Started as a Christchurch-based pub-rock group called Splash Alley with the early line-up of Paul Mason, Chris Moore, Paul Scot and Kevin Emmett. The enigmatic English immigrant Richard ‘Dick’ Driver (later to become a host of the influential Radio with Pictures music TV show) became the front-man. Driver was fresh from the short-lived early Christchurch pseudo-punk outfit The Doomed.
Splash Alley played a mix of covers and originals in a commercial power-pop style. The group built up a strong reputation in Christchurch, playing residencies at local institutions like the DB Gladstone, the Hillsborough and the Aranui Tavern, before travelling North to try their hand at conquering the big smoke.
Things didn’t quite go to plan and the group returned to Christchurch, but after a change of name to Pop Mechanix and more sold out shows through-out the South Island, and a single on Auckland independent label Ripper Records, the group was eventually selling out packed out crowds up and down the country.
Eventually the accomplished Paul McLennan (Coconut Rough) replaced a departing Driver and locked in their pop direction as the group started releasing material with major label backing. A small handful of singles making the low region of the New Zealand singles’ chart soon followed, and the group worked towards making the jump to Australia in March 1981.
Though finding some success in Sydney, Australia proved a tough nut to crack. Thanks to an existing Canberra group called ‘Popular Mechanics’ they were forced to change their name – initially choosing ‘NZPop’ and then settling on ‘Zoo‘.
In 2005 Failsafe Records released a series of Pop Mechanix albums, compiling a huge grab-bag of unreleased material from the groups entire tenure.
- Paul Mason (guitar)
- Chris Moore (guitar / keyboards)
- Paul Scott (John Kennedy’s ’68 Comeback Special, Montana, Mr Blonde, The Bad Machines, The Likes Of You, bass / vocals)
- Kevin Emmett (Fat Sally, drums)
- Richard Driver (Hip Singles, vocals)
- Andrew McLennan (Coconut Rough, The Swingers, Whizz Kids, vocals)
- Mark Bell (Big Sideways, Blam Blam Blam, Coconut Rough, Scribble, Whizz Kids, Zolo And The Bantams, guitar)
- Peter Warren (DD Smash, Disciplin A Kitschme, Lip Service, Neons, drums)
- Brent Williams (Dance Exponents, guitar)
- ‘Now’ 7″ single (1980, Ripper Records, RIP005)
- ‘Ritz’ 7″ single (1980, RCA Victor, 103708)
- ‘Jumping out of a window’ 7″ single (1981, XSF, XS001)
- ‘Texas’ 7″ single (1982, XSF, XS007)
- ‘Looking through the eyes of love’ 7″ single (1985, Hit Singles, HIT025)
- Pop Mechanix EP (1985, Hit Singles, HITM025)
- ‘Celebration of the skin’ 7″ single (1986, Hit Singles, HIT026)
- ‘Pale skin’ 7″ single (1988, WEA, 7257875)
- Now: Singles and demos 1979-1981 (2005, Failsafe Records, 067CD)
- Zoo: Lost in Australia 1981 – 1983 (2005, Failsafe Records, 068CD)
- Acceptance: Reform, restart, redirect 1985 – 1986 (2005, Failsafe Records, 069CD)
- Live kicks: Live performance 1986 (2005, Failsafe Records, 070CD)
- Alright here: Make or break 1987 – 1987 (2005, Failsafe Records, 071CD)