The man referred to as the "spiritual godfather of the Flying Nun scene" has undergone numerous incarnations during his musical career: from his arrival amidst the punk era of the late 70s with The Enemy, to short-lived legends Toy Love, and over a dozen releases with duo Tall Dwarfs (in collaboration with guitarist Alec Bathgate). There have also been several Chris Knox solo projects, including 1995 album Songs of You and Me, (hailed by the American music press as a piece of songwriting magic), classic love song ‘Not Given Lightly', and a run of distinctive music videos — most of them directed by Knox.
Indie legend Chris Knox is featured in this episode from a series made for secondary school music students. He performs 'One Fell Swoop' — a love song he describes as an aberration amongst his more "nasty" numbers — and explains its composition while denying Whitney Houston comparisons. Knox is typically forthright in discussing his varied career as musician, cartoonist, TV presenter and "renaissance bloke". He outlines his philosophy of DIY self-sufficiency and extols the virtues of never compromising (so that even failure is "much more meaningful").
A fresh-faced Hugh Sundae interviews New Zealand’s own punk renaissance man Chris Knox, in this 2002 episode from TV2’s late night music show Space. Sundae quizzes Knox about a soon to be aired documentary celebrating Kiwi music label Flying Nun’s 21st birthday; Knox seems bemused (or abashed) that the documentary’s "first 20 minutes" focusses on him. Sundae knows the documentary well — he narrated it. Knox is at his mercurial best, batting off questions about his prolific output and berating the studio audience for applauding tales of "violence and anger”.
Chris Knox has described this love song as being “about as naked as I get” and “utterly heartfelt in a way that ‘Not Given Lightly’ only hints at”. So it’s no surprise the video is perhaps his most personal, with striking images of his long-time partner Barbara Ward’s face, sometimes projected on and merged with Knox’s own image. Mix in some classic low-tech Knox animation and the simple big red heart image of the Beat album cover - and it’s a poignant little gem.
In his typical one-man band style, Chris Knox’s music video for 'The Joy of Sex' keeps things simple for maximum effect. A strobing array of colours flickers as an animated image of Knox lists a series of contrasting word pairs — love/lust, yes/no etc — like some kind of health teacher gone mad. Manic animation matches his quick riffs, shifting and becoming more complex as the song reaches its conclusion. 'The Joy of Sex' was the opening track on Knox's sixth solo album Yes!!
A plasticine masterpiece by Chris and sculptor Barbara Ward (with whom he shares two children) comes in the twisted style we have come to know and love. High/low-lights include a gruesome impaling and spit roasting, self mutilation on a grand scale (including extreme acupuncture) and general addled paranoia. God bless CK.
One Fell Swoop offers more DIY ingenuity from the man who has made an art form out of simplicity: a hand hypnotically moves back and forth, revealing a new notepaper lyric with each motion. The result makes for a surprisingly mesmerising video, with interludes of Knox singing in front of a chaotically shifting background seeming startling by comparison. Some neat visual effects near the end leave Knox’s face disappearing into the background, a noticeable leap from the rest of the clip’s lo-fi sensibilities. Knox directed the video with then partner Barbara Ward.
Chris Knox wears a Madonna head-set mic and John Lennon sunglasses, with a t-shirt and bright yellow shorts, as he walks along Auckland's Ponsonby Rd singing and playing guitar. In background inserts Knox himself plays a mad air-guitar-playing chorus and censor. Very simple, but full of cheek and characteristic CK energy.
Scenes of ordinary domestic activities such as cooking, knitting and doing the washing feature with the pixelated face video effect usually reserved for criminals and the like. Knox doesn't appear in the video, but directs in his usual simple but slyly clever way.
Chris Knox's partner, artist Barbara Ward, directed this promo for 'My Dumb Luck' (from the LP Seizure) - a fun black and white animation featuring a troupe of crazy skeletons. Dem bones disperse, disintegrate and do their discombobulating thing in this delightful dance clip set to the manic beat of Knox's song.
Indie legend Chris Knox puts the posturing of Movember to shame in this animated single-frame clip. Knox goes from long hair to no hair, hairless to hirsute, bald to bearded, and every style in between. Has there ever been a more effective choreographing of one’s own personal style and grooming? A DIY high concept masterclass of Knox's directing talents. Brilliant!
Chris Knox directs his own face in this video for his classic Kiwi love song. The camera gradually pulls out from an extreme close up of Knox's face to a living room full of family and friends. Jump-cutting on the beat, Knox, with trademark simple-but-effective style, effectively fuses lyrics, song and an impassioned performance. Interestingly, in his ScreenTalk interview, Knox says he now regrets using a solarising video effect in the later part of the clip.
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.
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.
Kiwi music legends Toy Love are credited with leading the NZ post-punk sound, delivering a sonic flare from 1979 that scaled charts and smashed Sweetwaters watermelons, before the love ended on a late 1980 NZ tour. In this February 1980 interview for regional show The South Tonight, the band is seen in their Dunedin hometown, preparing for a show at The Captain Cook Tavern. Reporter Keith Tannock asks Chris Knox what he’s rebelling against as the singer chugs a double-barrelled ciggie, and casts shade on boring pub rock music. The band would shortly depart for a stint in Sydney.