Comedian and Rob Muldoon imitator Danny Faye guested on the single. The band claimed in their press release that they were “forced into independent release when ‘Culture?’ was pronounced ‘politically hot’ by EMI, who subsequently refused distribution rights.” EMI had distributed the first Knobz single six months prior.
The infamous single was recorded at Wellington's Marmalade Recording Studio and produced by musician/Radio With Pictures director, Peter Blake. ‘Culture?’ was released Monday 20 October 1980 on Bunk Records, a new independent label created by the band in conjunction with music writer Mike Alexander.
The initial pressing of 500 copies of the single quickly sold out and WEA took over manufacture and distribution. The single stayed in the Top 40 charts for 16 weeks, reaching the No.5 spot. The track also appeared on Vol.28 of Solid Gold Hits. The success of ‘Culture?’ helped their prior single ‘I Like It’ to enter the charts in November 1980 for three weeks, peaking at No.42.
The Knobz played the main stage on the Friday night of the 1981 Sweetwaters Music Festival and then drew a massive crowd to the Aerial Railway stage on the Saturday afternoon.
Signing directly to WEA, the band gifted Bunk Records to Mike Alexander who moved it to CBS where his slogan was “helping young bands get on to vinyl.”
After the departure of Stephen Haggie, the band started 1981 with a new keyboard player, Kevin Stanton (real name Mark Stubbs) from Flight X-7, plus Johnny Tuska (real name John Fogarty) on sax/vocals/percussion. The Knobz played the main stage on the Friday night of the 1981 Sweetwaters Music Festival and then drew a massive crowd to the Aerial Railway stage on the Saturday afternoon.
The band released their single ‘Liverpool to America’/‘K.G.B.’ to coincide with the festival (No.42, three weeks on chart).
After playing Sweetwaters, The Knobz recorded their album Sudden Exposure at Mandrill Studios, Auckland with Alan Galbraith producing and Graeme Mhyre engineering. The first single taken from the album was ‘Sudden Exposure’.
The band started their 22-date national tour to promote their debut album on March 30 in Taupo and concluded the tour in Auckland April 25. The Knobz had some bad luck when the door takings from two nights at the Gluepot were stolen from their motel.
The band then moved to Australia, where WEA Australia released a 12-inch EP with six songs from the album.
A new line-up of The Knobz debuted in New Zealand at the 1982 Sweetwaters Music Festival, after working in Sydney for several months and recording a new EP Roads to Rome. Only Kevin Fogarty remained from the original line-up, with Corey Peterson (The Visitors, Auckland Walk) added on vocals and Australian keyboard player Noel Kennedy (The Nauts). The new rhythm section Warwick Keay and Tim Powles had previously worked together in Flight X-7. After a New Zealand tour, the band planned to return to Australia.
Mark Stubbs (Stanton) passed away in 2005.
Kevin Fogarty is a teacher in Auckland and highly regarded in the New Zealand Ukulele community. He's patron of the NZ Ukulele Festival and has a solo album Rock That Uke.
Kevin Fogarty - guitar, synthesiser, vocals
Stephen Haggie - rhythm guitar, keyboards, vocals
Peter McManus - bass, vocals
Bob Reid - drums
Mark Stubbs - keyboards
Johnny Tuska - saxophone, vocals
Warwick Keay - bass, vocals
Noel Kennedy - keyboards, vocals
Carey Peterson - vocals
Tim Powles - drums
The Knobz created and sent a crossword to media that tested their Knobz knowledge.
Not slow to jump on a current event, The Knobz made a positive contribution to John Lennon's death by releasing the single 'Liverpool To America' and all royalties went to Yoko Ono's Spirit Foundation. It reached No.42.
John Fogarty was the former owner of the Blarney Bar at Dunedin's Empire Tavern
Kevin Fogarty is the patron of the NZ Ukulele Festival and has written a book, Ukulele World.