Every day in May, to mark NZ Music Month, Gary Steel presents something local from his considerable behind. Personal archive, that is. Today’s surprise item?
Introducing the brand new Split Enz drummer, Paul Hester. Interview first appeared in TOM, 1983. RIP, Mr Hester.
Enz New Man
IN NOVEMBER LAST year, just prior to the release of Conflicting Emotions, Split Enz were secretly auditioning new drummers. The dawning of their annual NZ tour brought forth the information that our biggest pop export had acquired a new bang-bang man in unknown Paul Hester, and that Noel Crombie would be moving back to his former role as percussionist and general weirdo.
Hester is a Melbournian by birth living in ‘Seedney’ with his girlfriend. His previous New Zealand experience was working in a Paremata timber yard for three months three years ago. He has since played with a band called Deckchairs Overboard and a cabaret/comedy set-up called Love Party, which is still a part-time preoccupation.
“Through that, I got involved with a few actor types, and scored a couple of parts in films. I made a little film that is being shown over there at the moment. I went and saw it… very embarrassing. Thought I was terrible, I was so BIG, and every little pimple sticks out!
“We’ve actually got a couple of film things on the boil,” says he of the band. “One of the guys from Los Trios Ringbarkus is very friendly with Neil (Finn), and he’s got an idea for a film and wants us to be in it. He’s very talented.”
Hester is peculiar. Why? He doesn’t use cymbals. “I haven’t been using them for about four years. I play a real simple kit, very minimal, no electronics. For Noel that was great, because he’s got all this percussion, and he found it easy to work with me.”
Hester likes NZ, and the people. “Australians are apathetic in many ways. Especially towards the Aboriginal people. I find here there’s a more healthy attitude towards the Maori people. Maoris are easier to understand. Aborigines are nomads. The situation with Aborigines is pathetic, terrible, depressing.
“I went to Queensland two years ago. I drove into Brisbane and we pulled up at these lights, and we saw this cop car next to us. There were two policemen in the back, punching the shit out of this Aboriginal lady. This was the FIRST thing I saw in Queensland! It’s a very strict, heavy police state. (Premier) Joe Bjelke-Petersen insults everyone and plays stupid games with the press. He hasn’t a brain in his head, and he’s not even good looking.” GARY STEEL
Note from the author: It’s kind of sad revisiting this interview now that Hester is gone. He seemed a good humoured chap. I’ll have to try and dig out the original transcript sometime.
* Don’t forget to check out www.audioculture.co.nz after May 31, where you’ll find a vast repository of NZ music history.