Every day in May, to mark NZ Music Month, Gary Steel presents something local from his considerable behind. Personal archive, that is. Today’s surprise item?
First published in the Evening Post, October 1986.
Chills’ Phillips Shares Solo Bill With Knox
THE LEADER OF New Zealand’s most successful unhyped band The Chills – Martin Phillipps – is to perform one half of a solo double act in Wellington this weekend, with ex-Toy Love loony and sometime local legend Chris Knox.
Phillipps says the solo stint will turn into double trouble for a few songs at the end, but the main reason he’s doing the tour is that there are “a lot of really old songs, and a few new ones, that I haven’t had a chance to play.”
“I want to try out some new songs, and get back a bit of confidence,” says Mr Shy himself. “It’s quite different getting up on stage by yourself,” he says of the performance experience.
The solo show is a way of “keeping things going” until the reactivated Chills take to the boards. His band fell apart immediately after a successful English tour late in 1985, and this was capped off by the recent departure of band regular Terry Moore, who “wasn’t feeling fulfilled in a band context. He is getting into a lot of production work.”
Phillipps has spent much of the year looking for “really special people” for the new-look Chills. “People who look at it as a career are professional, but still have spark. I’ve seen a lot of good people, but I’m looking for magic.”
Meanwhile, the recently released Chills compilation album, Kaleidoscope World, is keeping up interest, and there will soon be a new single, a song called ‘The Great Escape’, recorded live, which Phillipps has “stuck vocals and guitar on.” The b-side is stage rave ‘Love My Leather Jacket’, which was recorded in England and remixed in New Zealand.
“I believe that’s a world first,” says Phillipps. The song was remixed because the English sound was too “synthetic, too light.”
Phillipps has “written a lot of music” this year, but “I’m having a lot of trouble with lyrics. There are a lot of songs sitting around waiting for lyrics.”
Otherwise, “I’ve been going through old cassettes, and we’ll probably do an ‘oddities’ cassette like The Clean.”
When a new Chills does eventuate, there’s a legendary fellow called John Cale who has expressed an interest in producing it. For the meantime, Phillipps reckons he is returning to Britain at Christmas, with or without a band. GARY STEEL
* Martin Phillipps and Chris Knox play The Cricketers on Friday and Saturday.
Note from the author: It’s strange going back this far to read about one of the Chills’ many permutations/pauses, and Martin’s quest for “magic”. It’s great that they did get some international action, even if they never did quite crack it like they wanted to.
* Don’t forget to check out www.audioculture.co.nz after May 31, where you’ll find a vast repository of NZ music history.