It was during long stretches at sea that Andrew Fagan recorded his new album, Act Normal.

The album from new wave group Andrew Fagan and The People was released last week after delays throughout a three-year period during which he spent months working aboard a cargo ship throughout the Pacific.

Little wonder Fagan describes the writing process as a creative odyssey, as he talks down the line from his ship in Auckland Harbour.

Act Normal the new album from Andrew Fagan and The People is out now. Photo / Supplied.
Act Normal the new album from Andrew Fagan and The People is out now. Photo / Supplied.

"It's always been hard to coordinate everyone and get together in one place to rehearse and then to actually record," Fagan says, sounding like a Kiwi Captain Haddock over sounds of lapping waves and squawking seagulls.

"But, also, the last few years I was working on a cargo ship going from Tauranga to Pitcairn Islands. I would be offshore for six months of the year, so that really slows things up.

"I started writing the songs about four years ago and then it's been an odyssey to actually put it all together.

"We got there so I'm pleased. Another collection of songs and it's out there forever."

The skipper of the still-active Mockers has carved out a career spanning more than 40 years, stretching back to his days as frontman of punk-rock group The Ambitious Vegetables.


Act Normal arrives as the long-awaited follow-up to The People's 2011 debut, Admiral of the Narrow Seas, and comes after the 2018 release of Fagan's spoken word poetry album, It Was Always Going To Be Like This.

The 57-year-old is known just as well for his exploits on the water. In 1994 he created a record for the smallest vessel to make a return trip across the Tasman, and in 2007 he navigated his way around New Zealand.

Working on the high seas may not seem like a convenient place to produce music but Fagan says the isolation only benefitted his songwriting.

Andrew Fagan performing for The Mockers back in 1985. Photo / NZ Herald.
Andrew Fagan performing for The Mockers back in 1985. Photo / NZ Herald.

"It was absolutely brilliant," he says. "I was a watchkeeper midnight to 4am looking out the window and steering making sure we didn't run anyone over.

"I wrote all of the songs while I was on the ship off-watch. I had my mobile recording studio with me and I just demoed the songs.

"You're tucked away there with no distractions and somehow the rhythm of working in the mornings, everything just fell into place. Even finding sounds for songs, it was almost automatic, it was already constructive.

"There was always a lot of background noise with aircon and the engine and a lot of times it was really rough but all of that was just a minor distraction.

"In terms of the creative process it couldn't have been better really."

Fagan remains proud of his legacy with The Mockers, who enjoyed commercial success in the 80s with singles One Black Friday and Forever Tuesday Morning.


However, he admits it took him years to be able to look back and appreciate the band's place in the Kiwi music landscape.

Andrew Fagan sailing aboard Swirly World. Photo / Supplied.
Andrew Fagan sailing aboard Swirly World. Photo / Supplied.

"I turned away from it for 30 years and then in 2017 we did The Mockers reunion," he says.

"What surprised me was how many people came along to those shows, and also how many songs they knew. Because The Mockers ended quite abruptly when I just ran off to England in 1987.

"We'd played so much and had played so many gigs that I got overly familiar with it. I got a bit complacent about it, really. I didn't realise how many people we'd actually played to and soaked through to.

"I don't mind where it sits. The Mockers were what they were and when we play with those guys we do those songs justice. I think we play them better now than we did then, to be honest."

His career goals have shifted over time, with Fagan explaining he now makes music simply "to amuse myself", while another ambitious sailing expedition also remains in his sights.

"I've still got my little sailing boat and I'm slowly prepping it for another offshore trip. I don't know when that will be.

"There's a lot to do but I'm slowly putting it all back together. While I was away for those three years I neglected it a bit.

"But I'm getting stuck in now, which is good, and I'm hoping to do another decent trip."

What: Andrew Fagan and The People album release show with support from Snapper and Chips
When: February 21
Where: Anthology Lounge

What: Midge Ure and The Mockers: Platinum Sounds 2020
When: March 6
Where: The Powerstation