Fane Flaws is a fraud. The maverick maven of music, art and pop-rock video says he’s no expert, he just knows how to gather experts around him.
Expert or fraud, where others flirt with the notion of being a rockstar, Flaws really is a very rock and roll renaissance man. He makes art, gigs with his band, works on completing his multiple-album oeuvre, consults on animation and video projects; he even has an elegant bohemian girlfriend in pop-artist Jo Blogg.
But he insists, it’s all about the work, and the experts who make that work come alive.
For those who don’t know Flaws, he’s a
legend. The resident filmmaker and posterdesigner of Bruno Lawrence’s Electric Revelation and Travelling Apparition (BLERTA) in the 1970s, a member of the Crocodiles and the Spats in the 80s, director of television commercials and the animated children’s series The Underwater Melon Man in the 90s, Flaws ‘retired’ to Napier in 2002. His last live performance was in 1983.
Then, nearly thirty years later, Flaws reappeared on the music scene with musicians from the good ol’ days and some fresh new talent he’d collected along the way: No Engine got its jump-start.
“I never stopped writing songs,” says Flaws.
“But I never wanted to rush anything.”
For the thirty years between gigs Flaws was a prolific song writer and there’s 25 original songs that make up the core of the No Engine set list.
“I’d been writing new songs and I realised that if I didn’t play them, no one would hear them. You’ve got to get them out and give them life.” Flaws found the experts he needed to make the music happen. “Now I can’t stop. It’s a way of life being a song writer. As soon as you get a band together where you end up with a sound that’s so exciting, you’re hooked.”
It’s loud, lively, electrifying music – “I attack the guitar like I’ve swallowed an electric eel,” says Flaws. The band features a roster of talented local musos – whoever is available on the night takes the stage. Regulars include renowned vocal arranger Tony Backhouse and Peter Dascent from Flaws’ Crocodiles days, Andy Gladstone, Margot and Anton Wuts, Nicole Taylor and the multi-talented Willie Devine.
“If the band is having a good night there’s this magic that happens, this energy that’s very addictive. It’s really good for your soul.”
During those decades without performing Flaws was working hard. He’s a celebrated director, he took up fine art aged 50, he’s won countless commendations for design and videography. Working in a highpressure, fast-turnaround commercial production house required a relief valve and for Flaws it was his art.
“My sanity in that world was painting,” he says. He began making art full time around the same time he moved to the Bay. The Bay plays a big part in the music and the art in Flaws’ life.
“It’s somehow all manifesting in Hawke’s Bay for some reason. The way to progress all these threads of my life is here.” Flaws says. “There’s so much here. It’s a seething hotbed of underground art and music. There’s so many wonderful eccentric things happening.”
“We take it for granted,” says Flaws. “But I think there’s more happening here thananywhere else in the country.”
If you want to experience Fane Flaws up close and personal, No Engine plays at The Cabana once a month and Common Room once a month. Exact dates are posted on the venues’ Facebook pages.