The Chills' new album is called, suitably, Snow Bound. Frontman Martin Phillipps tells us about the latest jacket he loves to wear and more.
1. In some ways, new song Complex seems a million miles from early Chills. What has been the one biggest change in The Chills' sound in 38 years?
There are aspects to our new single which make it a natural progression within that edgier post-punk side of The Chills which has always been an element of our sound - alongside the more well-known power-pop and the atmospheric numbers.
There have been many songs along those lines including Familiarity Breeds Contempt, America Says Hello and Rocket Science which have also dealt with real issues.
In the case of Complex the situations referred to are the types of communication difficulties I see as distressingly prevalent these days and also where many people are attempting to portray some of this world's most immediate problems as simple when the issues are, by their very natures, extremely complicated.
The biggest difference between our two recent albums and our earlier material is that I'm no longer trying to find what musical styles I feel comfortable with - I have found the broad direction in which to take The Chills' sound and that means the new albums have a consistency and a cohesiveness to them which the early ones sometimes lacked.
2. Do you go out of your way to start your album titles with S.B.? And what's behind the name Snow Bound?
The S-B titles concept started in the mid-eighties with an idea for my own publishing company called Soft Bomb and then it was purely coincidental that there was an album in 1990 called Submarine Bells.
The Soft Bomb title was then used instead for the album that followed in 1992 and afterwards I decided to keep it going just for fun and as an added discipline.
There have also been Sunburnt, Stand By, Sketch-Book, Somewhere Beautiful and Secret Box.
The title Snow Bound is about those of us who are ageing and feeling trapped with possibly redundant ideas so we're having to consider how to move forward and remain active and effective in a new world of turmoil.
Snow Bound is an album about consolidation and reassessment.
3. What will we learn about Martin Phillipps when we hear Snow Bound?
People will learn that 2015's Silver Bullets was not just a very exciting one-off comeback album but a stepping stone towards Snow Bound which is already being recognised as probably the superior work.
This album also highlights the strengths of the band which has been with me (in some cases) for nearly 20 years and also the great chemistry we had while recording with our excellent producer, Greg Haver.
Lyrically they will hear the thoughts of someone writing, in part, for those of us who are angry to have fought for changes during our youth only to see things slipping backwards again - and also because we are tired of being told by mere puppies that our accumulated wisdom and experienced world-views are no longer relevant!
4. What can long-time Chills fans expect from your live shows next month?
In recent rehearsals we, as a band, were thrilled to realise we now have too much A-Grade material for one set alone so we can rotate a few songs each night without going near anything we find less than 100 per cent energising.
So each night we will be playing as many of the best songs as we can from the very beginning of The Chills right through to the new material - and that's with the band these days being absolutely on fire!
5. What is your favourite back catalogue song to perform live and why?
Pink Frost from 1982 is still a special song and it is always a joy to enter into that atmosphere when it is performed live.
6. What's your favourite item of clothing these days? Do you wear it all the time?
I was very fortunate to be given some special clothes by Barker's so I could look good in the upcoming Chills feature-length documentary and that included a lovely warm All Blacks coat which has been perfect for the Dunedin winter. I wear it ... often!
7. What lesson have you learned in your career that you would tell a young person wanting to be a successful musician?
If you don't have the fire and drive in you and something special that you have to express then it may not be the career for you.
Learn about the business and retain rights over all your material - if your material is good there will be better offers to choose from so you don't need to take the first one.
Make sure you (or someone else) is archiving everything and labelling it in a way that a stressed Martian with poor eyesight could still search through it and understand your system.
8. Who or what excites you most about the current New Zealand music scene?
It is exciting and amusing that, although we were undeniably a real factor in drawing attention to this county's music when we were younger, there is so much new music being made now that many young people couldn't care less about us! I think that's exactly as it should be. But it is also nice when, with so much extraordinary music around, some of the newer talents still find us inspiring.
9. You can only fit one album by another artist on your device — what is it?
The Beach Boys: The Smile Sessions. Ha! I cheated - it's a whopping great box-set.
10. You're curating a music festival. Who's on the bill, alive or dead?
The Velvet Underground (1968), Toy Love (1979), Otis Redding (1967), The Beatles (1966), Bob Dylan and the Band (1965), The Rolling Stones (1971), CAN ( 1972), The Clean (1981), Buffy Sainte-Marie (1992), Sly and the Family Stone (1970), Nirvana (1991), P.J. Harvey (2011), Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band (1969), Aretha Franklin (1968), Suicide (1977), David Bowie (1972), The Stooges (1970), Bird Nest Roys (1986), The Monks (1965), New York Dolls (1973), Ramones (1977), Parliament-Funkadelic (1974), The Who (1970).
•Snow Bound is out September 14. The Snow Bound Tour begins in Hamilton the same day.
Radio Hauraki, Wakachangi and Under The Radar Presents
The Chills - "Snow Bound Tour"
Sept 14 - Hamilton, Altitude with Reb Fountain (solo)
Sept 15 - Gisborne, The Dome with Reb Fountain (solo)
Sept 16 - Napier, The Cabana with Reb Fountain (solo)
Sept 20 - Christchurch, Blue Smoke with Finn Andrews (The Veils)
Sept 21 - Dunedin, 50 Gorillas with Finn Andrews (The Veils)
Sept 22 - Wanaka, Water Bar, with Finn Andrews (The Veils)
Sept 27 - Wellington, San Fran with Tiny Ruins (solo)
Sept 28 - New Plymouth, Mayfair Theatre with Tiny Ruins (solo)
Sept 29 - Palmerston North, The Globe with Tiny Ruins (solo)
Sept 30- Paekakariki, St Peter's Hall with Tiny Ruins (solo)
Oct 4 - Whangarei, Butter Factory with Steve Gunn (U.S.A)
Oct 5 - Leigh, Sawmill Cafe with Finn Andrews (The Veils)
Oct 6 - Auckland, Galatos with Tiny Ruins (solo)
Oct 7 - Waiheke Island, Artworks Theatre with Steve Gunn (U.S.A)
Tickets from www.undertheradar.co.nz