In the late 1980s – inspired by the music and messages of Bob Marley and the growing renaissance of all things Māori – the Wellington band was a pivotal part of a push by indigenous musicians to continue the path forged by Aotearoa, Herbs, Dread Beat & Blood, Taste of Bounty and Moana Maniapoto.
There was little appetite in that era for Māori language music on mainstream radio or in the Wellington pub and club scene, which was mostly dominated by white pop and rock acts. However, a growing collusion of Māori and Pacifican musicians battled to create their own space and flavour.
“We were at the frontline of Māori music, playing material in English and te reo but a lot of our te reo material wasn’t recorded because of commercial obstacles,” says Southside of Bombay founding member Kevin Hotu.
The band became one of Aotearoa’s favourite live acts, playing sold-out shows across the country, gaining airplay across Māori radio stations nationwide and eventually landing a No.3 hit single with ‘What’s the Time Mr Wolf’ – six years after the song was written.
After several revolving door line-up changes and many years apart, in 2018 Southside of Bombay made a welcome late-career return to festival stages, claiming a permanent place in Aotearoa’s musical landscape.
For AudioCulture, Keith Newman explores the circuitous journey of Southside of Bombay in two parts.
Kevin Hotu - guitar
Joseph Fa’amaoni - guitar
Brent Thompson - bass
Campbell Tuiri - drums
Elliotte Fuimaono - bass
Warren Maxwell - saxophone
David Fiu - trumpet
Ruia Aperahama - vocals, saxophone, keyboards
Ranea Aperahama - vocals, guitar
Maaka McGregor - drums
Damian Forlong - trombone
Anne Prichard - keyboards
Christine Morris - keyboards
Elton Walker - keyboards
Kali Barton - trombone
Stephen Butts - trumpet
Damon Grant - saxophone
Evan Williams - drums