Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chug - Kisser EP


One hot and sunny summer afternoon in January 1994, I was driving past the Dux De Lux (near the Arts Centre in Christchurch) and listening to RDU, the student-run University of Canterbury station (and in my opinion, one of the best radio stations in the Southern Hemisphere). Suddenly, the station played this buzzy, frenetic guitar-and-drum-driven track that made me sit straight up in my seat. I remembered that it was the "Local Music" time slot at the station, so I waited anxiously to the end of the song to find out who the band was (RDU was and is good about IDing every note played, unlike a lot of other stations). Sure enough, the announcer said the song was "Flowers", by a band called Chug.


That was all I needed to hear. I immediately turned the car east, towards the center of town and most importantly, towards the two main music stores in the City, Echo Records and Galaxy Records, located just down the way from one another in the Cashel Mall area. Galaxy didn't have anything by Chug, but Echo had an EP, Kisser, with exactly the song I was looking for. Within ten minutes of hearing that tune, the CD was in my hand.

Chug was formed in 1991 in Dunedin, the birthplace of such well-known and acclaimed (well, in certain quarters) bands as the Chills and the Clean. They quickly signed to Flying Nun Records, and the Kisser EP was their first release on the label in 1993. They recorded an album for Flying Nun, Sassafras, in 1994, and another EP, Little Things, in 1996, before leaving the label for Alias Records in late 1996. Alias roped them into a seven(!)-album deal, which included a rerelease of Sassafras on the label and a new album, Metalon, in 1997. Both of the band's albums and both EPs went exactly nowhere.

Chug's major problem was that they could never keep a consistant lineup going, apparently a familiar problem for Dunedin bands (see "Chills, The"). No less that three different lead guitarists and three drummers passed through the band in its first four years of existence. That's what murdered them in 1995-96, just after Sassafras was released - they spent all of that time rehearsing with another new member, and by the time they were ready, their moment had passed.

The stresses of constant lineup changes, relentless touring, and that humongous record deal hanging over their heads caught up quickly with Chug, and by the end of 1998, the band was history. It's too bad that the band could never again put out anything as strong as "Flowers".

Epilogue: I moved back to the U.S. in mid-1995, and a year or so later, I was watching Nickelodeon on cable, for some ungodly reason. The network's "Coming Up Next" promo came on at one point, and I instantly recognized the background music - it was an instrumental snippet of "Flowers"! It was stunning to see that at least one person in the U.S. was hip enough to find that one cool song by an obscure band from New Zealand, and put it on TV (although I used to laugh to myself, considering what would have happened if Nickelodeon accidently played the vocal part, which prominently features the "F"-word - don't think the parents of the kiddies watching at that time would be too pleased . . . )

Here you go:

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23 comments:

  1. Thank you SO SO SO much! i had been wondering about this band for years!

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  2. You are very welcome! Enjoy the music!

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  3. The tv show was The Adventures of Pete And Pete, so you know. It's actually held up great.

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  4. Wow - "Pete & Pete" was hip enough to play THIS song? I never had any interest in the show - I figured it was for kids. So now I know. Thanks for the info!

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  5. Thanks for being one of the best blogs out there!

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  6. Man, Bob . . . when I get comments like yours, it makes me that much more glad that I have this blog! Thanks for the good words, and keep on coming back!

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  7. Bob's right: HFM is loaded with great music and he's generous and patient enough to share it. Good stuff.

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  8. God bless Mr. PPS Heckhole. I had been beating my head against virtual walls trying to find this song somewhere besides a dying sun-drenched mixtape 15 years old, and he came through in less than 5 minutes. A gold star! The way forward! A vision of freedom!

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  9. I own the ep on the original cd from new zealand. Some guy who had no idea who they were sold it to me. It was probably 7 years ago on eBay. I have the album on my wall and I listen to it every so months just to get that Pete and Pete Nostalgia factor in. I will never sell it unless I get a huge money amount because it's an album I will never want to let go of.

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  10. Thanks so much for this, I've been looking everywhere.

    Great stuff!

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  11. Much thanks! A couple other noteworthy groups featured on The Adventures of Pete and Pete were Magnetic Fields and Polaris (opening theme) . . certainly worth a listen!

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  12. Thanks so much! You and your blog are completely awesome. I look forward to any of your future posts :)

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  13. Many thanks for once again posting another great EP from a New Zealand band that I was not aware of.

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  14. great stuff! thanks bunches

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  15. there is a serious lack of info on what is an awesome band out there in the interwebs. thank you for this detailed post about them! i mean c'mon wikipedia! I heard about them from a friend and google brought me here :)

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  16. Hey it's me Red. Thank you for sending me the link to this AMAZING Album.

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  17. Great EP Thanks Again!!!

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  18. Thanks for posting this excellent album! Reminds me of the greatest video game soundtrack of all time, "Quarantine", for the 3DO. It's loaded with killer tracks from "down under". Thanks again!

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  19. Thanks so much for the great music!

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