The Knobz

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The Knobz
Origin Dunedin, New Zealand
Genres Pop
Years active 1979–1981
Past members Tim Powles
Warwick Keay
Bob Reid
Kevin Fogarty
Mark Stubbs
Steve Haggie johny tuska, Peter MacManus

The Knobz were a New Zealand pop band, originally based in Dunedin, but not considered part of that city's main wave of "Dunedin Sound" bands. They became famous in 1980 with their political song "Culture?" criticising Robert Muldoon, who was Prime Minister at the time and had stated that New Zealand's pop music was not culture. Muldoon had made the remarks in the context of refusing to lift a 40% tax on sales of music.

The Knobz were fairly typical of the New Zealand pop scene in the 1980s; they were described in an article of the time as "XTC meets The Knack". However, several things set them apart from their contemporaries. They were the first band to have a self-funded single hit the top 5 in New Zealand, released on Wellngton Independent Label Bunk Records owned and run by Michael Alexander. They also managed themselves and toured extensively following chart success with two further singles - "Liverpool to America" (an opportune song about John Lennon) and "K.G.B." - and, later, an album, Sudden Exposure. They were considered to be an accomplished live act.

The band toured New Zealand before leaving for Australia in 1980, where they played with other acts of the period such as Divinyls, Men at Work, Mi-Sex, Swanee and Moving Pictures. The Knobz dispersed at the end of 1981, with some of the members moving on to other projects; most notably, drummer Bob Reid went on to play for the powerhouse Sydney band The Sharks.

The Knobz later reformed with songwriter Kevin Fogarty for one more trip around New Zealand and to promote the album Roads to Rome. The new album had been written by former band members, but these were replaced with drummer Tim Powles and bassist Warwick Keay, both formerly of Flight X-7.Carey Peterson from Auckland walk and The Visitors also joined the band as vocalist to tour with the band in 1982.

In their heyday, The Knobz can be said to have epitomised the early 80s period when punk still held a slender audience and New Romantic music was starting to make an impact.


Date of Release Title Label Charted Certification Catalog Number
Sudden Exposure Bunk Records - -


Year Single Album NZ Singles Chart Certification
1980 "Culture?" Sudden Exposure 5 -
"Liverpool to America" Sudden Exposure 42 -
"K.G.B." Sudden Exposure - -
"Big Brother" Sudden Exposure - -
"Casualties" Sudden Exposure - -
"Closer tonight" Sudden Exposure - -
"Coastal Hostesses" Sudden Exposure - -
"Cyborg Sally" Sudden Exposure - -
"Gettin' outa here" Sudden Exposure - -
"Laser" Sudden Exposure - -
"What's it worth?" Sudden Exposure - -