Exponents lead singer Jordan Luck discusses his career and approach to songwriting in this episode from a series for secondary school music students. Luck recalls his own first musical steps at Geraldine High School and the realisation that he could write his own material. He performs an acoustic version of his classic song 'Victoria' which he wrote about the toll of domestic violence on his landlord at the time — an example of his preference for writing from personal experience. He also previews 'Finesse', a work in progress about Invercargill.
In this excerpt from TV2's 90s late night news show, a bemused Mark Staufer interviews Jordan Luck (aka "slightly tipsy singer") as his band The Exponents plays on a rooftop on Auckland's Karangahape Road, to promote a new album and summer tour. The jokes about not falling off may have a point. Luck suggests the new release is "a magical recording of ancient times" and confirms that they will be touring the whole country, "and Greymouth as well ... and Westport". The bakery underneath is long gone — replaced by an adult shop. Bassist David Gent also says some words.
This concert from May 1983 finds Dance Exponents — one of five bands filmed for a Radio with Pictures live series — with their star on the rise, but yet to release their debut album. An irrepressible Jordan Luck and band mates Dave Gent, Brian Jones and Mike Harralambi perform six songs in front of an enthusiastic full house, at Auckland's premier venue Mainstreet Cabaret. Highlights include a sparse, urgent 'Victoria' and a barnstorming 'Airway Spies'. Opening song 'Perfect Romance' was only ever released in this version on a companion live album.
Dressed as a 1920's flapper bride, Karyn Hay introduces highlights from the TVNZ rock show’s televised concerts at the now demolished Mainstreet Cabaret on Auckland's Queen Street. The songs are Dance Exponents' 'All I Can Do' (with a sweaty Jordan Luck), an impassioned 'Billy Bold' from Graham Brazier's Legionnaires, Hip Singles' 'After the Party' (with snappy high kicks from Dick Driver), a brassy 'Outlook for Thursday' from Dave Dobbyn's DD Smash, a rocking 'Look the Other Way' from The Narcs and Coconut Rough's moment in the sun 'Sierra Leone'.
RWP reporter/director Brent Hansen (later head of MTV Europe) visits the South Island: checking venues, talking to local luminaries, catching live bands and generally taking the pulse of the local music scene. Flying Nun is on the rise (and just starting to attract international attention) although none of the label's major acts are playing near the RWP cameras. Christchurch is in flux waiting on the next big pop act to emerge, while Dunedin is a hive of activity with a new generation of Flying Nun acts starting to come through. Then there's Crystal Zoom...
Post-punk trio Blam Blam Blam formed on Auckland’s North Shore in 1980: Don McGlashan (vocals, drums), Mark Bell (guitar) and Tim Mahon (bass). Their second single was the legendary ‘There is No Depression in New Zealand’ — a theme song for the Springbok Tour-marred winter of 1981. A van crash seriously injured Mahon and spelt the end of the Blam. McGlashan later formed The Mutton Birds, before going solo. Mark Bell played in Coconut Rough and The Jordan Luck Band, and has written for NZ Musician. Tim Mahon joined Dead Sea Scrolls and spent time as Manukau City Council's arts coordinator.
In the early 90s Australian David Barraclough joined The Exponents as a guitarist and songwriting partner for singer Jordan Luck. ‘La La Lulu’ was one of the results. Directed by Mark Tierney, the video sees the band – besuited a la Reservoir Dogs – hard rocking in a studio then driving around a quarry, before tagging and demolishing their ride. It borrows a graphic style from US conceptual artist Barbara Kruger, flashing slogans like ‘online erotic’ over the band. ‘Lulu’ got to 13 in the NZ charts, and would be the band's final single to break the top 20.
This was the song that started it all for The Exponents. Instead of the usual TVNZ studio cheapie, the promo is a film clip, complete with fantasy 80s Christchurch night-life scenes. The song was inspired by Jordan Luck's onetime landlord, who was trapped in an abusive relationship. Locations include the Arts Centre and deco apartments opposite. Reaching number six, the song would prove to be the biggest hit on a debut studio album packed with classics. Luck later described it as "a strange song to pick as a first single"; but the right one.
A young, blonde and big-haired (it was the early 80s) Jordan Luck and his fellow band members hang out in Auckland's old Leopard Tavern for this sing-along classic. Model Debra Mains — star of a number of DD Smash videos of the time — smoulders as the spurning lover. A rest-home of elderly extras join in for the famous chorus. The dial phone looks positively pre-industrial. The song was voted number 89 in the APRA Top 100 New Zealand songs of all time; the Dance Exponents' debut studio album Prayers Be Answered stayed in the charts for a year.
Dance Exponents were the crown princes of NZ pop when they released this left field follow-up to their very successful debut album. ‘Sex and Agriculture’ introduced new guitarist Chris Sheehan and marked a major departure from hook-filled pop songs into harder, noisier territory. A rhythmic, driving soundtrack punctuated by Sheehan’s atmospheric guitar undercuts lyrics that could describe a rural idyll. Jordan Luck grows increasingly desperate in this shadowy, constricted TVNZ video which echoes the song’s dark claustrophobic sense of rural dread.