Friday, April 16, 2004

Stuck in Texas
Country rocker Steve Earle is in the country for some shows. Can't say I like his music, but he is one sharp cookie.
This quote is from Graham Reid's interview with him in the Herald...

Q: Do you find that when you have a distance from America you can see it differently - you mention [the song] Jerusalem [was] written in Melbourne.

A: Absolutely, because Americans are unique in that we're arguably the most insular country in the world and the vast majority of Americans never leave the country.

Q: Most don't even hold passports.

A: Yeah, even our president didn't have a passport before he was president. That's frightening.

I have heard that only 10% of all Americans ever hold a passport during their lifetimes. Thank god for the great Kiwi OE.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

OneLung
Me mate Kevin Tutt, who makes music as OneLung, has been trekking round the country as part of Monkey Records showcase tour, starting in Invercargill, and working their way north. The tour is coming to a close, with gigs in Hamilton (Friday 16 April, Catalyst), Rotorua (Sat 17 April, Bar Barella), Whangarei (Friday April 30, Adrenalin), Leigh Sawmill (Sat May 1), and The Odeon in Auckland (May 8). Get along; there's a free 16 track Monkey Magic sampler CD available on the door.
He's also got his mug in this weeks Listener, which will no doubt make his Mum proud. According to the accompanying article, OneLungs latest album (his fourth) Nu Scientist is Monkey Records biggest seller to date, helped along by the video his record company made, for the princely sum of $168.70 Nu Scientist is a tasty mash up of drum n bass grooves, lazy beats and experimental soundscapes. It's choice. Check it out.
From Flipside...
"Radar is a New Zealand comedian and this country's only known War tourist. For more about him, go to radarswebsite.com .
He appeared on FLIPSIDE on Tuesday 14 April 2004 [???]."
Read his replies to viewer questions here. Can't wait to see his film!


Meanwhile, in Stupidville...
TVNZ's website trumpets that Flipside has been so successful last year that they are increasing its running from two to four nights a week, and adding Flipside Late...

"It's double the dose of Flipside in 2004, as TV2 extends the show from two to four nights a week (Monday - Thursday, at 6pm, with Flipside Late on-air at 10.30pm).
Flipside 's extended format is due to the positive results from research conducted by both TVNZ and New Zealand on Air, says TV2 Manager of Programmes, Julia Baylis.
"It's an initiative TV2 has been working on for some time and we are very proud to see it continue to grow this year, as part of our expanded and ongoing commitment to youth programming."

So why have they now shifted it to the deadzone of 5pm weeknights? Are they determined to lose their audience? (according to Radiation, "rumour has it that it will be replaced altogether, just as it has become established... Presumably, it's a victim of its own success").
I have enjoyed catching Flipside - its lively, entertaining, intelligent, and often more engaging than TV3 or One's News hour (Hello TV3 - a publicity-shy Lotto Winner is not a lead story - the escalating violence in Fallujah is). Anyone in their twenties who has a day job will no longer watch it, which surely must be part of their youth audience. Bill Ralston, wake the f*ck up. Thank you. (And I didn't even mention the Charter, or Headliners.)


I missed this, but Flipside did a good story on Martin Emond's passing. There's a video clip of their item. His friends talk about him, and Steve from Illicit says that they are opening an Illicit tattoo shop up on K Rd, as a tribute to Marty - he had just started training as a tattooist in LA before he died, and Steve notes that if Marty had a home anywhere, it was definitely on K Rd. Throw up ya goats.

Illicict has put up some photos of Marty and the text of part of his memorial service. Its worth a read if you gave a damn about Marty.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

How Bizarre
I missed some of the weekend papers, due to being outta town for a meaterific time (ie the long weekend I ate meat), but I caught up with the Sunday Star Times article on whatever happened to Pauly Fuemana of OMC fame [have added article at bottom of this post]. Its a lurid piece of journalism from David Fisher, that throws up some entertaining tales of the dizzying heights of international superstardom...

