Sunday, August 23, 2015

How Bizarre: Simon Grigg's amazing tale of a song

Simon Grigg's brand new book How Bizarre documents the tale of one of our greatest musical successes - it's just hit the shop this week. 

I still remember the first time I heard that song - I knew two things about it: one, it was local, and two, it was going to be huge. It had that kind of hook that you just knew.

From NZ Herald's Russell Baillie: 'Grigg says the urge to record his own take on the Bizarre story came after attending Fuemana's funeral, where, as the book recounts, he and Jansson had been threatened by fellow mourners and told to "pay up".

He thought it was time he told his and Jansson's side of the story. He didn't have a book in mind when he first started writing.'

"I felt that when Pauly died it was the end of a really unique thing that happened in New Zealand. If I didn't write it then probably nobody else would ..."

Baillie notes that 'It's possibly the first insider's account of New Zealand and international pop industry politics, set in an era of excess before the digital era and the music industry's contraction. It captures the ride as the song went from the sound of the Kiwi summer of 96 to international chart topper.'

Elsewhere's Graham Reid reviewed the book, observing that "How Bizarre briefly changed the musical landscape in New Zealand and fired people here with pride and optimism, and altered the lives of Pauly Fuemana, [co-writer and producer] Jansson and Simon Grigg on whose Huh! label the song appeared.

Pauly – who died in early 2010 at just 40 – is no longer around to put his side of the story, but you could guess that it might still constantly change according to his mood.

... However this is not a Fuemana biography (although some of that obviously peppers the pages) but rather the story of the making of a great song from unpromising source material (Jansson's gift) and how a piece of music could be marketed.

In the latter regard it's also a story of the inside workings of record companies (PolyGram's boss in New Zealand couldn't hear a hit until he was pressed by Australians to get behind it) and how control over the song — and by association Fuemana's destiny — was gradually wrestled from Grigg's control.

In the regard this is an extraordinary story, and that makes this book unique in New Zealand publishing."

More: The story of OMC and their smash hit is captured in a TV documentary, How Bizarre directed by Stuart Page – best known for the Skeptic’s AFFCO music video.

Radio NZ's Trevor Reekie talks with director Stuart Page, OMC producer and co-writer Alan Jansson and Simon Grigg from Huh Records, who released the record.

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