1492746105098 - At home with The Chills’ frontman Martin Phillipps

At home with The Chills’ frontman Martin Phillipps

Martin Phillipps is the frontman for Dunedin punk rock band The Chills. He lives in Tainui, Dunedin.

It’s my first mortgage – ever. The deposit for the mortgage came as part of a record deal. I’ve got overgrown gardens on both sides of the house. They got away from me when I was overseas for a couple of months late last year. It’s the only overgrown house on the entire street – crazy old man Phillipps’ house.

I’ve got, I don’t know, 2000 vinyl albums, and CDs – there’d be a good two or three thousand. They’re organised by international A-Z, then various artists. Then I do New Zealand A-Z, then various artists.

* At home with Northland artist Liz McAuliffe
* Room of the week: An old Epsom ballroom
* Room of the week: A home for the decades

There’s a whole shelf of unmarked CDs I’ve been working through. Just a few weeks ago, I found the original ’82 recording of Pink Frost – long presumed lost. The weird thing was, a friend and I had been talking about that very thing like, 2 hours beforehand.

Our drummer, Martyn Bull, had gotten sick with leukemia and died in ’83. Up to then, we really thought we’d re-record Pink Frost. Once he died, we realised well, we’ve got to do something with this. It just needed better vocals and a couple of extra guitars. The vocals on the original recording are really rough – there’s no way that single would have done as well as it did if it had gone out without being redone.

In the same room, there’s hundreds and hundreds of DVDs. Recently I picked up the David Bowie box set – Who Can I Be Now? 1974 – 1976 – it’s really good. At the same time, I picked up the first of The Avengers – the British TV series – that’s very early 60s, I’ve never seen it before.

I used to watch TV a lot more than I do now. I’m getting into creative mode for the next album and that makes me restless. I keep a little pen and paper beside me when I’m watching TV because I inevitably won’t even make it through an episode now. I quickly take a note of where I was and get back to work. It frustrates the hell out of anyone watching with me.

I’m holding a strange old New Zealand Commodore guitar – Commodore and Holden and Concord companies sprung up when the import licence restrictions were strict regarding getting equipment in from overseas. The New Zealand-made equipment, it’s not particularly good, most of it. That guitar, I think it had been a flatmate’s who was working on it and lost all the parts. It’s exactly the same as the guitar that my friend Craig Easton had, in my first band, The Same, in 1978.

I have 14 or 15 guitars – that include acoustics and slide guitars, and bass guitars. I’m not very good at maintaining them. I tend to stick with a particular guitar for a while, then kind of move on. There’s a really good technician down here, Danny Buchanan, who is helping me work through my guitar collection to bring them all up to standard for the first time in decades. I’ll have a whole range of accessible instruments for the first time in a long time.

The Chills’ 10 venue national tour begins in Wellington on April 26. See undertheradar.co.nz for further dates and tickets.