Street Chant could easily have never existed. Emily was a teenage binge drinker who couldn’t stop going to Eden’s Bar on K’ Rd, even though half the bands which played there made her sick. She was straight out of high school, and had this infernal itch telling her she could be on that stage too. Billie Rogers wasn’t much better. She played in a band she hated and wanted nothing more than to be in a band with Emily. Every time they ran into each other – which was every Friday, more or less – they would promise that they’d get together and jam.
One day, quite unexpectedly, it actually happened. Only right away, Emily realised that she wasn’t much into jamming. The band were taught and direct, with little tolerance for the slovenliness which characterised much underground music then and now. So while the band went from fever dream to reality, thanks to the addition of Mikey Sperring, then of Don Julio and the Hispanic Mechanic, Emily spent a focussed month writing the six songs she figured constituted a set.
One of those songs was named Scream Walk, a pop-grunge nugget so potent it was named to the top 20 singles of last year by international blogs and magazines without being, y’know, a proper single. The band was featured on Real Groove’s second state of the young nation survey Awesome Feeling II, and – this is important to note – at that point they were called Mean Street. By way of explanation: growing up Emily had chosen Hanson over the Spice Girls because those clean cut American boys played their own instruments. She kept a scrapbook, and still loves them to this day, but gradually she moved on to Nirvana, then The Pixies, then The Replacements until she was going out herself and loving The Coolies, Teen Wolf and The Whipping Cats.
Which is to say her horizons steadily shrank until it didn’t seem at all improbable that Mean Street could do what some of those bands had done, play shows at Whammy Bar, have songs on bFM... Maybe even make an album!
Along the way Emily and Billie decided who would play guitar and who wouldn't thanks to Billie’s father chancing upon a bass for $50 at the Otara markets. She still plays it on stage to this day. And Mikey decided to move on to The Drab Doo Riffs exactly the same time Alex was leaving The DHDFDs – fate handed two bands their perfect drummer, while the band changed their name to Street Chant so the new line up would feel like its own thing.
Since then the band has toured New Zealand with their spiritual antecedents The 3Ds, and were hand-picked to play around Australia with The Dead Weather, while watching every song they released top the b.Net charts. Now they want to close the door on this infinitely penniless and potent time with a document of the era. Appropriately entitled Means - in reference to the band they grew from - it comes out on Arch Hill, home to their predecessors (giants The Clean) and their brothers (fellow travellers Surf City, who they’ve shared stages and beers with). Means was recorded by legendary producer Bob Frisbee (Shaft, Nothing at All) in 2009, and is released in New Zealand on August 10 ahead of two national tours and a trip to the United States in October.
And through it all they remain exactly as they came in: fierce, irreverent, passionate and obsessed in equal measures. To find the truth in all the above, all you have to do is listen.
Source: Arch Hill Records