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Stand by . . . Chills founder Martin Phillipps searches through memorabilia last year that were to be sold to complete funding for a movie on the singer-songwriter's life. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

Martin Phillipps, one of the greats of New Zealand music, is coming to Oamaru to perform at Scotts Brewery. Hayden Meikle tracks down the Chills frontman in Dunedin.

Q: When are you playing in Oamaru?
We’re playing at Scotts on February 9. It will be a reasonably early show, I think.

Q: How has the gig come about?
We’re just doing Oamaru, and Christchurch the next night. We’re on our way to start recording the new album in Auckland. We just wanted a couple of shows to kind of get the juices flowing and so our producer can see the band live before we get into the studio. The Oamaru show is going to be a bit special because it gives us a chance to try out some new material.

Q: Have the Chills played in Oamaru before?
Oh yeah, many times over the years. I couldn’t tell you when the last time was. But Donna Demente has helped us out in the past with stage props and things, which was great. And we’ve obviously played at the Penguin Club a number of times. We’ve got a lot of friends and fans up there, so it’s nice to catch up with people in Oamaru.

Q: Do you think the Chills’ music lends itself to that sort of smaller town, smaller venue setting?
We can adjust what we do, from big European festivals down to private parties. We take that pretty seriously when we draw up a set list for the evening. You think about how many people know much about the band, or how many are long-term fans who want to hear something new and interesting. Some people just want a bit of a reminder of their youth, but others are aware the band is ongoing and doing some good new stuff. You’ve only got so long on stage to recap 35-plus years of a career.

Q: How’s the Chills documentary going?
Really well. They’ve been filming for nearly two years now, and it’s evolved into a proper feature film. I think they’re trying to have it ready for the international film festival circuit by later this year. It’s been a big undertaking. They came on board when I had some pretty severe health warnings. I was given the word that I might be dead within a year, and that was all caught on film. From what I’ve seen of the footage, it’s looking beautiful. Their aim is to make the best rock music documentary that’s ever been done in this country, and I think they’re going to achieve that.

Q: How’s the health now?
It’s ongoing. I’m doing some new treatment for my hepatitis C, and it’s just something I have to keep an eye on. Things are looking better.

Tickets to the Chills’ Oamaru concert are on sale at www.undertheradar.co.nz