Straitjacket Fits were a corner stone in New Zealand independent rock from their formation in 1986 till their inevitable break-up in February 1994. Though predominantly a kiwi indie-rock group, they were at times dissonant (and incredibly loud), hiding their delicate melodies and concise, heartfelt lyrics behind a wall of feedback.
The group were a Dunedin 4-piece based around the song-writing, guitar and vocal duo of Shayne Carter (who had most recently been in The Weeds) and Andrew Brough (The Orange), bassist David Wood (Working with Walt), and John Collie (The Weeds) on the drums.
Straitjacket Fits – Life in One Chord EP (Flying Nun Records, 1987)
Shayne Carter was always the man in the spotlight, as the front-man of the Double Happys he 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.
Straitjacket Fits – Hail (Flying Nun Records, 1988)
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.
Straitjacket Fits – Melt (Flying Nun Records, 1990)
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.
Straitjacket Fits – Blow (Flying Nun Records, 1993)
Although Blow contains some excellent pop singles in ‘Done‘, ‘Cat Inna Can‘ and my personal favourite, 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 pursue their own interests.
After a couple excellent singles under his own name, Carter’s focused switched to the solo-project-turned-touring-band Dimmer, releasing the brilliant, decade in the making I Believe You Are A Star to unanimous critical acclaim. 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.
David Wood passed away in November 2010.
- Life In One Chord 12″ EP (1987, Flying Nun Records, FN080 / FNE25)
- Hail (1988, Flying Nun Records, FN105 / FN142)
- ‘Hail’/’So Long Marianne’ 7″ / 12″ single (1988, Flying Nun Records, FN108 / FN114)
- ‘Hail’ split 7″ single (w/ Galaxie 500, Rough Trade)
- Melt (1990, Flying Nun Records, FN174)
- ‘Bad Note For A Heart’ single (1990, Flying Nun Records, FN175 / FN176)
- ‘Down In Splendour’/’Seeing You Fled’/’Missing Presumed Drowned’/’Cave In’ Double 7″ Single (1990, Flying Nun Records, FN180)
- Down In Splendour Video Cassette (1990, Flying Nun Records, FND16011)
- ‘Sparkle That Shines’/’Grate’ 7″ single (1990, Flying Nun Records, FN151)
- Missing from Melt EP (1991, Arista, ASCD-2244)
- Roller Ride promo EP (1991, Arista, ASCD-2356)
- Done EP (1992, Flying Nun Records, FN242)
- Blow (1993, Flying Nun Records, FN251)
- ‘Cat Inna Can’/’Sycamore’/’Satellite’ CD Single (1993, Flying Nun Records, FN265)
- ‘If I Were You’/’Brother’s Keeper’ (Demo)/’Burn It Up’ (Demo) CD Single (1993, Flying Nun Records, FN285)
- Straitjacket Fits promo split cassette (w/ Funland, 1993, Arista, CAS-2561)
- Straitjacket Fits compilation (1998, Flying Nun Records, FN406)
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
- Shayne Carter (Bored Games, Double Happys, Dimmer, Don McGlashan and the Others, The Adults, The Weeds, The Cartilage Family, guitar / vocals)
- Andrew Brough (The Orange, Bike, guitar / vocals)
- David Wood (Vivid Militia, Working With Walt, bass)
- John Collie (Gamaunche, Double Happys, The Weeds, drums)
- Mark Petersen (Shaft, guitar)