Long lost stories: The Mockers 41 years ago

May 14, 2024
4 mins read

HELEN COLLETT interviewed The Mockers’ main man Andrew Fagan as the band perched on the edge of chart success. A NZ Music Month special.

“You got kicked out of your flat, didn’t you?” remarks Mockers singer Fagan, whilst stuffing his face with chips.

No, that was *****. He smashed up the neighbour’s place. I was allowed to stay. I was in Auckland at the time, I say. Are you living in Auckland now?

“Yeah, I’m living on my boat”, says Andrew.

Too much speed? “No, not enough money!”

I exchange further witty repartee regarding boating, the weather and old acquaintances with Fagan. He sits there, exuding that infamous “boyish, self-effacing charm” (quote – press release).

Nah, he’s still a regular guy. Nervy, friendly, talkative. At this point, about The Mockers ‘Cleopatra’ single.

“It’s just a straightforward, bouncy pop song. To lots of people, it’s just sort of throwaway,” he says. “Well it’s not, it’s got a good tune! ‘My Girl Thinks She’s Cleopatra’ is a hook, of course. So that’s it. But I always have a bit of a laugh to myself about that song. It’s hard for me to say this, because it’s a question of offending people I know. But it’s really about how fucked up so many young girls are. When we’re touring and just meeting girls, you can’t tell whether some of them are 13 or 23. Half of them are 13, and they’re all so fucked up. They’re doing things they’re told – not really told to do, I mean it’s a really cliched theme. But at the same time, I thought it was worth bringing out. It just shook me, how young those girls are, and just the whole trip – smoking and fucking and everything. Physically, they look 23 or whatever, but they’re at the mental age where it’s really fucking them up.

“So that’s what that song’s about,” says Andrew. “It’s almost the same topic as ‘Trendy Lefties’. I mean, everyone sets those stereotyped standards. Everything’s geared for it, the whole media trip. It’s really hard to get away from, but it’s really shitty. The whole thing seems inevitable, because people always want to be something different. It seems futile, but so is singing about it, really.”

A deep sigh all round. I enquire whether Andrew is still into publicizing the planet Strombal, Morocats and Gombolics. (Important previous preoccupations. To the man who is still called God, by some. One hopes with a grain of salt).

“I’m trying to write stuff along those lines now,” says Andrew. “But more than songs. I’m trying to write it in book form. But I haven’t done it yet, I’ve got about four pages sitting in my boat. But I think, fuck, will everyone just laugh at it, or not?”

Rhetorical? Just do it, so what if they laugh.

Andrew: “Yeah, I mean they’re laughing anyway, I think!”

I have a drink. We think. And the beat goes on:

“The good thing is that I’m not doing varsity in Auckland,” says Andrew. “I’ve committed myself fulltime to the band, and with that, to writing. More than just sets of lyrics, other things as well. I’d like to actually get something published, but that’s another story (pun). I’ve got lots of stuff. I wouldn’t be so arrogant as to call it poetry, because I don’t really think it is. I’d say it’s more like thoughts. I don’t want to go out and say ‘This is my poetry thing!’ I don’t really look at it like that, when I’m doing it.

“The reason all this has come out is that I don’t have to worry about varsity or about management anymore,” says Andrew. That’s because I have Ian (Kingsford) here. The trend now is to say that you don’t need a manager. I think that’s crazy. You still need a manager, even if it’s one of the road crew. A band can’t function without a manager. Laste year, I was doing all of that stuff. I was only committing half of myself to the band, to the actual songs and lyrics. The rest is just running around organizing PAs, publicity and all that shit. You’ve got to have someone. It’s a fulltime job.”

What would you like to do next, Andrew? “I’m going to shoot myself.” Oh, of course. That’s so obvious. Can’t you think of something a bit more original?

“No, I’m going to shoot myself if we don’t get into the charts with this single,” says Andrew. (Talk about bathos, tee-hee!). “But you’ve got to laugh at it. Here we are, or here I am with Gary anyway, three years on. In spite of what people say about the songs, we still haven’t had any real chart success. It’s still early, this single might do well. But it’d be a real laugh if it didn’t.

“All this just makes me more resolute to keep going with the songs. I’ve got confidence in them,” says Andrew. “You feel you’re getting away from trying to write stuff that’s going to get somewhere when you know that all the time you’re not getting anywhere!” He cracks up. “So you just keep boxing on. When I get bored with this and want to do something else, I’ll just do it, and that’ll be it. But at present, I’m all geared up.”

+ This story originall appeared in the July 22, 1983 issue of Wellington’s TOM magazine.




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Helen actively covered the post-punk scene in Wellington in the early '80s in her uniquely vivid style before moving onto other pursuits. To honour Helen and her work from time to time we bring you excerpts from her most excellent back pages.

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