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Here's Five: Martin Phillipps Shares Ocean-Themed Tunes From The Chills

Here's Five: Martin Phillipps Shares Ocean-Themed Tunes From The Chills

Tuesday 25th April, 2017 2:12PM

Flying Nun mainstays The Chills are about to embark on a 10-date nationwide tour, which will start tomorrow night in Wellington and zig-zag around the country before winding up in Auckland in mid-May. The extensive jaunt will see the Dunedin pop icons dive into songs from their latest record Silver Bullets, as well as plunging into their back-catalogue to pull some older favourites. In anticipation of the tour kicking off, frontman Martin Phillipps shared the stories of some of the band's water and ocean-themed tunes from over the years...

1. 'Submarine Bells'
From Submarine Bells (1990)

In this song the ocean represents the enormity and complexities of love and other human emotions. It is a psychic landscape where dramas unfold and one can be forced to admit to the depths of another person's feelings. This theme was also touched upon in the as-yet unrecorded song ‘Dolphins' from 1981 of which only a rough live version has thus far been released on the Secret Box compilation of rarities in 2000.

2. 'Water Wolves'
From Submarine Bells (1990) out-take/B-side and an orchestral version on the Soft Bomb album (1992)

In 'Water Wolves' the ocean is not our natural environment and therefore it contains danger - specifically sharks and things which will attack and consume us but also the more general terror of the vast solitude and those unknown horrors which may lurk in the future. We recorded two very different versions of this song; a band interpretation in 1990 and then two years later a small orchestral version arranged by Van Dyke Parks. Somewhere between the two attempts may lie the real one. In the context of this song the "Water Wolves" are obviously sharks and these creatures also turn up in a demo for a song ‘Raw Shark’ from 1995 which was included on the Secret Box compilation of 2000. That song though is more of a warning against anthropomorphising wild creatures like sharks, dogs and cuddly kittens!

3. 'Walk On The Beach'
From Sunburnt (1996)

In this song the ocean and nature in general are shown as the overwhelming backdrop to our troubles which can remind us in a healthy way how insignificant we are in the bigger picture of things. But it also says how exposure to this environment can be such a powerfully healing experience. This concept was also explored in the song ‘Wave-Watching’ which was a Submarine Bells B-side from 1990. It was then addressed more deeply in the epic song ‘Hawea’ which only exists as a home-demo which was released on the album Sketch Book: Vol. 1 in 1999.

4. 'Ocean Ocean'
From Sunburnt (1995)

‘Ocean Ocean’ is a tale of adventure on the high seas but it also represents the voyage of The Chills up until that point. The original demo’s were of a much more thunderous, surging song and it is one of the few we’ve recorded which I would like to tackle again some day. The album Sunburnt also included the song ‘Swimming In The Rain’ about using water as a possible means of suicide but then choosing instead to enjoy life despite its endless challenges and many disappointments.

5. 'Underwater Wasteland'
From Silver Bullets (2015)

This dramatic three-part song is about the destruction of our oceans due to human greed and ignorance. The 2015 album Silver Bullets also used water imagery in the song ‘Warm Waveform’ but there it is a metaphor for the haven of love as a safe port after one has endured enough in the battle with life’s storms.


UnderTheRadar Proudly Presents...

The Chills
with Anthonie Tonnon

Wednesday 26th April, San Fran, Wellington
Thursday 27th April, St. Peter's Hall, Paekakariki
Friday 28th April, The Cabana, Napier
Saturday 29th April, The Royal Wanganui Opera House, Whanganui
Thursday 4th May, Blue Smoke, Christchurch
Friday 5th May, The Scottish Hall, Invercargill
Saturday 6th May, The Sherwood, Queenstown (no Anthonie Tonnon)
Thursday 11th May, Totara St, Mount Maunganui
Friday 12th May, The Raglan Club, Raglan
Saturday 13th May, The King's Arms, Auckland

Tickets for most shows available HERE at UTR, see below for ticketing details for Whanganui and Invercargill


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Thu 4th May
Blue Smoke, Christchurch
Sat 6th May
Sherwood, Queenstown
Thu 11th May
Totara St., Tauranga
Fri 12th May
The Raglan Club, Raglan
Sat 13th May
Kings Arms Tavern, Auckland

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