Attention grabbing flash-in-the-pan first-wave Auckland punkers, based around James Salter (Aka Jimmy Joy – Saxophone), Claire Elliot (Zero – Vocals), William Prendergast (Billy Planet – Bass), Trish Scott (Sissy Spunk – Guitar), Brian Nichols (Shaun Anfrayd – Guitar) and original drummer Des Edwards (who turned up later in another short-lived punk band – Junk) soon to be replaced by Mark Houghs (aka Buster Stiggs) who had been playing in Neil Finns’ early outfit After Hours – before he left to join his brother in Split Enz.
Jimmy Joy (Brett Salter) and myself were going to form a jazz band, but, in late 1976, after having been shown a live review of the Sex Pistols in NME by film director David Blyth, decided that this punk thing had more going for it.
– Simon Grigg: taken from Griggs’ propeller archive website.
Under Simon Griggs management, the Reptiles dressed in stark and desheveled clothing, often in Nazi regalia, and attempted to draw attention to themselves making their live debut (borrowing Split Enz’s gear, no less).
Though far removed from the political uprising of their inspiration motherland of England, punk did make a major impact in New Zealand homes in 1977, and few bands were as attention-grabbing as the Reptiles. Billy Planet later switched instruments, replacing both original guitarists with Bones Hillman (who had made his name in the Avondale Spiders) bringing along his bass, and of course his unmistakeable punk-Hitler moustache with him.
They recorded 4 tracks at a 1977 session under Tim Finn (who according to Grigg fell asleep 10 minutes into the sessions) for phonogram, though only ‘Megaton’ and ‘Desert Patrol’ would turn up on their single with the other tracks (‘Razor Smile’ – which featured on the Angel Mine soundtrack, and the excellent ‘Coup D’Etat’) eventually compiled together onto the ‘AK79’ compilation in 1993.
Zero eventually went on to play Columbia in the stage version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show – joining the british king of glam, Gary Glitter. Reforming with Zero on vocals, Stiggs and Baldock on guitar with the Split Enz connection increasing to include Phil Judd on bass and Paul Crowther on drums they now took on a new wave approach – ousting Jimmy Joy. Pretty soon the band had disbanded, with Zero leaving for Sydney with boyfriend Joy.
Discography (picks in bold)
‘Saturday Night Stay At Home’ / ‘Desert Patrol’ 7″ Single [1977 Reissue Ripper]
Suburban Reptiles 7″ Ep [2004 Reissue Raw Power]