- Straitjacket Fits
Background information Origin Dunedin, New Zealand Genres Rock, alternative rock, indie rock Years active 1986–1994 Labels Flying Nun Records
Rough Trade Records
Past members Shayne Carter
Like many of their stable-mates, the band hailed from the southern city of Dunedin. They formed from the ashes of The DoubleHappys, a band comprising Shayne Carter, Wayne Elsey and John Collie. The tragic accidental death of Elsey saw Carter and Collie join forces with David Wood (ex-Working With Walt) in 1986 to form Straitjacket Fits. Andrew Brough (from The Orange) signed on the following year, adding a foil in the form of pop sensibility to Carter's more raucous songwriting. From their inception, the sound of the band was marked by the seemingly incongruous but highly effective pairing of Carter's rough abrasive voice and strident guitar and Andrew Brough's saccharine-sweet vocals and pop hooks.
1987 marked the release of their first EP. Life in One Chord defined their sound, spending 10 weeks in the Top 50. All four of the songs are justifiable New Zealand rock classics, none more so than the astonishing "She Speeds", which was to become the band's hallmark song. Its edgy lead vocal (from Carter) was underpinned with a dynamic jagged guitar and stabs of strings which tumbled into a churning melodic chorus on which Brough's voice soared. The exact opposite approach was taken on "Sparkle That Shines", its gentle downbeat melody sung by Brough giving way to a chorus laced with Carter's knife-edge harmonies.
The band left Dunedin, briefly moving to Christchurch, before making the shift to the country's main marketplace, Auckland in 1988. Their first album Hail was produced by Terry Moore (a former member of The Chills) and was released later that year (it would later be re-released on CD accompanied by the four songs from Life in One Chord). The band's first overseas venture, to Australia, came in 1989, followed soon by a tour of Europe.
In 1990 the band started work on their follow-up album Melt (produced by Gavin Mackillop), probably their finest album, and one which was to produce moderate hits with the Brough composition "Down In Splendour" and Carter's "Bad Note For A Heart". The following year the band was back on the road with an extensive tour. The band supported My Bloody Valentine in Australia and The La's in the US but the strain was beginning to show, with reputed "musical differences" between Carter and Brough. Brough left the band at the end of the tour and was replaced by guitarist Mark Petersen.
1992 saw the band release the EP Done. Done made it to number 11 on the New Zealand Top 40 singles chart. Produced by Tony Cohen in Melbourne and without Brough, Done was an altogether louder and guitar driven record. The band then moved to California to record their third album Blow, with producer Paul Fox. The album was released in 1993, and starts where Done left off, but lacked the carefully balanced dynamic that had always been evident in the interplay between Carter and Brough. It produced the singles, "Cat Inna Can" and "If I Were You", but the writing was largely on the wall for the band and they decided to go into a semi-permanent hiatus, following their appearance at 1994's Big Day Out.
In 1998, a self-titled CD was released. Its 16 tracks were all previously available on other releases; the CD is essentially a "best-of" compilation.
Post-Straitjacket Fits, Shayne Carter has found more success with his band Dimmer, whose music bears surprisingly little similarity to that of Straitjacket Fits. Allowed more complete control of the music's sound, his new band's music is sparser. Gone are the strident guitars, and what remains has a decidedly funky, jazzy edge. The remaining members have taken a lower profile. Andrew Brough released one album with the band Bike before moving back to Dunedin and retreating from the music scene. John Collie became a photographer of some note who has exhibited his work widely.
In 2001, as part of the Australasian Performing Rights Association's 75th anniversary, a poll was conducted to vote on New Zealand's top 100 songs of all time. Straitjacket Fits' song "She Speeds" was named at number nine, and "Down In Splendour" at number 32, and "If I Were You" at number 88 on this list.
In 2005, Straitjacket Fits reformed without Brough for a brief series of concerts around New Zealand.
In 2008, the band received the New Zealand Herald Legacy Award at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards, and were inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame. In his acceptance speech, Carter said "To all the artists out there who are brave enough to think outside of the square - kia kaha."
David Wood died suddenly, on November 17, 2010. A service for David was held at the Pt Chevalier RSA on the following Monday. He left behind a wife and two children.
