As The 1B Darlings, they’d tapped glam rock, pub R&B and New York street rock. Renamed The Scavengers, Mike Lesbian (Mike Simons), Johnny Volume (Ken Cooke), Mal Licious (Marlon Hart), and Des Truction (Simon Monroe) amped it up another notch and set the New Zealand template for punk rock with fellow first wave punks, Suburban Reptiles.
Hart left just before the groundbreaking punk group’s memorable Ready to Roll appearance on October 1, 1977. His replacement was Ronnie Recent [Brendan Perry] on bass.
In late February 1978, The Scavengers were the first resident group on at Auckland’s punk club Zwines up a Victorian alley off Durham Lane West. Two band originals – ‘Routine’ and ‘Supported By The State’ – had been recorded the previous month for an unreleased single before vocalist Michael Simons also departed. Ronnie Recent took over on lead vocals.
The new trio were frequent performers at The Globe Tavern and Windsor Castle. It was in this form that they taped the best of The Scavengers’ originals including ‘Money In The Bank’ at 1ZM. In June 1978 their lasting claims to fame – ‘True Love’ and ‘Mysterex’ followed at Auckland's Mascot studios.
When punk rock’s finest hit the road to Wellington for the New Wave Special in June 1978, The Scavengers took their place on the bus down with a television documentary crew from current affairs show Eye Witness.
The Scavengers only national tour and South Island show followed. With Australia beckoning Andy Shaw shot a live clip of the re-recorded ‘Mysterex’ produced by Ray Columbus & The Invaders' Dave Russell.
The next stop was Sydney in early November 1978. A short stay, it turned out, before shifting base to Melbourne as Marching Girls.
‘True Love’ and ‘Mysterex’ were central tracks on the epochal AK79 punk compilation that was supplied to one store (Record Warehouse) in late December 1979 and released nationally in late January 1980.
Click here or on the stories tab to read more about the history of The Scavengers and their context within the NZ punk scene.
Johnny Volume - guitar
Ronnie Recent - bass, vocals
Des Truction - drums
Mal Licious - bass
Mike Lezbian - vocals
The song Mysterex was written about former lead singer Mike Lesbian.
Johnny Volume, Ronnie Recent lived in a flat in Remuera where The Scavengers practised on the front lawn. Noise complaints killed this idea after a couple of rehearsals.
Ronnie Recent returned to the UK in the early 1980s, where, as Brendan Perry, he found global fame with Dead Can Dance.
The Scavengers reformed for shows in Auckland in 2004 and 2008. Their music was compiled and released in 2003 by New Zealand music archivist John Baker.