In an era when they thought bands had far too many members and too many minutes in their songs, Street Chant busted into the fray with a stomp on the distortion pedal, a beer in hand and a bad attitude.
Describing themselves as a couple of Auckland teens who hung out on K Rd, doing "punk rock shit" when everyone else was listening to "overworked, limp wristed pop-rock", Emily Littler and Billie Rogers bribed original drummer Mikey Sperring with beer and weed to form the three-piece initially known as Mean Street.
The band first gained radio exposure from a demo version of ‘You Do the Maths’, which appeared on the 95bFM Top 10 less than a year after their inception.
Throughout 2008 and 2009, Mean Street played regularly in Auckland, gaining a reputation as one of the hardest working bands in the city and fostering a punk rock attitude.
Creative differences and growing commitment from Littler and Rogers eventually led to the departure of Sperring on drums, who opted for the surf-groove sound of The Drab Doo Riffs. Sperring was replaced by Alex Brown, formerly of frantic Point Chevalier punk group The DHDFDs.
Mean Street then became Street Chant, considered by all three members to be a different band, despite playing some of the same songs.
Street Chant continued to ride the wave of exposure created by hustling shows in Auckland every weekend, securing support slots for a nationwide tour with Flying Nun legends The 3Ds, and an opening spot for The Dead Weather’s Australasian jaunt.
Alongside a hard working reputation, the band also became known for Littler’s fiery attitude, which has resulted in her throwing microphone stands off stage and ramming guitars through kick drums.
Mid-2010 saw the release of the debut album Means on Arch Hill Recordings, a signing initiated after a MySpace message from label owner Ben Howe expressed interest in releasing their material.
The album was generally well received, earning the band a victory in the inaugural Critics’ Choice category at the 2010 New Zealand Music Awards.
Means was recorded and engineered by Bob Frisbee, considered by Street Chant to be instrumental in the evolution of the group from drunk, stoned, screaming teenagers into musicians able to make conscious decisions about sonic experience and vocal tone. The album was generally well received, earning the band a victory in the inaugural Critics’ Choice category at the 2010 New Zealand Music Awards.
Street Chant headed to the USA in 2011 for the CMJ Music Marathon, South by Southwest Music Conference and a West Coast tour with The Lemonheads, brought about after Evan Dando saw a video of Littler wearing a 3Ds T-shirt (one of his favourite groups, and ex-tour buddies) while playing a bFM ‘In Session’ performance. Street Chant also began work on a follow-up to Means at Arch Hill Studios, Neil Finn’s Roundhead Studios, and Littler’s house, where she prefers to work on her vocals.
In April 2012, listeners caught a glimpse of work from the upcoming album with a double A-side 7-inch, ‘Frail Girls’/‘Salad Daze’, accompanied by videos directed by Levi Beamish and Damian Golfinopoulos. To follow the single, Street Chant released ‘Sink’ in December, a song – according to their Bandcamp page – “telling tales of debaucherous Auckland groundhog nights out”. ‘Sink’ remains the most pop-ready song the group have released to date, with overdubbed, catchy vocal melodies reminiscent of 1990s pop-punk from the United States.
In 2013, they released an EP of throwaways and B-sides called Isthmus of One-Thousand Lovers, sold with a band T-shirt designed by Auckland street-wear brand Arcade. Isthmus features five tracks, with Street Chant reaching to unfamiliar acoustic territory on ‘Tear My Whole Face Off’ and covering Blam Blam Blam’s classic ‘There Is No Depression In New Zealand’.
Singles ‘Never’ and ‘Pedestrian Support League’ were released in 2015, in advance of their album Hauora, released through Arch Hill Recordings in 2016. In 2017 Street Chant was awarded the Taite Music Prize for Hauora.
Emily Littler - vocals, guitar
Billie Rogers - bass, vocals
Alex Brown - drums
Emily Littler also releases solo music under the name Emily Edrosa, recording acoustic guitar on an old 4-track.