Shayne Carter (guitar/vocal), John Collie (drums), David Wood (bass)
1987 to 1991
Shayne Carter (guitar/vocal), John Collie (drums), David Wood (bass), Andrew Brough (guitar/vocal)
1991 to 1994
Shayne Carter (guitar/vocal), John Collie (drums), David Wood (bass), Mark Petersen (guitar)
Date of Release Title Label Charted Certification Catalog Number Albums 1988 Hail (NZ) Flying Nun Records - - FN105 1988 Hail (UK/US) Rough Trade - - UKR147 1989 Hail (compilation) Flying Nun Records
- - FN144
1990 Melt (NZ) Flying Nun Records 13 (NZ) - FN174
1993 Blow (NZ) Flying Nun Records 12 (NZ) - FN251 1993 Blow (US) Arista - - 18697-2 1998 Straitjacket Fits Flying Nun Records - - FN406 EPs 1987 Life in One Chord Flying Nun Records 10 (NZ) - FN080 1991 Missing From Melt - - ASCD-2244 1992 Done Flying Nun Records - - FN242
The group has appeared on many compilations and soundtracks since their inception in both New Zealand. The following is a list of these albums that have featured tracks by the Straitjacket Fits.
- (1988) - In Love With These Times (Flying Nun Records) - She Speeds
- (1991) - Getting Older (Flying Nun Records) - Dialing a Prayer
- (1991) - Pink Flying Saucers Over the Southern Alps (Flying Nun Records) - Bad Note For A Heart
- (1993) - No Alternative (Red Hot Records) - Brittle
- (1997) - Topless Women Talk About Their Lives (Flying Nun Records) - Down In Splendour & She Speeds
- (1999) - Scarfies (Flying Nun Records) - She Speeds
- (2002) - Nature's Best (Sony Music) - She Speeds
- (2002) - Nature's Best 2 (Sony Music) - Down In Splendour
- (2003) - Nature's Best 3 (Sony Music) - If I Were You
Featured DVD appearances
- (2004) - Second Season Flying Nun DVD II (Flying Nun Records) - Down In Splendour
- (2004) - Very Short Films: A Flying Nun DVD (Flying Nun Records) - She Speeds
Year Single Album Charted Certification 1988 "Hail" Hail 20 (NZ) - 1990 "Sparkle That Shines" Hail (UK/US) - - 1990 "Bad Note For a Heart" Melt 25 (NZ) - 1990 "Down In Splendour"
Melt - - 1991 "Down In Splendour"
Melt - - 1991 "Roller Ride" Melt - - 1992 "Done" Blow 11 (NZ) - 1993 "Cat Inna Can" Blow 19 (NZ) - 1993 "If I Were You" Blow - -
- ^ Listing of APRA New Zealand top 100 songs poll results
- ^ "Straitjacket Fits honoured with Legacy Award" (Scoop website)
- ^ "NZ Music Awards: Straitjacket Fits win Legacy Award". 3 News. 8 October 2008. http://www.3news.co.nz/News/NZ-Music-Awards-Straitjacket-Fits-win-legacy-award-/tabid/209/articleID/75023/cat/41/Default.aspx. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
- ^ "Straitjacket Fits honoured with Legacy Award" (Muzic.net.nz)
- ^ "Straitjacket Fits to receive Legacy Award" (Newstalk ZB website)
- ^ "Straitjacket Fits honoured with Legacy Award" (Press release). Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. 3 September 2010. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/CU0809/S00053.htm. Retrieved 24 October 2010.
- ^ "David William Wood Obituary". The New Zealand Herald. 19 November 2010. http://notices.nzherald.co.nz/obituaries/nzherald-nz/obituary.aspx?n=david-william-wood&pid=146691944&sms. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
- Davey, T. & Puschmann, H. (1996) Kiwi rock. Dunedin: Kiwi Rock Publications. ISBN 0-473-03718-1
- Dix, J. (1988) Stranded in paradise: New Zealand rock'n'roll 1955-1988. Wellington: Paradise Publications. ISBN 0-473-00638-3
- Eggleton, D. (2003) Ready to fly: The story of New Zealand rock music. Nelson, NZ: Craig Potton Publishing. ISBN 1-877333-06-9
- Flying Nun's Historic Site - Straitjacket Fits Biography
- Howlspace article on Straitjacket Fits
- National Radio Music Features - mp3 stream of Straitjacket Fits' Reunion Tour finale, recorded live at Sammy's in Dunedin, May 7, 2005
- NZMusic.com - includes video for Hail
- Scoop NZ Top 40 article on Shayne Carter
- Videos for Straitjacket Fits on NZ On Screen, for Bad Note for a Heart and Down in Splendour
- Kara, Scott "The Story of Straitjacket Fits", New Zealand Herald 2 October 2008. Retrieved 25 February 2011.
- Interview with Shayne Carter and David Wood and live performance of 'Missing Presumed Drowned'
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