Chillblains

Gary Steel conducts an email interview with Martin Phillipps of The Chills, because he prefers not to talk on the phone. One of NZ’s most important songwriters and band leaders, Phillipps’ story is a classic story of brilliance not necessarily turning into long-term commercial success. This candid Q&A paints a revealing, and at times harrowing picture of Phillipps and the troubles his career and life have faced. We thank him for his honesty.

Witchdoctor – Perhaps you could start by giving me a capsule description of what you’re getting up to these days? How is life, and are you planning any

musical activities/projects at the moment? If you are, is it likely to be called the Chills, or under another name, or your own?

The 2010 version of The Chills
The Chills in the late '80s

WELL – THAT’S FOUR QUESTIONS IN ONE, BUT I’LL SEE IF I CAN’T DO IT IN ONE REPLY:

CONCRETE MEASURES ARE IN PLACE TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF MY HEALTH AND EVERYTHING ELSE IS DEPENDENT UPON THIS.

A FRIEND HAS BEEN WORKING ON UP-GRADING MY RECORDING PROGRAMS ON MY MAC COMPUTER SYSTEM SO I’M NOW USING A MORE UP-TO-DATE PRO-TOOLS AND M-BOX SYSTEM AND, FINALLY, LEARNING HOW TO USE THEM.

IT MAY SEEM THAT I AM FURTHER BEHIND THAN MOST OF MY CONTEMPORARIES BUT I HAVE BEEN LOOKING OVER THE SHOULDERS OF ENGINEERS SINCE THE MID-TO-LATE EIGHTIES SO I ACTUALLY DO HAVE A REASONABLY GOOD GRASP ON WHAT IS INVOLVED – IT’S JUST THAT I NOW HAVE TO LEARN WHAT BUTTONS TO PUSH.

THIS SHOULDN’T BE TOO DIFFICULT BUT I KNOW I AM BY NO MEANS THE ONLY MUSICIAN OR CREATIVE PERSON WHO FINDS IT PROBLEMATIC WHEN I AM FORCED TO RAPIDLY, AND CONTINUALLY, SWAP FROM THE CREATIVE SIDE OF MY BRAIN TO THE MORE FUNCTIONAL SIDE.

STILL – I AM GETTING THERE AND I AM SORTING OUT THE MATERIAL THAT I HAVE BEEN RECORDING OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF DECADES ON CASSETTES, MICRO-CASSETTES, MINI-DISCS, REEL-TO-REEL TAPES, VIDEO CASSETTES ETC – MOST OF WHICH HAS NOW BEEN DIGITIZED SO THAT I CAN NOW SORT IT ALL INTO DIFFERENT CATEGORIES AND MUSICAL STYLES AND THEN, IN MANY, MANY CASES, COMPILE THE PARTS OF THE ACTUAL SONGS THEMSELVES! THAT’S IN CASES WHERE I HAVE ALREADY COME UP WITH THE FEW MAJOR PARTS FOR THE SAME SONG.

THERE ARE A LOT OF SONGS LIKE THAT AND THIS MEANS THAT THERE WILL BE MANY SONGS WHICH ARE ESSENTIALLY BROUGHT TO A SEMI-COMPLETE STAGE SIMPLY BY, AT LAST, HEARING ALL THE SEPARATE SECTIONS THROWN TOGETHER IN SOME SORT OF ORDER.

I HAVE NEVER STOPPED WRITING OR COMING UP WITH MUSICAL IDEAS OR VISUAL IDEAS OR CONCEPTS FOR FILMS OR ILLUSTRATIONS OR ALL KINDS OF THINGS.

MY PROBLEM WAS THAT I BECAME BOGGED DOWN WITH TRYING TO KEEP MY CAREER GOING IN THE ABSENCE OF A BAND, MANAGEMENT, A SUPPORTIVE RECORD LABEL, A LAWYER OR ANYONE (FAMILY AND FRIENDS) WHO COULD OFFER MORE THAN ENCOURAGEMENT.

AFTER TRYING TO SOLDIER ON THROUGH THE SET-BACKS (AS I HAD DONE THROUGHOUT THE EIGHTIES AND EARLY NINETIES) I FINALLY CRUMBLED UNDER THE WEIGHT OF THE WHOLE THING WHEN I REALISED THAT I WAS NO LONGER MOVING FORWARD AT EVEN A CRAWLING PACE – I WAS MOVING BACKWARDS.

