recorded with yet another version of the band, with Jimmy Stephenson replacing Easther, who was suffering from tinnitus. The album was well-received by critics and college radio, yet it failed to break the band into the mainstream in either America or Britain. Two years later, they released Soft Bomb, which suffered the same fate as Submarine Bells.

The following year, Martin Phillipps broke up the Chills again, and spiraled into drug addiction, which led to some serious health issues. He never stopped making music though, and in 1996 released Sunburnt under the name Martin Phillipps & the Chills. The album featured Dave Mattacks of Fairport Convention and XTC's Dave Gregory on drums and bass, respectively. Phillipps joined David Kilgour's Heavy Eights band and continued to round up people to play the occasional Chills show, going so far as to record an EP, Stand By, in 2004. It would be 2013 before the Chills returned with any new music, which came in the form of a single song released online entitled "Molten Gold." Shortly after this song was released, a massive live recording entitled Somewhere Beautiful surfaced, capturing a 20-song set recorded at a New Year's Eve party in 2011. The next year a collection of BBC Sessions from the '80s was released, further stoking the desire of fans for new material. Finally, in 2015, Phillipps and a fairly long-running incarnation of the Chills (multi-instrumentalist Erica Scally, bassist James Dickson, keyboardist Oli Wilson, and drummer Todd Knudson) released Silver Bullets on Fire Records. The band played their first U.S. show in many years, appearing at 2016's N.Y.C. Popfest, then touring the U.K. and Europe. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Somewhere Beautiful

1. Night Of Chill Blue (LIve)

2. Wet Blanket (LIve)

3. Lost In Space (LIve)

4. Part Past Part Fiction (LIve)

5. I Think I'd Thought I'd Nothing Else To Think About (LIve)

6. House With A Hundred Rooms (LIve)

7. The Other (LIve)

8. Walk On The Beach (LIve)

9. Submarine Bells (LIve)

10. True Romance (LIve)

11. The Male Monster From The Id (LIve)

12. Pink Frost (LIve)

13. Soft Bomb, Part One (LIve)

14. February (LIve)

15. Matthew And Son (LIve)

16. Effloresce And Deliquesce (LIve)

17. Canterbury Go! (LIve)

18. Heavenly Pop Hit (LIve)

19. I Love My Leather Jacket (LIve)

20. Rolling Moon (LIve)

x

Track List: Heavenly Pop Hits

1. Heavenly Pop Hit

2. I Love My Leather Jacket

3. Doledrums

4. Double Summer

5. Oncoming Day

6. Rolling Moon

7. I'll Only See You Alone Again

8. Never Never Go

9. Wet Blanket

10. Pink Frost

11. Kaleidoscope World

13. House With A Hundred Rooms

14. Part Past Part Fiction

15. Male Monster From The Id

16. This Is The Way

x

Track List: Kaleidoscope World

1. Kaleidoscope World

2. Satin Doll

3. Frantic Drift

4. Rolling Moon

5. Bite

6. Flame Thrower

7. Pink Frost

8. Purple Girl

9. This Is The Way

10. Never Never Go

11. Don't Even Know Her Name

12. Bee Bah Bee Bah Bee Boe

13. Whole Weird World

14. Dream By Dream

15. Doledrums

16. Hidden Bay

17. I Love My Leather Jacket

18. The Great Escape

x

Track List: Submarine Bells

1. Heavenly Pop Hit

2. Tied up in Chain

3. The Oncoming Day

4. Part Past Part Fiction

5. Singing in My Sleep

6. I Soar

7. Dead Web

8. Familarity Breeds Contempt

9. Don't Be: Memory

10. Effloresce and Deliquesce

11. Sweet Times

12. Submarine Bells

Comments

Report as inappropriate
the Chills hmm interesting name and the music is interesting too it has promise..
Report as inappropriate
thelittlebar d
Love me some Chills.
Report as inappropriate
Great band, deserve to have broken into the big time but they wouldnt be the same if they had. No cloying sentimentali t y with the chills but lots of heavenly non-pop hits.
Report as inappropriate
Amazing group,what would my world be without the Chills?
Report as inappropriate
the bios come from allmusic - the best source for music info. do you actually expect people to continually update bio's for obscure bands? get a life
Report as inappropriate
who writes these POS bios? Thanks for leaving us up to 12 f***ing years ago. Did you fall asleep at the computer or something? Lame. and what the hell does "sound that never fell into cloying sentimentali t y " mean? Please get someone who can actually write *and* finish the job.

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