Suburban Reptiles Profile

David Aidan
Published: 27 May 2013
Updated: 3 Oct 2018

The Suburban Reptiles and The Scavengers, both from Auckland, were the first 1970s styled punk bands in New Zealand.

Punk came to New Zealand rather hesitantly. The global explosion which began in the US in the early to mid-1970s and then spread to the UK was completely ignored by the media and record companies in New Zealand; the likes of the Ramones and the nascent scene that surrounded them rated nary a mention in Hot Licks, New Zealand’s pop magazine of the era. When English punk arrived in late 1976 we had no real rock and roll press, as Hot Licks had shut up shop in the middle of the year.

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Suburban Reptiles in Grafton, Auckland, April 1978. Top to bottom: Tony Baldock, Buster Stiggs, Billy Planet, Jimmy Joy and Zero.
Photo credit: Photo by Jeremy Templer. Simon Grigg collection.
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The Dominion street poster the morning after Buster Stiggs had thrown a drumstick into the audience at Victoria University in August, 1977. A girl was accidently hit and the papers blew up the story, causing vigilante type operations against both The Suburban Reptiles and The Scavengers, with Johnny Volume being beaten a couple of nights later in the university toilets.
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The Suburban Reptiles at 52 Cuba Street, Wellington, May 9, 1978.
Photo credit: Simon Grigg collection
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Buster Stiggs, pop star Richard Wilde, Zero, Jimmy Joy, Colin Lum from Phonogram at the Megaton single release party at The Poenamo Hotel, Takapuna, January 1978.
Photo credit: Photo by Murray Cammick
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Zero at The State Dance, February 18, 1978.
Photo credit: Photo by Jeremy Templer
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The Suburban Reptiles with stand-in guitarist Johnny Volume at the August 1977 Students' Arts Festival at Victoria University. The band are setting up and The Scavengers' Des Truction is also seen. From left: Des Truction, Buster Stiggs, Johnny Volume and Jimmy Joy.
Photo credit: Photo by Wayne Hunter
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The Buster Stiggs designed poster for Saturday Night Stay At Home, using an image from the 1950s. The poster was recreated in the 2014 7-inch reissue of the single.
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Razorblade Rosie
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Buster Stiggs at the Classic Cinema, 3 December 1977
Photo credit: Photo by Jonathan Tidball
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The Suburban Reptiles wish RipItUp a Merry Xmas, December 1977
Photo credit: Murray Cammick Collection
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The Suburban Reptiles in Onehunga, June 1977: Shaun Anfrayd, Jimmy Joy, Billy Planet, Sissy Spunk, Buster Stiggs, Zero. Taken before the Marcellin College which saw them featured on every weekend paper's front page that week.
Photo credit: Photo by Simon Grigg
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Before a gig at a private party in Massey, West Auckland, Zero checks her makeup in Jimmy's shades, early June 1977
Photo credit: Photo by Simon Grigg
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Zero
Photo credit: Photo by Murray Cammick
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The Suburban Reptiles and 52 in a handmade flyer for a gig at 52 Cuba Street in April 1978. The Suburban Reptiles had an ongoing association with the inventive Wellington band, with whom they felt they had more in common with than the increasingly conservative Auckland scene.
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The Suburban Reptiles above the Classic Cinema, Queen Street, January 1978. The BBC interview with the Sex Pistols had been turned down by TVNZ.
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Megaton
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Jimmy Joy, Zero, Buster Stiggs, Billy Planet, Bones Hillman. Taken for a fashion shoot by an Auckland Star photographer, October 1977.
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The 1978 NZ tour poster overposted with a gig with Wellington's 52 at their home base in Cuba Street
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Flyer for a December 1977 Classic Cinema party. The Suburban Reptiles did a series of these gigs.
Photo credit: Simon Grigg collection
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Bones Hillman and Jimmy Joy, Classic Cinema, Queen Street, Auckland, December 3rd, 1977
Photo credit: Photo by Murray Cammick
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Albert Park, February 1978
Photo credit: Photo by Murray Cammick
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Jimmy Joy and Zero - Classic Cinema, December 3rd, 1977
Photo credit: Photo by Jonathan Tidball
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Suburban Reptiles in the Neil Roberts-directed Eyewitness - punk television special (1978)
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Zero all dressed up for The Rocky Horror Show, September 1978
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Saturday Night Stay At Home video with Phil Judd
Photo credit: Photo by Paul Hartigan
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The Suburban Reptiles, Queen Street, Auckland, 21 October 1977
Photo credit: Simon Grigg collection
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State Dance, October 1978. The Suburban Reptiles were advertised but split shortly before this and were a no-show
Photo credit: Design: Philip Peacocke
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Riverhead Rock - Zero gets arrested
Photo credit: Photo by Murray Cammick
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Saturday Night Stay At Home
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The Suburban Reptiles play Albet Park, Auckland, 1978
Photo credit: Photo by Murray Cammick
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The Suburban Reptiles in Auckland's Jean Batten Place, October 1977. L to r: Jimmy Joy, Bones Hillman, Buster Stiggs, Zero, Billy Planet.
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The crowd at The Suburban Reptiles Radio Hauraki concert in February, 1978
Photo credit: Photo by Murray Cammick
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Zero and Jimmy Joy in an invitation to a private party above Auckland's Classic Cinema, November 1977
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The Suburban Reptiles, mid-1978: Billy Planet, Jimmy Joy, Zero, Buster Stiggs and Tony Baldock
Photo credit: Simon Grigg collection. Photo by Paul Hartigan
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The Suburban Reptiles in Queen Street, Auckland, 21 October 1977
Photo credit: Simon Grigg collection
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Trivia:

The first pressing of Megaton had the despised Roger Dean designed 'prog' Vertigo label. It had been requested by Simon Grigg to indicate irony.

Buster Stiggs passed away in January 2018, in Perth, W.A. Brian Nicholls died in a traffic accident in Wellington in the 1990s.

Zero, Jimmy and Brian Nicholls were members of the Sideshow Theatre in Sydney in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The band's name was in part inspired by the David Bowie lyric 'he smiles like a reptile'.

Trish Scott's son, Joel Little, would, in the 21st Century co-write and produce the global smash 'Royals' with Lorde.

The guitar used by Billy Planet on the Megaton single was formerly owned by Lou Reed and used on the Rock'n'Roll Animal and Transformer albums. It was loaned to Billy by Johnny Volume.

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Labels:

Vertigo

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Members:

Zero - vocals

Jimmy Joy - saxophone, vocals

Billy Planet - guitar, bass

Buster Stiggs - drums, guitar

Bones Hillman - bass

Tony Baldoch - bass, guitar

Shaun Anfrayd - guitar

Johnny Volume - guitar

Sissy Spunk - guitar

Phil Judd - guitar, keyboards

Roland Morris - bass

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