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The Knobz


Opportunistic Dunedin-based 4-piece pub-rock band known pretty much exclusively for their career-defining single ‘Culture?’, a satirical lampoon of Prime Minister Muldoon, and his despised 40% sales tax on local music. The song and hastily produced video featured McPhail and Gadsby regular, comedian and Muldoon impersonator Danny Faye.

Released in November 1981, ‘Culture?’ is a rock radio classic in New Zealand – and has the distinction of being the first independently released local single to break into the top 5 of the New Zealand charts. The group claimed their label (EMI) had baulked at releasing the political hot-potato (leading to the formation of the Bunk Records imprint), but when their initial 500 copy pressing sold out, WEA took over manufacturing and distribution.

Even before they released their cultural landmark the group had a notable opportunistic side – the 1979 single ‘Radiation For Free’ (released under the groups original name Rockylox) notes support from local radio station 4ZB, Dunedin pub Downtown Tavern and Lion Breweries – a behemoth of the local performance circuit.

Bunk Records’ Mike Alexander has told a story on the labels creation and the financial implications of producing and releasing a chart hit independently, not exactly painting the group’s front-man Kevin Fogarty in particularly positive light.

I negotiated a distribution deal with WEA’s Tim Murdoch, who had earlier passed on the single, and a royalty deal with Dave Christensen at Polygram’s budget label Music For Leisure for ‘Culture’ to be included on the annual Solid Gold compilation (Volume 28). Solid Gold was a cash cow, selling around 80,000-100,000 copies.

We got way above the standard industry licensing rate in those days — 28 cents for every album sold — because ‘Culture’ was an anomaly — an independent recording, and Christensen wanted to continue the Solid Gold format of having at least one Kiwi artist represented on every compilation. ‘Culture’ was the Kiwi song of the moment.

Mike Alexander – ‘Culture?’ background (nzonscreen)

The group ended up taking the money, leaving Alexander to man the label, but with no financial reward for his (substantial) business nous. The group signed directly to WEA and recorded their debut album ‘Sudden Exposure’, playing the 1981 Sweetwaters Music Festival and 22 gigs in a couple short months before trying to repeat their success in Australia however Fogerty would be back in New Zealand in time for the 1982 Sweetwaters, now with a new line-up in tow. The Knobz would disband soon after.

Mark Stanton passed away in 2005.



  • ‘Radiation for Free’ 7″ single (as Rockylox, 1979, self-released, PR1007)
  • ‘I Like It’ 7″ single (1980, EMI, HR601)
  • ‘Culture’ 7″ single (1980, Bunk Records)
  • Sudden Exposure (1980, WEA, Z22006)
  • ‘Sudden Exposure’ 7″ single (1981, WEA, Z10043)
  • ‘Liverpool to America’ 7″ single (1981, WEA, Z10045)
  • ‘Roads to Rome’ 12″ single (1982, WEA, Z20019)


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