The Knobz were originally Rockylox — founded by singer-guitarist Kevin Fogarty in 1978. After a name change in 1980 they had a Top 10 hit with ‘Culture?’: a jab at Prime Minister Rob Muldoon’s refusal to lift a sales tax on recorded music. Another topical single — a John Lennon tribute called ‘Liverpool to America’ — failed to match the success of ‘Culture?’ Album Sudden Exposure followed; but they disbanded in 1983 after failing to get a foothold in Australia. Now a teacher in Auckland, Fogarty co-founded the ‘Ukuleles in Schools’ programme.
In the tradition of novelty songs, ‘Culture?’ was catchy to the point of contagion. Fuelled by carnival keyboards, it was The Knobz response to Prime Minister Rob Muldoon’s refusal to lift a 40% sales tax on recorded music (originally instituted by Labour in 1975), and Muldoon's typically blunt verdict on the cultural merits of pop music (“horrible”). The giddy, hyperactive video comes complete with Muldoon impersonator (Danny Faye), and casts the band as the song’s 'Beehive Boys'. In the backgrounder, Mike Alexander writes about his time as the band's manager.