The title of their second, final album asked Where are the Boys?. Now, almost 39 years later, we have an answer: the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame.

Dave Dobbyn turns to fellow Dude Peter Urlich and says, "It was out of the blue wasn't it?"

"It's fantastic," Urlich says, genuinely excited, before reliving the moment he found out that Th' Dudes, the band formed with schoolmates Ian Morris and Pete Coleman before recruiting bassist Lez White and drummer Bruce Hambling, were to be inducted at this year's music awards on November 14.

"I was on Waiheke staying with some lovely people," the former frontman says. "We'd been talking about Th' Dudes at dinner because they were huge fans and wanted to hear some stories. Later, in bed, I thought, 'I'll just check my emails... Oh, wow!' I went and woke them up and we opened a bottle of champagne."


Dobbyn, guitarist and vocalist says, "It's a great thing for the audience and for the band, it gives everyone their due. We worked our asses off!"

"We did," Urlich nods.

"We played and played and played," Dobbyn continues. "One time we played 62 schools doing lunchtime concerts. A lot of those people still come up to me, with their kids and grandkids, and say, 'I remember seeing you at Nelson Boys High School.' I never take it for granted. I've got Th' Dudes to thank for the audiences that I've had."

Such is the Th' Dudes legacy that it's astounding how short-lived the band was.

"It was very brief, barely two years of being professional," Urlich says. "We were going a little bit before that, but when we turned professional and made an impact was only two years. We squeezed a whole lot in."

He's not wrong. In that brief, blazing, period between 1978 and 1980 the group toured relentlessly, shook up the local pub circuit by insisting on necessities like motels to stay at and enough power for their PA system, endured an atrocious time trying to break Australia ("It still sends shivers through me now," Dobbyn says; "I wasn't tough enough," Urlich adds) and, over two albums, Right First Time and Where are the Boys?, released four true Kiwi classics; the arty sneer of That Look in Your Eyes, the pleading epic Be Mine Tonight, the propulsive pop-stomp of Walking in Light and, of course, the booze culture parody that ironically become a drinking anthem, Bliss.

"Yeah, rock 'n' roll's a bit like that," Dobbyn says of Bliss' journey.

"It's from Australia where we saw huge crowds drinking huge amounts of beer," Urlich says. "They were so crammed in they'd finish their can, go to drop it on the floor and couldn't because they were so squeezed."


"We couldn't believe it," Dobbyn says.

"When we brought it back it was supposed to be a comment on Australia but people here said, 'We're just as good!' and it became a drinking anthem," Urlich laughs.

Throughout their career Th' Dudes were often labelled as, in Dobbyn's words, "cocky brats", but why?

"The Sex Pistols came on the scene and they hated rockers like us. Between the skinheads and the punks, they didn't really like us. But some had a begrudging respect for us because of the fact that we could write good pop songs."

"And play," Urlich adds.

"We were snotty, though," Dobbyn laughs. "But for professional reasons. We probably were unreasonable to a certain extent, but hell, if you want things to change you have to get up somebody's nose."

While crediting their rock solid rhythm section, the pair say the diverse listening taste of its core songwriters, Dobbyn, Urlich and Morris, is what gave Th' Dudes their edge. Citing influences from hard funk through to American folk, as well as usual suspects like Led Zep and The Beatles, Urlich says, 'We had music coming out our ass."

"We took it all and distilled it, you wouldn't recognise it, but it's there in our songs. I'm really proud of that," Urlich says.

"The criteria was to get people dancing and it worked really well. You have to put it down to the songs really," Dobbyn says. "The songs have lasted. I don't really know if we have, but the songs have."