"Alan Jansson (cowriter and producer of How Bizarre): "We were in a restaurant and Pauly said: 'The next album will be drum and bass'. His manager said: 'That's great Pauly, all bands have a drum and a bass'."
Too many people talking in Pauly's ear, and it all came down to lawyers.
"Jansson and Pauly, who penned the hit together, needed lawyers to sort out their problems. Mega-star Pauly came to do battle flanked by four lawyers from Russell McVeagh, says Jansson, whose only lawyer was called John Wayne. "I had The Duke," he cackles."
Points off to the Star Times website getting Fuemana's name wrong in the headline - "How bizarre - What's happened to Pauly Faemana?"

Amazon.com has some amusing customer comments on the OMC album...
"Take Ray Romano, ship him off to New Zealand and have him write music instead of comedy and you might have Pauly. The lyrics are witty, yet if you turned your back on them, they just might bite you on the behind. The instrumentation is tight, yet, just a bit off. As far as Pauly's vocals, um, I guess I'm just not used to New Zealanders rapping. But it's much more refreshing than anything Vanilla Ice ever did."

"I sincerly hope that "OMC" is active and creating back in his own country and we MTV lamos have just lost track of him due to our top-ten-sensitive-only-radar. This album showed glimmers of what could be a real talent two more albums down the road and perhaps they've already been released outside the U.S."

"It's a shame people probably only remember this as a novelty/one-hit wonder-it is so much more.The 90's were probably the worst music decade ever, but this saved it... If you like Paul Simon,Moby, or Poi Dog Pondering's first 2 albums-you will love this."

"I bought this album thinking OMC meant Old Man's Child and the guy picture on the cover of the album was just a twisted joke by the guys in the band. But no this is not Old Man's Child..."
Someone labels Fuemana as a Hispanic rapper, another suggests he's a punk Maori. If you want a copy there are 203 copies up for grabs in the new and used section, starting from $US0.01.

Following 'How Bizarre', Pauly starred in a movie in 1999, that was the feature film directing debut for Matthew Modine, who also wrote and took the lead role. The stinker is called If... Dog... Rabbit... (aka One Last Score) - Pauly played a character called Mister Scary. But check the cast list, and you'll see he wasn't the only Kiwi in the cast - Soane Filitonga (DJ Soane) plays Tod.

Seven years on, it's still pretty incredible to think that this groovy song from a lad from Otara topped the charts in 20 countries around the world. Whether Pauly comes back with something new or not, that's an achievement that no-one will ever take away from him. Right on.


DIY Marae - I wrote about it a few weeks back, and now the NZ Herald has discovered it. Good on them, aye? Tuesday night, 7PM til 8. Check it if you can.
"Tonight in Tauranga there's the barbed wire on the dunny wall. Rawinia has her theory: it's there to hang the loo paper on, or to keep the peeping toms out.
There's the wildly excited guy, watching his marae get a makeover, amazed that the young people are getting involved. Normally, he says, they won't even help "the aunties do the dishes or nothing man.
"They'd rather kick back and smoke in the car - you know that sort of thing."
This is community television. So last word to that guy: "I reckon it's wicked, bro. I love it, bro."
Can we call it cuzzie bro television? Sweet.


Originally published in Sunday Star Times, via stuff.co.nz - spelling typo in headline is from their website.


How bizarre - What's happened to Pauly Faemana? 11 April 2004 Sunday Star Times


It's the classic one hit wonder story - poor boy makes good but then disappears from sight. David Fisher charts the story behind singer Pauly Fuemana whose moment in the spotlight was a global phenomenon.

Pauly Fuemana sang "want to know the rest, hey, buy the rights" - then vanished.

He was King of the World, an Otara kid on a wild and crazy ride. How bizarre it all was.

Can't find Pauly to buy the rights now. He's still vanished, and likes it that way.

So I took the rights without asking. And this is the Pauly Fuemana story.

There was always plenty to tell, but Pauly didn't want it told. By the time his shooting star had returned to earth, he was sick of it - so many people wanting a piece of the universe he had made his own.

So he slipped away. A home in Auckland's Birkenhead for a few years, a quiet retreat to the north of the city . . . then nothing.

Pauly was huge, bigger than New Zealand ever realised. He's not now, and he knows that, though it took him a while to understand it.

