The Chills Pink Frost 25th Anniversary
Pink Frost, which peaked at No. 17 on the NZ charts and stayed on it for 18 weeks, turned 25 this year. The history of the song Pink Frost is inextricably linked with the story of Martyn Bull, drummer of the Chills at the time they first recorded the song.
The song itself was recorded on 29th May 1982 at the Lab studios in Auckland, ten days after the recording of their first 45' record, Rolling Moon. At that time the Chills were composed of Martin Phillipps on guitar and vocals, Terry Moore on bass and Martyn Bull on drums. Their keyboardist at the time, Fraser Batts, had recently left the band and Phillipps' sister Rachel had left to go back to Dunedin. So at this recording session they could only do the songs that required a three-piece. So they recorded 'Pink Frost' and 'Purple Girl' but decided to come back with a keyboardist and they would record the rest of the songs that would make up the Rainbow EP. They also felt that 'Pink Frost' hadn't been quite captured well so would come back and re-record it as well.
But something occurred in The Chills that would halt the re-recording and subsequent release of 'Pink Frost' for two years. Martyn Bull, an extremely healthy and fit person, was tired after after the session and two weeks after their return to Dunedin was diagnosed with leukaemia.
They put the band on hold with belief in Martyn that he would recover, did not engage a replacement drummer. Martyn was put on chemotherapy but realised it was killing him quicker than the illness so returned to his hometown of Masterton to warmer climes which would be better for his health. He died there surrounded byu his family on the 18th of July. After his death, the band listened to the recording of Martyn Bull and liked what they heard so a suggestion was made for an extra guitar overdub to be done and another lead vocal to really get the song well so Terry and Martin returned to Auckland to complete the song on the 5th of January, 1984.
"Martyn Bull was born on the 6th of March 1961 and died aged 22, yet STILL feels older than I am. He was someone to look up to, someone special."
Released in 1984, that year it shared the charts with such hits as Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper, Pride (In the Name of Love) by U2 and the theme tune of Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr.
In Dunedin at that time, there was a proliferation of bands performing alongside The Chills. These included Spaghettis, Alpaca Brothers, Crystal Zoom, The Verlaines (the Graeme Downes, Caroline Easther, Jane Dodd incarnation), Sneaky Feelings, Pink Plastic Gods, Netherworld Dancing Toys, Doublehappys, The Puddle, The Orange, The Rip, Look Blue Go Purple, Wreck Small Speakers on Expensive Stereos and Subtitle.
Pink Frost, having been described as a smouldering gem, is a song that has featured on the popular Nature's Best compilation and become a standard of the Dunedin Sound at the time. The song itself has an upbeat jangly guitar riff and yet there is something elusive in the lyrics. Who is being talked about? The vocals itself are very dreamy and float along. It has become though the mainstream song of the Chills, probably that and Heavenly Pop Hit to a lesser extent. In the words of Martin Phillipps, "It is the song we shall be remembered for."
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