The Chills are together again in the studio for the first time in seven years, and promising to break new ground - by recording a Christmas song people won't hate.

The latest incarnation of the band, led by frontman Martin Phillipps, has been recording at the New Zealand Music Industry Centre studio in Dunedin this week.

But, this time Phillipps and the band have broken away from their rockier past to move into the less edgy world of the festive season.

The "very old" traditional Christmas song would feature on a new Christmas album raising money for charity, alongside works by other New Zealand artists, producer Monique Rhodes said.

However, fans of the Dunedin Sound act should not despair.

"I hate Christmas music. I loathe it," Rhodes said. "I want to make an album of Christmas music that's so cool you will go 'wow'."

And Phillipps himself was sure the song - like the album - would survive the test of constant repetition. Even so, he said it took a day's contemplation after being approached by Rhodes before he was ready to say yes to the idea.

Some friends thought it was "a bit of an odd thing to do", but Phillipps was convinced by the record's charitable intent "and the fact I could choose my own song".

"I was initially a bit dubious about a Christmas album. They do have a bit of an overly commercial reputation.

"This sounded like a really good idea. The session has gone really well and it's already feeling like a good record and a good song."

Phillipps would not name the song yesterday, and Rhodes said the tracks - and the identities of all the other artists - were still a secret.

The album would be released in November, she said, and would also include two original tracks, sung as duets by competition winners and celebrities, and proceeds would support the shine* family violence prevention service.

- Otago Daily Times