The Chills are coming!
I first saw The Chills when I was a scruffy New Zealand high school student who’d somehow talked my way into being part of a show on Nelson’s independent radio station, Access Radio. The station (now Fresh FM) had just launched, with a “community involvement first, quality output later” approach while it found its feet. This worked in my favour, for my contributions to the show were excruciatingly bad, consisting mostly of awful interviews with bands recorded in cafes so noisy all you could hear on playback was the clatter of plates and the occasional laugh or cough.
Among the bands subjected to such unprofessional treatment were The Chills in their Soft Bomb incarnation. Sadly, Martin Phillips didn’t turn up to the interview, but the rest of the band did, a bunch of jolly Americans who went along nicely with the conceit that I was a) a professional reporter and b) not at school.
I remember telling some terrible fibs to guitarist Steven Schayer about what I was doing after the gig, none of which involved the reality of apologising to Mum for breaking my curfew yet again. I was thrilled beyond belief when he complimented me on my pride and joy, a disgusting old brown suede jacket I’d picked up at a charity shop. It wasn’t until days later, recalling the story to a friend, that I realised when he said “I love your leather jacket, do you wear it all the time?”, he was probably just making a joke.
Anyway, if my sixth form year had been Submarine Bells and Heavenly Pop Hit, seventh form was all about Soft Bomb, a cruelly underrated album that I played over and over until the tape stretched. It still holds a special place in my heart. Indeed, I often catch myself muttering “Soft bomb, soft bomb, soft bomb, soft bomb” out of the blue. Don’t worry, I’m not plotting to kill you.
It contains the odd bit of filler, admittedly, but also a great deal of killer: Male Monster From The Id, Strange Case (channelling the Aramoana murders: “Never trust a man in camouflage gear”), A Song for Randy Newman etc, Background Affair (or “Af-fear” as Phillips sings) and my favourite, Double Summer – surely one of the best odes to summer love ever. Track kicks in from 0.33 below. Better yet, buy the album. Or catch them live right here in London town in July.