Straitjacket Fits

 

Legendary Dunedin band Straitjacket Fits has been named as the second-ever winner of The New Zealand Herald Legacy Award, and will be inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame.

Formed in 1986, Straitjacket Fits exploded onto the music scene, winning critical plaudits and fans worldwide. In their eight-year career, the band made such an impact on the industry that it has won the prestigious award, which will be presented at the 2008 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards on October 8.

Last year Johnny Devlin was awarded the first-ever gong when RIANZ recognised his incredible contribution to the birth of New Zealand rock and roll.

Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards spokesperson Campbell Smith says Straitjacket Fits impact on New Zealand music was just as significant as that of Johnny Devlin.

“Straitjacket Fits really led the second wave of Dunedin sound in the late eighties. They’re a perfect fit for the award.”

“The effect these guys made on the New Zealand music scene was huge. They have inspired and influenced dozens of Kiwi bands. The band were at the forefront of the new phase of the Flying Nun sound which took a bunch of mostly Dunedin bands to huge local popularity and onto the international stage.”

Shayne Carter and John Collie from Double Happys joined forces with David Wood to form the original Straitjacket Fits line-up and they were joined 12 months later by Andrew Brough from The Orange.

The group’s first EP Life in One Chord was released in 1987 and spent 10 weeks in the Top 50. The four songs were all rock classics but none more so than the band’s defining tune “She Speeds”. Influential Australian music weekly On the Street called it “arguably the greatest debut single of all time”. When the UK’s Melody Maker heard it a year later, they said the EP was “as necessary as dreaming”.

A move to Auckland in 1988 preceded the release on Flying Nun of Hail, the first of three original Straitjacket Fits albums. Later the same year Hail was released in the UK and the US on the influential Rough Trade label.

By the time of their epic second album Melt they had signed with the American record label Arista - home of everyone from Patti Smith to Whitney Houston. The hits “Down in Splendour” and “Bad Note for a Heart” followed along with more worldwide touring.

The band line-up changed following a 1991 US tour and Brough was replaced by Mark Peterson, before the 1992 release of the Done EP made it to number 11 on the New Zealand Top 40 singles chart.

The band moved to California in 1993 to produce its third album Blow which produced a couple of notable singles - such as “Cat Inna Can”  and “If I Were You” - with the album making it to number 12 on the New Zealand charts and also being released in the US, Australia and Europe.

Straitjacket Fits went into semi-permanent retirement in 1994 following its appearance at Big Day Out. The band reformed briefly in 2005 for a series of concerts throughout New Zealand. Three of their songs sit in the APRA Top 100 New Zealand songs of all time, with “She Speeds” at number nine on the list.

”New Zealand has a fine history of powerful and melodic guitar bands. Straitjacket Fits was, and is, one of the best. It’s perfect that we can acknowledge the band’s place in this history with such an award,” Smith says.