New Zealand roughly has the population of Wales spread across a country the size of Great Britain so finding and engaging with people who are into the same things as you can be tricky (unless it’s Rugby!).
This means that the Kiwi music scene has always been a merry-go-round of band members as good people are hard to find, and no-one epitomises this more than Andrew Snoid.
Andrew Snoid (born Andrew McLennan) would be worthy of his own Pete Frame ‘Rock Family Tree’ as he spent time in a number of highly influential NZ rock, pop, punk, art-rock and post punk bands in the late 70’s and through the 80’s.
The Whizz Kids, The Plague, Swingers, Coconut Rough, Blam Blam Blam and more all counted Andrew as a member at some point. My personal favourite though is Pop Mechanix.
Pop Mechanix (originally Splash Alley) were already established and had built a nationwide following when their original vocalist, Dick Driver, decided to pursue a TV career. As a side note, Dick would go on to host ‘Radio With Pictures’ the original inspiration for MTV, more of that another time!
The band were already scheduled to move to Australia before Andrew joined as they had outgrown opportunities in New Zealand. If you are a regular reader of this guest column you’ll probably be sick of hearing how almost all NZ bands seem to jump ship for Australia, but it’s true!! As mentioned earlier NZ is a small country with a small population spread far and wide. Charting records and regular touring were barely enough to keep a band afloat at home, Australia was where it was at.
Another common theme of this blog is that a move to Australia by a successful New Zealand band rarely has a happy ending, and this one is no exception!!
Pop Mechanix built momentum quickly after arriving in Australia with a number of high profile support slots. The band was busy and finding their own audience when legal action stopped them in their tracks. A Sydney band called Popular Mechanics laid claim to the name and asked for $5000 to relinquish all rights to it. Pop Mechanix record label refused to pay the money and the dispute went to court.
The judge ruled in favour of the Sydney band and Pop Mechanix could only use their name in NZ. They were forced to change their name for all territories outside of NZ, initially they used NZ Pop and later The Zoo. Early momentum and name recognition in Australia had been lost and the band returned to New Zealand.
During all this drama, in 1981 Pop Mechanix released a piece of Kiwi music gold, ‘Jumping Out A Window’. This song was voted number 87 on the all time 100 greatest Kiwi songs by APRA NZ, the Australasian Performing Rights Association, and is still in heavy rotation on NZ radio.
A driving bass/drums/farfisa opening introduces Andrew Snoids plaintive vocals, this intro wouldn’t have sounded out of place in a Split Enz song. Things get beefier during the verses before the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ chorus, stripped back and minimal to start but kicking in with the full band for the second half.
Jumping Out A Window has something for everyone, a song that united the dancefloor at my school disco. Rockers, Punks, New Wave kids, we would all hit the floor to this song, and yes, we all danced exactly like Andrew Snoid in the video.