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Splash Alley

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Splash Alley
Chris Moore (Guitar), Dick Driver (Vocals), Paul Mason (Guitar), Paul Scott (Bass), Kevin Emmett (Drums)

Paul Scott came up with an idea - and a name - in early 1979.  The idea was to form a group with Chris Moore (a guitarist he had met on an earlier trip to Christchurch) and who was friends with another guitarist Paul Mason, whilst another friend, Kevin Emmett, played drums.  Moore, Emmett and Mason had earlier responded to an advert in Christchurch's CJ's Music Shop, placed by a female singer from Australia who had a vision for a band called Eve and the Apples.  After a rehearsal they had decided the Eve and the Apples concept was not them, but agreed to keep in touch.  Moore made himself known to Scott, at a university party, by standing on his glasses.  The second rehearsal was just the four of them, Emmett, Moore, Scott, and Mason - and the chemistry was there from the beginning.  While musical tastes were diverse in the new group, they had Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, The Sex Pistols and Lou Reed in common.  For the group's name, Scott recycled his old Timaru College band's handle, Splash Alley.  They found a singer in Richard (Dick) Driver, a tall, wild-haired motorcycle racer, late of long-haired punks The Doomed.  Driver looked the part and had been on TV as well as in the papers.  He recognised in Paul Scott, a self-effacing and humble character, but with the determination and focus needed for a successful commercial pop group.  Scott was constantly thinking about and listening to music and coming up with words and sounds.  Initially they were a covers band, their set cribbed by Scott from Christchurch pub rockers Vapour and the Trails at the DB Gladstone, where Al Park's group had a near residency in the first half of 1979.  In the main it was high-octane rock and sharp pop, but many originals poured forth.  Their first gig was at The Dux de Lux on the old University of Canterbury campus and the crowd definitely liked what they heard.  When The Swingers swung through Christchurch in late August for attendance-record-breaking shows at the Hillsborough, Splash Alley opened, returning the following week with Vapour and the Trails.

 
 

Mainstreet 1980
"Into The Eighties Tour"
Chris Moore, Dick Driver, Paul Scott, Paul Mason


Splash Alley
Chris Moore, Kevin Emmett, Paul Scott,
Paul Mason and Dick Driver


Splash Alley
Publicity shot
Kevin Emmett, Chris Moore, Paul Mason, Paul Scott and Dick Driver

 
 

In mid-September they were in the morning daily Press, where a striking photograph caught them in a mood of menace and mystery.  The journalist found the group in good humour, describing their sound as commercial power pop, second wave and energy rock, and talking about a move to Australia.  At that point they had been together for three and a half months.  Supporting Dragon in the Christchurch Town Hall, they gained more coverage in The Press under the headline Street Fighting Men coupled with another great pic of the group, with Dick in front wearing a striped tie and op-shop suit jacket burst out at one shoulder and Paul Scott partly hidden under a long black fringe - a classic new wave shot.  When Bon Marché vacated The Aranui to promote their cover of Phil Judd's So This Is Love? Splash Alley moved in for seven weeks, starting in early October 1979.  The experience was valuable as they honed their set and stage skills.  They were 3ZM's group of the month for October, and their prize was a chance to record four songs - Commercial Airways, Skinny Girls, Texas and Too Cool For Words.  With Christchurch ostensibly tamed, and successful out of city shows in Ashburton and Dunedin, the north was calling strongly.  The fast accelerating live scene in Auckland and the big North Island provincial city pubs, paved the road to Australia.  Dick Driver organised organised a heap of North Island gigs, and they put together the Into The Eighties tour heading north in early December.  In the early 1980s, Hamilton's Tavern Hillcrest was the main venue for touring groups.  They would stay in the pub's band house, practise and write new songs in the morning in the bar, and win over the locals in the evening, but Auckland proved harder to crack. The scene was polarised and clique bound and already serviced by a confident set of groups when Splash Alley played their first shows in January 1980, at the Potter's Wheel in New Lynn and the Station Hotel.  Back in Christchurch in February, the band was renamed Pop Mechanix.