i n t e r v i e w   w i t h   D o n
   'Inside Information,' 'The Plague'

"About [the] second year of university I was really good friends with a group of people that were centred by Richard Von Stermer and Charlotte Wrightson - they were both writers and performers. They started a group called Inside Information, which was sort of a music theatre collective. I joined in on that and I ended up throwing song ideas into the pot, and we did shows around Auckland. Richard was a really prolific writer - and still is. He writes more working with his poetry and short stories I believe at the moment, but in those days he would churn out lyrics all written with this old typewriter, everything written in capitals, and all the lines were really short and they were all really sort of political diatribes. He had a song called “Frank Gill’s An Idiot,” - Frank Gill used to be an MP. It just repeated that over and over again. 

A lot of these songs were arranged and performed by Richard’s band The Plague, which was a really notorious band around Auckland. It was quite famous for shows where the whole front line of the band would be naked and painted different colours. I played with them a few times while I was actually in the Symphonia, so occasionally I’d come from Symphonia gigs still in my Symphonia penguin suit, with my French horn and I’d stand up on stage with them and the naked painted people would jump around me. We’d play these songs like “Frank Gill’s An Idiot” and “Private Property.” It was a really vicious noise, but it was really fun, fun to part of. Three of the members of that group floated off to form another group called the Whiz Kids which was a... probably more conventional rock ‘n’ roll band. 

So the Whiz kids travelled around the country being a band and made a record and did all the things that bands do. I was a member of that for the last year, I think, playing saxophone and guitar, none of which I could play very well, but it seemed like a good thing to be... a good thing to do. I didn’t really want to finish my university degree, so I was kind of a bit at a loss at that stage."


ã Copyright  Radio New Zealand Ltd 1998.  All rights reserved. Used with permission.