Is this a bit weird - but can we get a selfie at the end?

Of course.

The actor Jordan Mooney is amazing as you. Is it an unnverving experience, seeing someone else as you?

I got to meet him and we hit it off straight away. But down the track, during filming, I jumped up and said flipping heck, it's a doppelganger. He had dyed blond hair. The way he was moving - the way they all present themselves on stage - it was uncanny. So I was beside myself. Ha!


What did you think when the idea of a TV drama was first put to you?

The people who were doing the Sunday-night theatres were saying, we've done a lot of doom and gloom, murders and you know what we haven't done - a musical one. What's a fun band we could do? And various bands were mentioned. As soon as Exponents came up - ah! they said that sounds like fun.

There seems like very little difference between your private and public face - is that fair enough?

I find all New Zealand musicians to be that way. Ego-less. Or at least the survivors are. If you could call us that.

Do you think it's hard to meet your heroes sometimes - are you ever too wowed to speak?

I know what you mean. I loved meeting John Hanlon and when I first met Shona Laing, in the 90s, I going "wow!". When I first saw her I thought she wasn't from here - I might've been 10 or 11. Down the track you realise how much work goes into having a music career. By the time you've met Bowie and the Stones, they're just people, you know. It's not name-dropping.

There is a real joy in your lyrics. You're not very morose.

The songs I try and make - if there is a downbeat lyric I'll try and put an upbeat melody. And if it's upbeat lyric I try and put a more reflective downbeat melody so it's not cloying or icky. You say loving things but in a dark way. I'll Say Goodbye Even Though I'm Blue - it's a doo-do-do-doo-la-la-la - it's so happy sounding but it's a song about a funeral. If you put black on a black canvas then it's just black. Deaf kids came along to a show one night - one said "wherever you guys are playing, there's dancing and a good vibration". They can't hear it but they feel it. This is before ecstasy and stuff; they're all having a really good time.

Musician Jordan Luck. Photo / Doug Sherring
Musician Jordan Luck. Photo / Doug Sherring

When were you last rocking it out in the audience?

At Black Sabbath they had pretty across-the-board ages. People were raising their beers or a pint and it's spilling, I had a trumpet. A boysenberry trumpet. I wanted to join in. I was 54. The 2013 tour. It was dark music but over time it's become a happy vibe.

What was the audience like for DE, way back then?

In the early days the pub scene was really quite violent. Then in the 90s with ecstasy it got so happy. Pub managers didn't like it. They would go "Jordan, you've had 500 people here tonight and all they've been doing is drinking water and orange juice."

There's a line in the show about the drummer having charisma - what would you rather have, charisma or talent ?

I'd go for - do I have to choose something? They go together don't they? A talented person is charismatic. Tim Finn - put him on stage with Crowded House - it didn't matter where they put him. He's the most whackily talented and charismatic person I've seen on stage.

You are an instrument, what are you?

A cello or a harp. I just like saying "harp". They're both beautiful looking instruments. Harpo Marx found a harp -- he was 45 or 5. He took it home and started learning. He found out down the track that not only was it out of tune, but that he played it backwards. So, facing him.

The Exponents story featured in the Sunday Theatre Why Does Love on TVNZ1.
The Exponents story featured in the Sunday Theatre Why Does Love on TVNZ1.

What's your favourite tipple these days?

When I first stopped drinking I really liked coconut water and back then - 2013 - there were only two varieties. Now you can get about 27. But my favourite is sparkling water. Kiwi Blue with a dash of lime.

If you are drinking sparkling water has it altered your songwriting?

I never really wrote drunk. Part drinking and part not-drinking. Let's say that over time lyrics become a lot harder because you go to write something and you have to be conscious that you might be singing it in 20 years. I have a catalogue that's quite good. Melodies still come thick and fast.

What do you like to watch on TV?

I'm a good binge watcher. I'm watching The Good Wife at the moment. And I got into things like The X-Files.

Technology changes the way of everything. Does it necessarily mean, with social media and all the rest of it, that you you get better music and bigger audiences?

Definitely. You can sell out tours on the basis of three or four singles rather than albums. Graham Downes and I had a great convo about this - the integrity of the album has disappeared. Essentially it's down to the listening time. Twenty minutes on one side - that's the length when they first started pressing. They figured that's a good listening time. So artists would create their music track by track. That's disappeared.

You could call it a society of singles. So kind of like the 60s again, when people bought more 45s.


The Dance Exponents - Why Does Love? Sunday 16 July, 8.30pm on TVNZ 1 as part of the Sunday Theatre season.