Chills off to Europe for tour in the sun

The Chills frontman Martin Phillipps is set to tour Europe with the group for the first time in...
The Chills frontman Martin Phillipps is set to tour Europe with the group for the first time in 18 years. Photo by Linda Robertson.

Martin Phillipps is ditching Dunedin's nights of chill blue and heading to the sunshine of Europe.

For the first time in almost two decades, cult Dunedin band The Chills is touring the UK and Europe.

''I think it was '96 that we last toured [Europe] properly, so it's been a long time,'' frontman Phillipps told the Otago Daily Times yesterday.

Phillips and his band mates - bassist James Dickson, drummer Todd Knudson, violinist Erica Sally and keyboardist Oli Wilson - left New Zealand this morning for a nine-date tour in support of the band's new album Silver Bullets, which is scheduled to be released next year.

''I really am [looking forward to the tour],'' Phillipps said.

''It's been quite weird over the last few years because we were essentially treading water, doing just a few shows each year. But now this new record label [Fire Records] and opportunity to go overseas has finally showed up and it's lifted our whole game.

''There's finally a reason for us to focus and move forward.''

The 51-year-old said the tour also provided an opportunity to present their new material.

While the new material ''sounds like The Chills'', the band's sound had evolved since the album Sunburnt was released in 1996.

''After two weeks in the studio we were still smiling at each other and still proud of what we have done,'' he said, of recording the new album.

Phillipps would remain in London and mix the album after the tour finished.

He conceded he had some nerves about whether he had ''the stamina'' for touring, but a three-show tour of New Zealand had shown him he did, he said.

The band had a cult following in Europe and North America in the late '80s and early '90s and that still remained.

''What seems to have happened is a core group of old fans is still there, but a whole heap of young people have discovered the music in the meantime,'' he said.

As well as the new material, the band would play its classics, including I Love My Leather Jacket.

And would the leather jacket make an appearance on stage?

''No it won't,'' Phillipps said.

''I don't fit it anymore, plus it's almost too valuable.

''I treasure it, but it's inappropriate for a 51-year-old to be strutting around in a leather jacket which is a wee bit too tight.''

The tour begins on July 23 in Leeds and concludes on August 2 with a show played as part of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

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