Richard Driver investigates late 80s campus radio for music show RWP, and finds stations that have outgrown modest beginnings. They have longer broadcast hours, a national co-ordinator (former Netherworld Dancing Toy Graham Cockcroft) and a profile in the industry. Further positives include their own style (a certain informality in presentation, perceived as a plus by many) and a commitment to alternative music and local talent. But there are also concerns about estrangement from student associations, and commercial success breeding advertiser pressures.
Music show host Richard Driver encounters “arguably the most famous person in rock’n’roll”. A very relaxed Mick Jagger is promoting his second solo album Primitive Cool when Driver interviews him outside Auckland’s busy downtown ferry terminal. The Rolling Stones singer’s sunglasses get a solid workout as he enthuses about his new band (which includes guitarist Joe Satriani), dismisses celebrity biographer Albert Goldman’s book about John Lennon, recalls encounters with Michael Jackson, and ponders the curious situation of being the subject of a tribute band.
The Cramps arrived in Auckland for the first time in 1986, and revealed themselves to be not quite as odd as they appeared. In this short RWP interview, lead singer Lux Interior shows himself as intelligent and sincere. Above all, he’s a music fan. The band went on to play two great shows of their rockabilly style of rock'n'roll at the Galaxy (now the Powerstation), which were recorded for live album RockinnReelininAucklandNewZealandXXX. A devoted couple, Lux and Poison Ivy were together for 37 years (33 of them as The Cramps) until Lux’s death on 4 February 2009.
In this RWP interview, Karyn Hay gets Split Enz members Neil Finn and Nigel Griggs to explain some of the band's songs before a January 1983 performance at festival Sweetwaters. Both are tired of doing True Colours tracks; the album "has followed us around like a bad smell for a year and a half" says Finn. He also admits 'I Got You' was "probably only about the third lyric I'd ever written", and touches on the BBC banning of 'Six Months in a Leaky Boat'. Griggs admits he has no idea what Finn's 'History Never Repeats' is about; Finn praises Griggs' "incredibly good bass riff" on 'Lost for Words'.
Richard Driver interviews members of touring Irish band The Pogues for legendary late night music show Radio with Pictures. Despite a daunting reputation, frontman Shane MacGowan is on his best behaviour (and in possession of a very clean pair of heels) as he and bandmates Spider Stacy and James Fearnley expound on the importance (and inescapability) of their Irish roots. MacGowan’s experiences with New Zealanders in London appear to be a private joke, but there’s nothing confusing about their opinions on being produced by fellow musician Elvis Costello.
English singer/songwriter Billy Bragg chats with Richard Driver in this interview, shot in a pre-bus lane Manners Mall in Wellington, for TVNZ’s hippest music show. They have unlikely company in the form of Alice, an elderly passerby, and the affable Bard of Barking happily includes her in the conversation. With a rare Top 10 hit single on his hands, Bragg discusses commercialism, his brief army career, and writing both love songs and political songs. A pre-concert performance of his track ‘Days like These’, recorded at Victoria University, bookends the interview.
The title belies this profile (made for TV rock show Radio with Pictures) of Chris Knox and Alec Bathgate in their early days as the Tall Dwarfs. They traverse their past in legendary punk band The Enemy — with compelling performance footage — and the influential but ill-fated Toy Love. Knox’s seething disillusionment with the music industry is rapidly evolving into the DIY ethos that will reshape NZ alternative music. He is also typically confrontational as they busk in The Octagon while the closing acoustic performance is worth the price of admission on its own.
Former Velvet Underground member John Cale’s first visit to New Zealand in 1983 is marked with this Radio with Pictures special. Indie legends Tall Dwarfs opened for Cale, and part of their performance is captured too. The venue is Christchurch's Hillsborough Tavern, where the cameras catch Cale's intense solo readings of classic songs including VU's ‘Waiting for the Man’, and Cale’s own ‘Leaving it up to You’. The Welshman also reflects briefly on his early years in New York, meeting Lou Reed, and his then most recent album, Music For a New Society.
In April 1984 Billy Idol visited New Zealand to promote his second (and most successful) solo album Rebel Yell. Interviewed by Radio with Pictures legend Karyn Hay, he answers her call for a closing rebel yell, talks about the origins of his name and early hit 'White Wedding'; argues he appeals to the intelligence of his audience; criticises racism towards the United States, a country full of "ordinary people who struggle everyday"; and argues that confidence and "a pretty heavy attitude" are key to survival in a music industry that is more concerned with money than art.
"Once a band has made it here in Godzone, the big question is: where to now?". As presenter Karyn Hay put it back in 1981, there was only one answer — Australia. RWP reporter Simon Morris headed to Sydney to meet Kiwi musos who'd made it (Marc Hunter, on hiatus from Dragon), and those trying (Sharon O’Neill, Dave McArtney, Mi-Sex's Kevin Stanton, Barry Saunders from The Tigers). Hunter muses on Sydney brashness versus NZ introspection, O’Neill shyly promotes 'Maybe' to Molly Meldrum, and expat music producer Peter Dawkins explains what makes a hit.