Graham Reid | | 2 min read
And now we introduce a man who needs no introduction . . .
Martin Phillipps' appearance (and more recent absence) in the New Zealand music world has been the stuff of legend. He helmed various versions of his band the Chills out of Dunedin on to the cusp of international acclaim many times over two decades from the early Eighties, is a respected songwriter who was recently invited by Neil Finn to sing his early classic Pink Frost to an appreciative audience in London, and now – after 19 years – has returned with a new Chills album, the quite exceptional Silver Bullets.
It is shot through with Phillipps' archetypal musical intelligence, great songs, pointed lyrics, a 21st century sense of eco-emergency and . . .
Enough, let us allow Martin Phillipps to speak for himself in the Elsewhere Songwriter Questionnaire . . .
The first song which really affected you was . . .
The intro theme piece for the Evening Show, I think, on the radio in the mid to late ‘60s. A sad little tune played with clarinet or oboe or something. It meant it was nearly bed time.
Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .
The Black and White Minstrels. We didn’t have a TV for some of my childhood so it was always exciting when we went out visiting as a family and my favourite show was on. Then, aged about five, I suddenly went off it and thought it was silly.
The one songwriter you will always listen to, even if they disappointed you previously, is?
David Bowie and Scott Walker. Always worth checking out and often challenging.
As songwriters: Lennon-McCartney or Jagger-Richards; kd lang or Katy Perry; Madonna or Michael Jackson; Johnny Cash or Kris Kristofferson?
Lennon-McCartney, probably kd lang but know little of her stuff, maybe Michael Jackson although I don’t believe he wrote many of the good ones, tough call – probably Johnny Cash by weight of numbers.
The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear because they are well crafted are . . .
Submarine Bells. Some Velvet Morning. Where Or When.
Melody first? Words or phrase first? Simultaneous?
Usually separate processes, sometimes simultaneous and direct from the gods.
The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .
Mystery Train – Greil Marcus.
If you could co-write with anyone it would be . . .
The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)
The Osmonds – Crazy Horses/The Plan.
One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you would be . . .
Happy – Pharrell Williams.
One line (or couplet) from a song -- yours or someone else's -- which you think is just a stone cold winner is . . .
“You’re a wasted space, you’re a sad-eyed lie, you’re a holocaust.” Alex Chilton.
Songwriting: what's the ratio of inspiration/perspiration?
Increasingly perspiration but still lots of inspiration – maybe 50%.
Ever had a song come to you fully-formed like it dropped into your lap?
And finally, finish this couplet in any way you like: “Standing at the airport with an empty suitcase at my feet . . .” (You are NOT allowed to rhyme that with “meet” however)
“I must trek to the deli, retrieve my sample tray of meat”.
THE CHILLS AUSTRALASIAN TOUR DATES
Nov 7: Sammys, Dunedin with Brianjonestown Massacre
Dec 11: Galatos Auckland
Jan 11: McLaren Valley Festival Auckland
Jan 13: Sydney Festival Sydney
Jan 15: Max Watts Melbourne, Australia
March 8: New Zealand Arts Festival Wellington