The Fuemana sound was sweet pop from the hip-hop of South Auckland. The 1994 album Proud was one of the first whispers to escape - as brother Phil Fuemana puts it - the hood. "You don't know me, you haven't seen what I've seen/ So you could never really understand what I mean," sang Sisters Underground on Proud. That could have been Pauly's song, then and now.

He was on that album, on a track from OMC, the Otara Millionaires' Club, titled We R The OMC. For Phil, the music was already happening but Proud brought it to the nation, care of producer and songwriter Alan Jansson, whom he wryly describes as "some sort of great white hope".

When Jansson saw similar comments in print, he rang Phil and the pair butted heads. "I didn't tell you where to get off, I helped you to get on," Jansson said.

Pauly turned up, banging on Jansson's door. "Bro, no one has ever talked to my brother like that," he said, and stayed for a while. More than a year later the two would write the song that would make them rich.

But first there was the OMC. Pauly was living cheap, buying clothes from opportunity shops and at one stage living in a garage.

The first Big Day Out concert was opening, and the OMC was one of two acts to perform in New Zealand and tour Australia.

"Three nights before he left, Pauly and I sat down, and this is how prolific he was, we wrote eight songs," says Jansson. "We did that in the old kitchen of the studio."

One of those songs had the working title: "Big Top" and worked off the notes C-G-F. The lines "How Bizarre" and "buy the rights" would come later, as would the hit.

It was being refined all the time, says Jansson. "Pauly sang: 'Every time I look around, you're not there' and I said ONeeds some work bro'. It became . . . 'you're in my face'.

"Pauly can say it was all his, but I know who did what," says Jansson. He still owns half the song. "I said to Pauly, let's make our goals. Let's make number one in America. At that stage there were only about 840 songs that had been number ones. That was the goal. By getting in there, you are one of the best."

On that Australian trip, Rolling Stone reviewer Clinton Walker watched OMC and wrote: "Fuemana is an absolute natural, a man who sings and moves with the sharp easy grace of a young Marvin Gaye."

Jansson: "I went to see Simon Grigg (of the Huh! indy label). He said of all the bands you are working with at the moment I'm only interested in working with Pauly."

"Alan (Jansson) played me a demo and I said: 'That's pretty good'," says Grigg, with some understatement.

The song, by then, was what you hear now. "We'd tried different things," says Jansson. "Then Pauly came in one night and said 'you know how you are always saying how bizarre all the time? My missus says that too. Let's try that'."

Jansson and Grigg jumped a plane to Sydney to see Polygram where the record label's then number two, Adam Holt predicted: "This will be top five if not number one in Australia."

New Zealand had little idea of the magnitude of Fuemana's achievement as "How Bizarre", number one in Aotearoa and Australia in 1997, was picked up by UK radio DJ Chris Evans, at the height of his popularity.

Top of the Pops, the biggest music television show in Europe, wanted Pauly, a 27-year-old who'd been to Sydney but never this far from South Auckland.

He was treated like royalty in London, says Jansson. Chauffeur-driven cars at the airport, hotels, the finest restaurants, the first waves of fawning, bowing and scraping music industry types.

Grigg: "Pauly at that stage is going 'what the f–- is going on'. We got to meet the Spice Girls, Cher, and Paul Weller. It was amazing."

Then it crossed the Atlantic when a radio station in Buffalo started playing the song and alerted its New York affiliate - "the biggest radio station in the world", says Jansson.

Pauly had made it.

Grigg: "He was taken from Otara to living in an expensive hotel in New York and being feted by the rich and famous. He got a lot more insular, a lot more private, a lot more protective."

When you get that high, you find there's very few who can breathe the thin air up there. The myriad of executives and helpers moved in and, says Grigg, "were trying to turn him against Alan, and by association, me as well. People were saying 'you don't need these guys anymore"'.

There was new management, and new people running Pauly. Jansson believes "that's where Pauly and I fell apart. It drove a wedge between us".

And the money started coming. "It must be hard to never have had any money, then these massive cheques arrive through the mail," says Grigg.

"Pauly spent it like water," said one former friend.