THIS HAPPENED WHEN I TOOK ONE OF MY SONG-WRITING SABBATICALS IN CENTRAL OTAGO – SOMETHING WHICH HAS ALWAYS BEEN SUCH A CRUCIAL RELEASE FOR ME, BECAUSE IT IS NOT THE COMPLETION OF A STUDIO RECORDING OF ONE OF MY SONGS OR EVEN THE WONDERFUL BUZZ ONE GETS FROM PERFORMING IT LIVE THAT IS MY BIGGEST THRILL – IT IS THAT MOMENT WHEN I FINALLY HAVE IT DOWN ON TAPE, EVEN IN VERY ROUGH FORM, SO THAT IT NO LONGER EXISTS SOLEY IN MY HEAD; IT NOW EXISTS IN THE REAL WORLD!

BUT! WHAT HAPPENED IN CENTRAL OTAGO? MY PORTA-STUDIO’S “RECORD” BUTTON WAS JAMMED AND WOULD NOT GO DOWN! SO I TRIED MY STAND-BY – A SONY WALKMAN. AND, WHAT DO YOU KNOW? THE “RECORD” BUTTON WAS ALSO JAMMED AND WOULD NOT GO DOWN!

OK – I THOUGHT – LUCKILY I JUST PURCHASED A GHETTO BLASTER (WITH TWIN CASSETTE PLAYERS) – REMEMBER THAT THIS WAS IN THE MID-NINETIES – BECAUSE THEY ALWAYS HAVE A RECORDING MICROPHONE SOMEWHERE, DON’T THEY?

NOPE – NOT THIS ONE.

WELL – THAT LEFT ME WITH MY DICTAPHONE, BUT I THINK AT THIS POINT SOMETHING WENT SNAP IN MY HEAD AND I REMEMBER CRAWLING TO THE COUCH AND LIEING DOWN AND I THINK I STAYED THERE LOOKING AT THE T.V. FOR NEARLY TWO DAYS.

I HAVE NEVER BEEN QUITE THE SAME SINCE.

SOMEHOW MY BELIEF IN THE WORK ETHIC AND THE TRUTH IN WORKING, WORKING, WORKING AND IT MUST PAY OFF –  DEPARTED, AND IT WAS SOMETIME BEFORE I REALISED THAT, EVEN IF THAT WAS THE CASE, THEN ONE HAD TO KEEP MOVING FORWARD IF ONE WANTED ANYTHING TO HAPPEN AT ALL.

SADLY, DRUGS MOVED INTO THE PICTURE AT THAT STAGE AND I KNEW THAT I WAS TAKING A RISK USING THEM BUT I FOUND THAT I WAS NOT THE SORT OF PERSON WHO USES OPIATES TO BLOB OUT, I WAS ONE OF THOSE WHO GET HYPED UP AND GET INSPIRED AND GET THINGS DONE! I KNEW THAT IT WAS A GAMBLE BUT I THOUGHT I MIGHT WIN.

I DIDN’T.

I GOT ADDICTED TO OPIATES AND THINGS DIDN’T COME TOGETHER AS FAST AS I HAD HOPED THEY WOULD HAVE.

I GOT A SHORT-TERM JOB AT A LOCAL ARCHIVE WORKING ON THEIR MUSIC COLLECTION AND, WHAT DO YOU KNOW! I GOT HEPATITIS C JUST AS I STARTED WORK, SO I SOON HAD TO QUIT.

SINCE THEN IT HAS BEEN A BATTLE TO TRY AND FIND THE RIGHT PEOPLE TO PLAY MUSIC WITH AND HOW TO RECORD MY BASIC DEMO IDEAS – WITH ALL MY EQUIPMENT CRASHING, AND NO MONEY TO FIX OR REPLACE THEM.

I HAVE HAD CONSTANT PROBLEMS WITH MY HEALTH DUE TO HEP C (IT IS LIKE BEING MILDLY POISONED 24 HOURS A DAY) AND ALSO BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO COMPLETELY STOP DRINKING, WHICH IS OBVIOUSLY REALLY BAD FOR MY LIVER AS WELL. [INCIDENTALLY, THAT IS ONE OF THE THINGS WHICH IS CURRENTLY BEING DEALT WITH. WISH ME LUCK!]

THEN, IN LATE 1999, I WAS INTRODUCED TO DRUMMER TODD KNUDSON AND BASSIST RODNEY HAWORTH AND, SHORTLY AFTERWARDS IN 2000, I WAS APPROACHED BY JAMES DICKSON WHO JOINED AS KEYBOARDIST.

