The Chills are a guitar and keyboard-based rock band from Dunedin, New Zealand. In the 1980s and 1990s, they were one of the proponents of the Dunedin Sound.

History

Singer-songwriter Martin Phillipps formed The Chills in 1980 with his sister Rachel Phillipps and Jane Dodd on bass after the demise of his punk band, The Same. Phillipps' earlier band, the Same, formed in 1978 and performed alongside punk bands Toy Love and The Enemy. The Same also included Craig Easton, Paul Baird, Jeffrey Batts, Gaynor Propsting among others.

The Chills went on to go through over 20 different line-up changes with Martin Phillipps as the only constant member. Members of the band over the years have included Peter Gutteridge, Alan Haig, Fraser Batts, Terry Moore, Martyn Bull, Peter Allison, David Kilgour, Steven Schayer, Martin Kean, Justin Harwood, Caroline Easther, Jillian Dempster among others. Several of these musicians went on to further success in bands ranging from The Verlaines to Luna.

This seemingly constant turnover of personnel is 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". It reached its most extreme case with the recording of the album Sunburnt in England. Since two band members were refused entry into the UK, session musicians had to be recruited at the last moment (Dave Mattacks and XTC's Dave Gregory provided drum and bass work for the album).

Another reason for the Chills' inconsistent output is Martin Phillipps' health. For much of the 1990s, he was laid low with hepatitis, a side effect of his then drug addiction problems. In the past few years his health has greatly improved and his addictions are behind him; and the Chills are now back recording for the first time in many years.

Initially signed by Flying Nun Records and one of the four bands recorded for the Dunedin Double EP in 1982, the Chills' output has been sporadic, largely due to lack of funding. Early tracks and singles to catch the public attention included "Kaleidoscope World" and "Rolling Moon", but it was 1984's "Pink Frost" that first made a chart impression in their native land. "Pink Frost" was recorded as a three piece Martin Phillipps, Terry Moore and Martyn Bull in Auckland at the Lab Studios by Doug Hood. This was followed by "Doledrums", and then the minor international hit "I Love My Leather Jacket", recorded at The Point Studio, by Danny Hyde. "I Love My Leather Jacket" was dedicated to late drummer, Bull, who had bequeathed the said item of clothing to Phillipps in his will.

Bull's death (from leukaemia) led to the Chills changing 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, though they did perform live under the alternative name. No recordings were released as A Wrinkle in Time.

Despite their singles successes, it was not until 1987 that the band's first album Brave Words was released. Several more albums (including a compilation of the early singles) were released during the late 80s and early 90s, before the band called it quits in 1993. During this period the band produced three albums, which included memorable songs such as "Submarine Bells" and "Rain", as well as their biggest hit, the accurately 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.)

Three years later, a reformed band (under the name Martin Phillipps and The Chills) released one further album, but after that the band again split, with Phillipps recording solo work and also appearing in one of David Kilgour's band, the Heavy Eights.

The Chills reformed for a second time in 2003, and have since been working on new materials, some of which appeared on a mini-album, Stand By e.p., in 2004.