Toe-tap­ping tunes for 40 years

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

The key to Hogsnort Ru­pert’s longevity is they’re not a band in each other’s pock­ets seven days a week, says band mem­ber Dave Luther.

The ge­nial owner of North­ern Mu­sic in Porirua has a lot to re­flect upon as an al­bum com­mem­o­rat­ing the band’s 40-year an­niver­sary hit the record stores.

The lineup has been tin­kered with over the years and there has been more than one hia­tus – in the 1970s and the late 1980s – but the essence of Hogsnort re­mains the same.

‘‘I think when peo­ple see us come on stage, es­pe­cially younger peo­ple, they think ‘hello, who have we got here?’ and we are older than a lot of our au­di­ences. If you don’t count our two young mem­bers, the av­er­age age is about 60, our drum­mer says it’s like be­ing on stage with the An­tiques Road­show. But once we get go­ing, it’s great, ev­ery­one’s into the mu­sic.’’

That ‘‘mu­sic’’ is not too com­pli­cated, con­sist­ing of gui­tars, a wash­board, ka­zoo, har­mon­ica and drums. Their songs are orig­i­nal, toe-tap­ping and in­fec­tious.

Theirs were hum­ble ori­gins. The first lineup of Luther, Alec Wishart, Ian Terry, Frankie Board­man and Bill Such were a group of English im­mi­grants in the mid-1960s. They played foot- ball for Welling­ton Di­a­mond United and then of­ten cranked out their sound in the clu­b­rooms af­ter­wards.

‘‘It was great – we were young, play­ing foot­ball and in the band, hav­ing a few beers. We played at the Hun­gar­i­ans’ [Foot­ball Club] once for free beer and goulash, and we did a few gigs out here for Western Sub­urbs too.’’

Un­der the name Hogsnort Ru­pert’s Orig­i­nal Flagon Band, they forged a rep­u­ta­tion in the Welling­ton scene and in 1969 hired a stu­dio to record four songs. At the end of the ses­sion, Luther asked the sound en­gi­neer how much they would have to pay, but was in­stead put in touch with record la­bel HMV. A con­tract was se­cured.

Their first al­bum failed to gather much in­ter­est, al­though sin­gle Gre­tel reached num­ber 11 in the Kiwi charts. A third-place fin­ish in a tele­vi­sion tal­ent show meant Luther’s tune Pretty Girl – which had al­ready sold about 700 copies – ex­ploded, sell­ing 2000 records a day at its peak.

‘‘ It’s a fairy­tale story for us re­ally. That song was No 1 for two weeks, in the top 10 for six months and we got a gold record out of it. We toured over­seas, opened for the Stones and The Searchers, it was a crazy time.’’

How­ever, Luther said they got ‘‘over-ex­posed’’. ‘‘ Pretty Girl played just prior to the six o’clock news ev­ery night for three straight months [in 1971]. This kid came up to me once and said ‘if Mum sees you on the TV again she’s go­ing to smash it to pieces’.’’

Over the years record­ing and play­ing has been on the band’s terms. They were back on the road in the 1980s with Life Be­gins at 40 – sung un­der the moniker of Dave and Dy­namos, while Alec was off­stage for a cos­tume change. It was a huge hit.

But fam­i­lies, day jobs and the fact three of their num­ber are no longer based in Welling­ton meant they had to pick and choose their get-to­geth­ers af­ter they stopped tour­ing again in 1988. Luther has lived in Porirua for 31 years.

Hogsnort Ru­pert has had two big gigs in their lat­ter years, open­ing the Mis­sion con­certs for Cliff Richard ( 1999) and the Beach Boys ( 2004), all the while per­form­ing reg­u­larly in other venues.

The new com­pi­la­tion – which har­vests tracks from their 10 al­bums, plus a few new tracks – has pro­vided the op­por­tu­nity to pause and re­flect, but Luther said they will just keep chug­ging along. Con­certs are planned for 2011. ‘‘Ev­ery­one en­joys each other’s com­pany and there’s a lot of shared his­tory there. Most of all we just love play­ing mu­sic.

‘‘I think we still have that fresh­ness be­cause we’re not to­gether all the time, it doesn’t take much to blow the dust off and we’re away.’’

Hogsnort hur­rah: Dave Luther has the gold records to show for a suc­cess­ful ca­reer as a mu­si­cian, part of well-known Kiwi group Hogsnort Ru­pert. His busi­ness, North­ern Mu­sic, based in Porirua for more than 30 years, has been the base for more than one band get-to­gether.

Back in the day: The orig­i­nal Hogsnort Ru­pert lineup, from left, Alec Wishart, Dave Luther, Billy Such, Ian Terry and Frank

Board­man.

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