One of Auckland’s pioneering punk bands, Suburban Reptiles represented the art school end of the punk movement. Confrontations with unsuspecting audiences and promoters soon had them in the headlines. Singer Zero (aka Clare Elliot) was arrested for swearing on stage. The band's debut, ‘Megaton’, was the first 12 inch 45 released by a New Zealand artist. They followed it with ‘Saturday Night, Stay At Home’ — one of the great Kiwi singles of the punk era. Phil Judd (ex Split Enz) joined towards the end after producing some songs for the band. Judd and Buster Stiggs went on to found The Swingers ('Counting the Beat').
'Saturday Night' is a glorious anthem from these Auckland punk pioneers, and a classic piece of NZ rock’n’roll. An improbable ode to the joys of having “one free night a week”, it was penned by Buster Stiggs and produced by ex-Split Enzer Phil Judd (on guitar). The video, made by TVNZ, was remarkably sympathetic and, apart from lurid lighting, avoided cheap effects in favour of capturing the band’s essence. Judd and Stiggs later formed The Swingers, while this performance won singer Zero a role in the Gary Glitter stage production of Rocky Horror Picture Show.
TVNZ journalist (and future Communicado founder) Neil Roberts does an ethnomusicologist turn in this edition of "established media tries to explain what the young people are doing". His subject is NZ's fledgling punk scene which is already on its way to extinction. Much of the focus is on Auckland but Doomed lead singer (and future TV presenter/producer) Johnny Abort (aka Dick Driver) flies the flag for the south. The Stimulators, Suburban Reptiles and Scavengers play live and punk fans pogo and talk about violence directed at them (from "beeries").
The opening images of this video — the swinging guitar, fingers on the fretboard — make for a defining moment in Kiwi music video history. The clip was actually shot in Australia; by the time they recorded the song, The Swingers had relocated from Aotearoa to Melbourne. They would soon be history. Aussie cinematographer/ director Ray Argall ('World Where You Live') matches the beloved composition with colourful images, quirky humour, and an infectious dance finale. In 2001 music organisation APRA voted the chart topper fourth on their list of the top Kiwi songs to date.
Taking its title from a quote from Def Jam's Rick Rubin, NZ's first homegrown house record was a one-off studio project made by four graduates of the punk and post-punk scenes of the late 70s and early 80s — Simon Grigg (Suburban Reptiles manager and Propeller Records boss), Alan Jansson (Steroids and Body Electric), James Pinker (The Features) and Dave Bulog (Car Crash Set). It was released in NZ as a white label 12" 45 and made a brief appearance in the UK club charts. Grigg and Jansson went on to work together on OMC's international hit 'How Bizarre'.
Formed by Phil Judd (a founding member of Split Enz), Bones Hillman (aka Wayne Stevens) and Buster Stiggs (aka Mark Hough) in 1979, The Swingers evolved from early punk band the Suburban Reptiles. After releasing debut single ‘One Good Reason' — which got to number 17 in the Kiwi charts — they signed with Mushroom in Australia. ‘Counting The Beat' would come to define them, rocketing The Swingers to number one on both sides of the Tasman, and selling 100,000+ copies. Disagreements over song choices hastened their demise in May 1982, after the late addition of vocalist Andrew Snoid (Coconut Rough).