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Coconut Rough


Auckland synth-pop group formed by former The Plague and Whizz Kids bandmates Andrew McClennan (aka Andrew Snoid) and Mark Bell, along with McLennan’s bandmate in The Singers – Wayne Stevens (aka Bonies Hillman). The group managed to garnish major-label support and huge popularity for a brief period in the early-mid 1980’s thanks to the terrific smash-hit single ‘Sierra Leone’.

The group formed after the dissolution of The Swingers – which had struggled to handle the popularity of their massive hit ‘Counting the Beat’. McLennan described the experience of working alongside The Swingers Phil Judd:

Working with Phil was an accelerated learning curve. I got to work with a musical genius who taught me simple things like routine and discipline. His attitude was awe-inspiring. He would start off every day with writing then we would learn new songs and when the rehearsals were done we would spend the rest of the day doing bonding stuff like playing baseball. Phil taught me how to run and manage a band and apply a workmanlike attitude to the creative process.

Andrew McLennan – From his AudioCulture profile

McLennan took the knowledge he had gained from Judd and formed Coconut Rough, writing and recording 22 songs before getting label interest from Mushroom NZ. Unfortunately the group hit hit upon a familiar problem:

The irony of it was that the one hit wonder thing that affected The Swingers so badly became our yoke to bear as well. ‘Sierra Leone’ became the only song from our repertoire that people wanted to hear and no matter what we did we couldn’t follow it up.

I was 22 years old and that song was everywhere. It sure as hell gave me my seventeen-and-a-half minutes of fame but it also became this albatross I couldn’t get past. For a long time I struggled with it. I don’t feel that way now because it’s grown beyond me and I am really grateful for the royalty cheques, they never cease to amaze me.

Andrew McLennan – From his AudioCulture profile

Coconut Rough went the same way as The Swingers – struggling under the weight of being a one-hit wonder the group split in 1986, with McLennan rejoining Pop Mechanix.

Wayne Stevens died in November 2020.



RIANZ Awards 1983

  • Most promising group of the year: Coconut Rough



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