THIS LINE-UP HAS BEEN STABLE UNTIL A FEW YEARS AGO WHEN RODNEY LEFT, JAMES TOOK OVER ON BASS AND WE WERE FORTUNATE TO DISCOVER THE WONDERFULLY TALENTED ERICA STICHBURY WHO PLAYS KEYBOARDS/VIOLIN/GUITAR AND SINGS.

THIS MAKES IT THE ONEST LASTING CHILLS LINE-UP EVER, IN A WAY.

ERICA HAS BEEN WORKING IN SAN FRANCISCO FOR THE LAST YEAR OR SO AND WE HAVE HAD A REMARKABLE YOUNG MUSICIAN, OLI WILSON, FILLING IN FOR HER.

OLI HAS HIS OWN BAND CALLED ‘KNIVES AT NOON’ WHO ARE STARTING TO DO VERY WELL AND WE THOUGHT IT WAS APPROPRIATE TO TAKE HIM TO DO THE TWO AUSTRALIAN DATES AND ALSO GET ERICA TO COME OVER FROM SAN FRANCISCO SO WE CAN DO A VERY EXCITING FIVE-PIECE VERSION OF THE CHILLS FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE WE HAD L.A. GUITARIST STEVEN SCHAYER ON GUITAR FOR THE ‘SOFT BOMB’ TOUR IN 1992! (ALTHOUGH THE VERY FIRST CHILLS ALSO HAD A FIFTH MEMBER WITH CO-FOUNDER PETER GUTTERIDGE, ALSO ON GUITAR AND VOCALS!).

I ALWAYS INTEND TO USE THE NAME THE CHILLS BECAUSE IT WOULD BE CRAZY TO HAVE PUT SO MUCH WORK INTO ESTABLISHING THAT BRAND AND THEN DISCARD IT, ALTHOUGH I HAVE THOUGHT THAT THERE ARE SOME SONGS OR SOME PROJECTS WHICH COULD NEVER BE BAND CONCEPTS SO THAT I REALLY SHOULD DO THEM AS SOLO PROJECTS OR IN COLLABORATION WITH OTHER ARTISTS.

WD – It’s blindingly clear to real music fans that you’re one of the real NZ rock legends/icons. But I wonder if there’s enough acknowledgment/kudos or financial reward? To clarify, it seems to me that an artist

of your stature in the UK or the States (or even Australia) would be held up as a living monument. Do you think Kiwis have a problem with honouring our music heroes?

MOST COUNTRIES HAVE TROUBLE RECOGNISING THEIR OWN TALENTS INITIALLY. YOU KNOW THE QUOTE ABOUT “A PROPHET IN HIS OWN COUNTRY” OR WHATEVER IT IS.

NEW ZEALAND, BEING A SMALL COUNTRY, MAY BE A LITTLE MORE PRONE TOWARDS THOSE KIND OF ATTITUDES AND INDICATIONS ARE NOW THAT WE ARE GOING ALL-OUT TO BECOME ONE OF THE MOST UN-EDUCATED COUNTRIES IN THE, SUPPOSEDLY, EDUCATED WESTERN WORLD.

TOO MANY PEOPLE. AMD TOO MANY CULTURES, IDENTIFY EDUCATION WITH LEARNING A LOT OF USELESS KNOWLEDGE AS OPPOSED TO THE REALITY WHICH IS THAT LEARNING HELPS YOU TO USE YOUR MIND LIKE ANOTHER MUSCLE AND YOU DISCOVER THE INCREDIBLE WORLD WE LIVE IN AND ALSO ALL THAT INFORMATION WHICH MAKES FOR SUCH AN EXCITING AND RICH EXISTENCE.

I BELIEVE THAT YOU WILL FIND THIS DULLNESS OF MINDS AT THE BOTTOM OF NEARLY ALL OUR SOCIAL PROBLEMS AT THE MOMENT – WHETHER IT IS VIOLENCE TOWARDS WOMEN OR CHILDREN OR STUPID DRUNKEN BEHAVIOUR WHICH IS LATER BLAMED ON THE ALCOHOL ITSELF.