Jansson: "The money was rolling in . . . You can stick the fame. But f–-, the fortune is amazing. Instead of just looking the part, he had the cash stocks and bonds to go with it."

Both Jansson and Grigg are critical of the handling, after the hit, of Pauly's career - including the remake of Randy Newman's "I love LA" for the Mr Bean movie.

Jansson: "We were in a restaurant and Pauly said: 'The next album will be drum and bass'. His manager said: 'That's great Pauly, all bands have a drum and a bass'."

It got bitter at times. Grigg remembers one manager asking: "Does Alan Jansson want more than one track on Pauly Fuemana's greatest hits?" "I said: 'Does Pauly Fuemana want more than one track on Alan Jansson's greatest hits?'"

Jansson and Pauly, who penned the hit together, needed lawyers to sort out their problems. Mega-star Pauly came to do battle flanked by four lawyers from Russell McVeagh, says Jansson, whose only lawyer was called John Wayne. "I had The Duke," he cackles.

"Since then, I haven't really talked to Pauly."

Pauly stayed in the US, working with a number of new producers. Nothing was released.

In mid-1998, he married long-time girlfriend Kirstene Gee, the mother of his three children. Pauly had left Otara behind and now lived in leafy Birkenhead, although he did get married in South Auckland - even if it was on exclusive Puketutu Island in the Manukau Harbour.

A year later he was back in the US playing Mr Scary in a Matthew Modine film If . . . Dog . . . Rabbit. It was a difficult time - torn between the US and home, trying to make it while being a husband and father.

Meanwhile, Pauly poured royalties from "How Bizarre" into his management and music company, OMC Ltd. Recording equipment was bought and he continued singing and writing, under pressure to produce another hit. Again nothing was ever released. Anything he produced, even those follow up singles on the How Bizarre album, would be measured against that song.

Phil Fuemana, who runs successful South Auckland hip-hop label Urban Pasifika, says Pauly wasn't looking for the music. "Music just sort of fell on him. It was a moment in time. He got rich and came home to New Zealand to his wife and family."

As the song got less air time and royalties dropped, Pauly's spending didn't, according to accountants' reports for OMC Ltd, which went into liquidation a few years later. Credit reports show debt collectors started looking for the well-hidden star.

"It wouldn't be very nice when it comes to an end and you see who your friends are," says Jansson.

Those who know say this doesn't mean Pauly is broke - the success of the song will provide a comfortable living for years, perhaps the rest of his life.

Few in New Zealand appreciate how great his fleeting success was. Phil has an award for Pauly hanging on the wall at home. It has 20 flags on it - one for each country "How Bizarre" went number one in.

"I was f–-ing proud, eh. We had a really big party when it went big in the UK. And it was because Alan and Simon believed in our brother.

"You can only wish to have a hit like it. When Pauly made it, for us, it was like we made it. We shared in his fame. We all got something. We made it out of the hood.

"He f–-ed the whole world. He f–-ed the whole lot of them. It was just a moment. It was a rush for a second. How many seconds do you need, once you start banking the cash?

"Does he have to come back? If he wanted to, he would have."

Phil points to the brilliance of current Kiwi hip-hop, and wishes the record industry would show the same faith in artists such as Che Fu and Scribe and release their work abroad.

The record companies and music money-men can leave his brother alone: "Make Scribe or Che the new 'How Bizarre' . . . don't try and dredge up the old one."

Pauly is a private man, says Phil. They see each other on family occasions, but other than that, he rarely goes out.

Sunday Star Time understands Pauly and Kirstene have moved to Albany, to a modest home with a swimming pool. This year, for the first time in years, Pauly's music has an audience again, although a small one. Mike Chunn, the former Split Enz bassist has demos he is touting around town.

Phil says if Pauly is making music again, it will be his own, not something manufactured for him to sing.

"We came from simple dreams. We didn't want to be huge huge . . . we just wanted to support our families.

"That's where you'll find him, somewhere in suburbia. You won't find him. He doesn't want to be found.

"If you're looking for Pauly, turn the radio on, request his song and there he is."

Pauly yells "we're outta here"

Kirstene says "right on"

We're making moves and starting grooves

Before they knew we're gone