David Pinker was the brother of The Features' drummer James Pinker, and fronted John. His fellow 18-year-old band mates, Jock Lawrie (drums), Mark Staufer (bass) and Graeme Harris (guitar) shared an enthusiasm for the mutant disco of Public Image and more angular sounds of Wire and Gang of Four, with their lyrics exploring sexuality, gender and identity issues.
Songs charting societal attitudes to the sight of two men kissing ('Please Be Honest') while homosexuality was still a criminal offence revealed a brave stance in 1981's turbulent political environment, and reflected the mixed sexuality of the band.
Early support from Chris Knox lead to support slots for The Clean, in turn garnering coverage in the Sunday Star. However, the band’s wilful contrariness led them to go to perhaps unnecessary lengths in the press to distance themselves from any association with the then ascendant Flying Nun sound.
John were asked by Dalvanius Prime to represent the city's nascent post-punk sound for a 1981 showcase of up and coming bands at Auckland’s Mainstreet concert venue, which they did, and the band gigged regularly throughout the year, building up a solid and regular fanbase. Although happy to share the stage with the Screaming Meemees at the Reverb Room, John had none of the latter's obvious commercial appeal. By the end of 1981 the band had inevitably imploded, with Pinker fleeing into self-imposed exile in London’s Isle of Dogs.
Pinker remains in London. Jock Lawrie's name would turn up in years to come as a writer on music and arts in Pavement magazine (his extended and definitive Pauly Fuemana interview was a cover feature for that magazine in July 1996). He now lives in Dunedin.
A footnote in the rock and roll history of Auckland, bands such as John, however briefly they burned, were an important part of an exciting and vibrant inner-city scene in the early 1980s that has remained largely unrecorded.
Mark Staufer would go on to become a major FM radio personality in the 1980s as one of The Top Marks. He's now a well known US based author and screenwriter.
Jock Lawrie - drums
David Pinker - vocals
Mark Staufer - bass
Graeme Harris - guitar