IN ALL OF THE COUNTRIES I HAVE VISITED (NINETEEN OF THEM SO FAR) I HAVE HEARD LOCAL ARTISTS SAY THAT THEY HAVE TO LEAVE THEIR HOME-LAND AND COME BACK FROM ELSEWHERE WITH GLOWING ACCOLADES BEFORE THEY ARE TAKEN SERIOUSLY IN THEIR OWN LANDS. THIS EVEN HAPPENS IN AMERICA WHERE, SURPRISINGLY, THEY STILL RESPECT THE BRITISH AND EUROPEAN MEDIA ENOUGH TO CHANGE THEIR MINDS ABOUT VARIOUS LOCAL ARTISTS. THIS MAY HAVE CHANGED NOW AS IT IS SOME TIME SINCE I WAS IN TOUCH WITH THOSE SCENES.

WD – You’ve been responsible for so many great songs, and really quite a sustained period of musical activity, but so few of those songs are currently available. Hopefully that will be put to rights to Flying Nun’s reactivation. Are you planning to remaster and re-release the

Chills catalogue?

WEHAVE ALWAYS TALKED ABOUT COMPLETELY RE-MIXING AND RE-MASTERING THE FIRST FULL CHILLS’ ALBUM, ‘BRAVE WORDS’, BECAUSE WE DIDN’T DO A GOOD JOB WITH THE MIX AND THEN THERE WERE PROBLEMS WITH THE MASTERING OR THE PRESSING.

APART FROM THAT, I WOULD HOPE THAT ALL OF OUR ALBUMS CAN BE RE-ISSUED IN A FORM SUITABLE TO THE EVER-CHANGING TECHNOLOGICAL CLIMATE – ALONG WITH SO MUCH OF THAT HUGE, WONDERFUL LIBRARY OF EXTRAORDINARY MUSIC WHICH MAKES UP THE FLYING NUN RECORDS CATALOGUE!

WD – What are the highlights to you of your time with the Chills? Do you see a lot of great moments, or is it all tarnished by the not-so-great things?

I FIND THAT AS I GROW OLDER I GET STRANGE FLASHES OF EMOTION WHEN I SUDDENLY RECALL A MOMENT FROM MY PAST IN THE CHILLS OR FROM OTHER OCCURRENCES WHEN I WAS YOUNGER. THEY CAN BE BOTH PLEASING AND ALSO A BIT PAINFUL. IT IS THE STRANGEST THING TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE BY NO MEANS A YOUNG PERSON ANYMORE AND THE TRANSITION WAS NOT A PLEASANT EXPERIENCE AT ALL FOR ME. I CAN THANK A NUMBER OF PEOPLE – PARTICULARLY SOME OF THE  NEW, “HOT YOUNG BANDS” FOR MAKING IT CONSIDERABLY WORSE THAN IT WOULD HAVE BEEN AS A NECESSARY LIFE EXPERIENCE.

LIFE DOES SPEED UP. THEY DON’T TELL YOU THAT AT SCHOOL. I STILL HAVE TO MAKE MUSIC BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT I DO – PERHAPS THAT IS WHAT I AM HERE FOR – BUT I CAN NEVER AGAIN PRETEND TO HAVE THAT SAME YOUTHFUL DRIVE AND THE BELIEF THAT WHAT WE ARE ALL DOING IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO SOME BIGGER MOVEMENT… OR WHATEVER.

I LOST SOME IMPORTANT PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS IN MY DETERMINATION TO “KEEP ON GOING – NO MATTER WHAT!”

IT ALL SEEMED SO IMPORTANT, PLUS I THOUGHT I WAS DOING IT TO ALSO SECURE A SAFE AND COMFORTABLE HOME FOR MY PARTNER AND OUR FAMILY. NOW IT SEEMS VERY UNLIKELY THAT I COULD EVER HAVE A FAMILY AND THIS IS SOMETHING THAT WILL CONTINUE TO HURT.

BUT I HAVE ALSO USED THE DARKER TIMES TO LEARN AND READ AND READ AND RESEARCH AND WATCH GREAT MOVIES AND GENERALLY PREPARE MYSELF FOR WHATEVER IS REQUIRED OF ME IN THIS NEXT PHASE OF CREATIVITY.

THOSE WHO HAVE SEEN THE CHILLS PERFORM OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS KNOW THAT WE ALWAYS DELIVER A VERY STRONG SHOW AND I DON’T HAVE TO PUT ON AN ACT TO BRING FORTH ALL THAT EMOTION – IT IS STILL THERE JUST WAITING.

