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Say Yes To Apes


Say Yes To Apes were a loose, noisy, often sloppy and usually creative Dunedin, then by 1985 Christchurch-based underground rock outfit formed by frontman Kevin Smith, drummer Pat Faigan and multi-instrumentalist Steve Watson, born out of the earlier Picnic Boys.

Though The Picnic Boys were more of a collective, with line-up combinations putting songs together and compiled as one-entity, Say Yes to Apes was formed as a streamlined ‘power-trio’. The group released a handful of home-made lo-fi tapes on their own TV Eye label, and eventually even some (now extremely sought after) vinyl.

The group were driven by Faigan and Watson’s obsessive music collections – listing a great deal of influences at the time:

The Stooges, The Fall, Captain Beefheart, Bo Diddley, Swell Maps, The Clean, Meat Muppets, Flipper, Can, Love, The Seeds, Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, early Pink Floyd, Pere Ubu, etc etc etc

Patrick Faigan
Say Yes to Apes – Say Yes to Apes

Kevin Smith was the band’s vocalist. He was a rugby-playing half-Tongan who had married young. He was good-looking and confident, and came from a completely different demographic than that usually associated with weirdo arty bedsit combos from the deep south. The intensely abstract Patrick Faigan (aka Duane Zarakov) on drums and multi-talented Steve Watson on bass, synth, violin, guitar, piano and percussion made up the rest of the band, with Tim McLeod sometimes appearing on guitar and violin.

AudioCulture profile of Say Yes to Apes

Later joined by Tim McCleod, Say Yes To Apes were the last and most successful of the TV Eye collective. TV Eye released Watsons’ Legacy Of Ears, Faigan’s Semolina Island and Smiths’ Hyphen-Smythe solo material, all with distinctive hand-scribbled sleeves and home-brewed production techniques. The group disbanded in 1986 when Pat Faigan moved away – Smith and Watson carried on as Hyphen-Ears for a short while after.

Each of these releases are now highly rare and thoroughly collectable. As the group had all been living in Christchurch for quite a while by the time it was recorded, Faigan has described the unreleased last album ‘The Immortal Say Yes to Apes‘ as the collectives best album – but despite plans it has yet to see an official release.

Tragically, Kevin Smith lost his life with injuries sustained from a fall while filming a movie in China in February 2002.




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