Straitjacket Fits

Dissonant kiwi pop-rock that at times verged on shoe-gazer (the band were known for incredibly loud live performances), often hiding their delicate melodies and concise, heartfelt lyrics behind a wall of feedback. Based around Shayne Carter and Andrew Brough (who eventually split from the band after the Melt tour to form Bike) both on guitar and vocals, David Wood filling the bass role, and John Collie at the drums. Shayne Carter was always the man in the spotlight, he had come from Dunedin band the Doublehappys and was known as a bit of an enigmatic front-man, as well as being quite the temperamental artist type. Andrew Brough however (formerly of the Orange), represented the quiet and caring, under-appreciated side of the band – his single ‘Down In Splendor’ is one of the best examples of melodic kiwi pop, a fragile, love song with a killer sing-a-long chorus.

But Carter is one hell of a songwriter also, practically carrying the first album (the classic Hail) with his singles ‘She Speeds’ and ‘Life In One Chord’. During the first two albums, the Fits were at the fore-front of kiwi rock, challenging the Chills and the Headless Chickens for the most popular of local bands, and along with the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience as the pick of the New Zealand underground scene. When the Melt tour wound down in early ’92, Brough decided it was time he formed his own band, as little of his material seem to work its way into the Fits cannon. He was replaced by Mark Peterson for the disjointed album Blow, released later in ’92.

Although Blow contains some excellent pop singles in ‘Done’, ‘Cat Inna Can’ and my personal favorite, and an excellent moot point for The Fits – ‘If I Were You’, the album was too inconsistent to support an attempted break into the burgeoning American market, and the band broke up to persue their own interests.

Carter now performs under the Dimmer moniker, releasing the brilliant, decade in the making I Believe You Are A Star last year to unanimous critical acclaim, and with a follow-up to be released shortly! Brough’s band Bike made one of the great New Zealand pop albums of the mid 90s, drawing a great deal of radio play for what was basically an all-hit album.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Life In One Chord 12″ Ep [1987 Flying Nun Fn080 / Fne25]
  • Hail [1988 Flying Nun Fn105]
  • ‘Hail’/’So Long Marianne’ 12″ Single [1988 Flying Nun Fn108]
  • ‘Hail’/’So Long Marianne’ 7″ Single [1988 Flying Nun Fn114]
  • Hail [1990 Extended U.S. Edition Flying Nun Fn142]
  • ‘Sparkle That Shines’/’Grate’ 7″ Single [1990 Flying Nun Fn151]
  • Melt [1990 Flying Nun Fn174]
  • ‘Bad Note For A Heart’/’In Spite Of It All’ 7″ Single [1990 Flying Nun Fn175]
  • ‘Bad Note For A Heart’/’Skin To Wear’/’In Spite Of It All’/’Hail’ (Live) 12″ / Cd Single [1990 Flying Nun Fn176]
  • ‘Down In Splendour’/’Seeing You Fled’/’Missing Presumed Drowned’/’Cave In’ Double 7″ Single [1990 Flying Nun Fn180]
  • Down In Splendour Video Cassette [1990 Flying Nun Fn D16011]
  • Done Ep [1992 Flying Nun Fn242]
  • Blow [1993 Flying Nun Fn251]
  • ‘Cat Inna Can’/’Sycamore’/’Satellite’ Cd Single [1993 Flying Nun Fn265]
  • ‘If I Were You’/’Brother’s Keeper’ (Demo)/’Burn It Up’ (Demo) Cd Single [1993 Flying Nun Fn285]
  • Best Of Double-Cd [1998 Compilation Flying Nun Fn406]

Awards Etc
Rianz Awards 1990


  • Music Video Of The Year – Bad Note For A Heart
  • Cover Design Of The Year – John Collie

Rianz Awards 1993


  • Album Of The Year – Blow
  • Top Male Vocalist Of The Year – Shayne Carter

See-Also

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