THE NEW MATERIAL IS NOW REALISTICALLY AND PHYSICALLY CLOSER THAN IT HAS EVER BEEN AND SOON WE WILL HAVE A VERY EXCITING, NEW LOOK AT THE CHILLS. I CAN’T WAIT.

WD – I know this is a difficult question, but could you try to explain in a nutshell “what went wrong” with the Chills’ career? And could it have

gone any other way?

WE SIGNED WITH SLASH RECORDS BECAUSE WE WERE ASSURED THAT WARNER BROTHERS WOULD PICK UP THE OPTION TO WORK ON THE CHILLS – AN OPTION THEY HAD WITH ANY BAND ON SLASH RECORDS, WHICH WAS A SUBSIDIARY LABEL OF WARNERS.

WARNERS DID PICK UP THE OPTION.THEY SAID THAT THEY SAW THE CHILLS AS THE SORT OF BAND TO DEVELOP OVER SIX OR SEVEN ALBUMS.

THEY DROPPED US AFTER ONLY TWO. WE STILL HAD SLASH RECORDS BUT THAT WAS LIKE TRYING TO WORK THE ENTIRE UNITED STATES WITH A LABEL NO BIGGER THAN FLYING NUN RECORDS.

WARNERS HAD DROPPED US BECAUSE ALL OF THE BIG LABELS WERE DROPPING AT LEAST A QUARTER OF THEIR ARTISTS AT THE TIME – IT WAS THE FIRST SIGN OF THE HUGE CHANGES THAT WERE HAPPENING TO THE MUSIC INDUSTRY.

SALES WERE DROPPING DRASTICALLY, PEOPLE WERE COPYING C.D.’S.

AND NIRVANA HAD COME ALONG, ALSO, SO THE CHILLS SOUNDED LIKE OLD GUYS – ALTHOUGH WE KNEW THAT WE HAD DOME OUR YOUTHFUL ADOLESCENT OUT-POURING OF ANGST AT LEAST A DECADE EARLIER, AND WE WERE NOW LOOKING AT DIFFERENT KINDS OF MUSICAL EXPLORATION.

WARNERS WERE ALSO WORRIED ABOUT THE NUMBER OF BAND MEMBERS THAT HAD COME AND GONE DURING THE CHILLS’ HISTORY AND ALSO THE ALTERCATION BETWEEN MYSELF AND GAVIN MacKILLOP (WHO PRODUCED THE SECOND ALBUM ON WARNERS, ‘SOFT BOMB’).

BUT ACTUALLY THERE WERE MANY REASONS WHY ALL OF THOSE BAND MEMBERS LEFT THE BAND AND IT WAS NOT BECAUSE I WAS AN ARSEHOLE – A BIT NAIVE PERHAPS – BUT I KNOW I NEVER TRIED TO HURT ANYONE.

ALSO, IF I HAD STAYED ON IN L.A. OR NEW YORK OR EVEN LONDON I KNOW THAT MY CAREER WOULD HAVE BEEN VERY DIFFERENT – BUT I FELT DEEP DOWN THAT I NEEDED TO BE IN TOUCH WITH NEW ZEALAND BECAUSE IT HAS ALWAYS FELT LIKE A PLACE WHERE I RE-CHARGE AND WHERE I TRULY GET INSPIRED. I DON’T LIKE THE IDEA OF WHAT DIRECTION MY MUSIC MIGHT HAVE TAKEN IF I HAD NOT COME HOME. IT MIGHT HAVE WORKED OUT FINE BUT I CHOSE TO FOLLOW MY INSTINCTS.

A FEW YEARS AGO I WAS EXTRAORDINARILY LUCKY TO BE INTRODUCED TO MY PRESENT MANAGER, SCOTT MUIR, WHO HAS SUBSEQUENTLY HELPED ORGANISE ALL MY AFFAIRS AND THE CHAOS IN MY PERSONAL WORLD AND ALL SORTS OF THINGS. HE IS A VERY HANDS-ON KIND OF PERSON AND I REALLY HAD REACHED A POINT WHERE I WAS FLOUNDERING AROUND LIKE A DROWNING MAN. I AM FORTUNATE TO HAVE HIS SUPPORT AND I ALSO NOW HAVE A GREAT LAWYER AND ACCOUNTANT AND A BAND WHO BELIEVE IN ME – PLUS THE SUPPORT OF FRIENDS AND FAMILY WHO HAVE STOOD BY ME THROUGH SOME VERY DARK AND TROUBLED TIMES.

IT TRULY LOOKS AS IF IT ABOUT TO BEGIN PAYING OFF – BUT, BY GUM, IT SCARES ME TO SAY THAT!

I WILL TOUCH WOOD AND PRAY THAT EVERYTHING CONTINUES TO MOVE FORWARD BUT ONE CAN NEVER TELL.

WHAT IF OUR CRUCIAL EUROPEAN TOUR HAD BEEN BOOKED RIGHT NOW!? AND A BLOODY VOLCANO BLOWS UP!!

WD – It seems to me that NZ (and particularly Dunedin!) has produced a uniquely literate, aware group of singer-songwriters who have a real grasp of rock’s history and mythology (people like yourself, Mr Downes

and Mr Carter spring to mind). Is this accurate, or have you found it to be true everywhere in your travels?

I AM OFTEN SURPRISED BY HOW WELL-SPOKEN SOME OF MY PEERS ARE – ESPECIALLY COMPARED TO SOME OF THE YOBBOES WE MET IN THE U.S.A. OR, MORE OFTEN, IN THE UNITED KINGDOM!

WAS IT BECAUSE DUNEDIN IS A UNIVERSITY CITY? I DON’T THINK SO – MOST OF THE KEY PEOPLE DIDN’T GO TO UNIVERSITY.

SOMETIMES I WONDER IF IT IS BECAUSE WE ALL HAD A REAL DRIVE TO CREATE AND THAT IT WASN’T SOME “NEW ZEALAND IDOL” IDEA OF BECOMING “FAMOUS!” – WHICH IS A VERY REAL FACTOR FOR SOME OF THOSE WHO COME FROM MUCH HARSHER BACKGROUNDS THAN WE HAVE EXPERIENCED HERE.

AFTER ALL – MOST OF US WERE JUST MIDDLE-CLASS KIDS LOOKING TO HAVE SOME FUN REBELLING AND MAKING MUSIC, OR ART, OR MOVIES OR WHATEVER. MOST OF US WOULD HAVE ALSO BEEN FAIRLY WELL-READ AS CHILDREN – OR AT LEAST INTRODUCED INTO THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF BOOKS, WHICH IS OFTEN THE FIRST STEP TO SOME KIND OF ENLIGHTENMENT WITHIN ONES MIND.

(SORRY IF THAT SOUNDS POMPOUS BUT I RECKON IT’S PRETTY MUCH TRUE).

IN MANY PLACES OVERSEAS THEY MIGHT ONLY HAVE THAT ONE CHANCE AT MAKING MUSIC OR WHATEVER SO THEY HAVE TO TAKE IT VERY SERIOUSLY AND IN A MUCH MORE COMPETITIVE MANNER THAN WE ARE GENERALLY USED TO HERE IN COZY OLD NEW ZEALAND!

THEY ARE NOT EDUCATED EVEN TO THE BASIC SCHOOL LEVEL THAT WE WOULD TAKE FOR GRANTED AND THEY ARE HARDENED AND DESPERATE AND PREPARED TO DO A LOT MORE TO SUCCEED THAN WE WOULD EVER DARE.

MAYBE I AM JUST ROMANTICISING, BUT I DON’T THINK SO.

WD – I’ve often felt that Shayne somehow ran the risk of running too close to the flame, in the sense that he’s so intoxicated by troubled icons (in his case Elvis, Marvin Gaye, et al). I could be wrong, but have always thought of you as running the gauntlet with your own set of troubled geniuses (Brian Wilson, Syd

Barrett, Alex Chilton, et al). Please correct me if I’m wrong!

THERE IS A SONG I RELEASED ON THE ALBUM, ‘SOFT BOMB’, CALLED ‘SONG FOR RANDY NEWMAN ETC’ WHICH IS ABOUT THE KIND OF ARTISTS AND MUSICIANS WHO ARE DRIVEN TO MAKE THEIR ART REGARDLESS OF THE CONSEQUENCES AND THE PROBABLE LACK OF REMUNERATION. THESE PEOPLE HAVE ALWAYS IMPRESSED ME AND I CERTAINLY FELT THAT I WAS IN THAT COMPANY – BUT I WILL STRESS AGAIN AND AGAIN!!… THIS DOES NOT MEAN IN THE QUALITY OF MY OUTPUT, SIMPLY IN THE ATTITUDE THAT IT TAKES TO KEEP ON GOING.

MARTIN PHILLIPPS

THE CHILLS

DUNEDIN, NZ

17 APRIL 2010

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