The Narcs

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The Narcs - resident at Doodles Night Club circa 1980 (this image from circa 1984)
Liam Ryan (Keyboards/Vocals), Andy Dickson (Vocals/Guitar), Steve Clarkson (Drums) and Tony Waine (Bass/Vocals)
Other members of The Narcs had included Bob Ogilvie (Drums) and Garth Sincock (Guitar)

Having left school in 1975, singer/guitarist Tony Waine and keyboards player Gerard Moody pulled in drummer Neville Walker and took their eclectic repertoire of eclectic into the workingmen’s clubs of Christchurch as a group known as Easy, and somewhere along the way, Tony switched to bass guitar.  After two years, he took off to Australia but returned to receive his cap in commerce at the University of Canterbury.  He bumped into drummer Bob Ogilvie at the Gladstone Hotel in 1980 and they decided to get a band together, roping in partially blind guitarist Garth Sincock.  When it came time to name the group, Waine recalled a comment from an old friend a few months earlier about a band called The Police, and that next there would be a band called The Narcs .....

They scored some gigs at the Imperial before the logistical nightmare of Sincock’s impairment and the fact his wife had to drive him to gigs led to the guitarist’s departure.  Bob suggested a young guitarist he had met while playing the Sydney circuit a year or so earlier, and Andy Dickson, who had been honing his grunty power chords, but had limited live experience was in a band with Ogilvie’s former Christchurch singer Barbara Fox.  When Ogilvie phoned with the invitation to join The Narcs in New Zealand, Dickson eventually agreed to make the move to Christchurch, arriving in town on July 4th, 1980 with a fistful of his own songs, a hot-rodded Gibson Les Paul and a hot-rodded Fender Twin amplifier.  The fact he was a fine singer was an added bonus and the band organised rehearsal space at the Canterbury University.  The Narcs hit the local Pub and Club scenes with their combo of English New-Wave and Australian rock, building up quite a following, and ended up with a residency at Doodles Night Club.


The Narcs at Doodles Night Club circa 1980

The Narcs at Doodles Night Club circa 1980


After being fired from Doodles, Waine approached the Hillsborough Tavern for a gig. Despite the pub having noise problems and recently axing live entertainment, The Narcs were offered a residency as long as they "kept it down".  By the time the audience had grown to 800-odd a night, they bought two Transit vans and hit the road, gigging in Nelson, Ashburton, Timaru, Queenstown and the West Coast, and soon they were opening for Mi-Sex at the Christchurch Town Hall.  With all that under their belts The Narcs headed for Auckland, their first outing being for Graham Brazier’s Inside Out album launch at Mainstreet, and a North Island tour was organised.



The Narcs - Sydney 1985


Waine and Dickson believed the band should set up permanently in Auckland, but Ogilvie decided it was time to bow out, and so they all drove back to Christchurch, bidding Ogilvie farewell, and Waine headhunting drummer Steve Clarkson, who was playing at the Imperial with friends of Waine’s – Annie Davies, Nancy Kiel and Gary Verberne - in a covers band called Nude Wrestling.  For Clarkson, the opportunity of getting back up to the North Island and playing original music was too tempting to pass up.


Whistle While You Work - CBS 1983
(with Coconut Rough)

No Turning Back - CBS 1983
CBS Mini Album

Great Divide - CBS 1984

The Narcs - CBS 1985


The Narcs - Award winning single "Heart and Soul"


That November, The Narcs with Heart And Soul were up for several gongs at the New Zealand Music Awards.  With a lack of NZ music on the radio and a preference to wait for a voluntary minimum local content quota to be achieved, Rick Bryant, Mike Corless and others encouraged Liam Ryan to make a stand.  Heart And Soul took out Single of the Year and Most Popular Song (voted by the public), and Dave McArtney was awarded Producer of the Year and Graham Myhre Engineer of the Year at the nationally televised ceremony.   Andy Dickson was also a finalist in Top Male Vocalist, won by Jordan Luck of Dance Exponents.  On accepting one of the awards, Ryan made a comment reflecting New Zealand's being "the only country in the world where the radio announcers and television presenters have a higher profile than musicians."  Clarkson returned to New Zealand permanently in 1999, Waine in 2000 whilst Dickson has been resident in Brisbane since 1999.  Ryan recently moved back to Auckland after several years in the South Island.


The Narcs receiving their NZMA Award - 1984
Andy Dickson, Tony Waine, Liam Ryan (accepting) and Steve Clarkson

The Narcs and Dave McArtney - circa 2009
Dave McArtney, Steve Clarkson, Tony Waine, Liam Ryan and Andy Dickson


Some early publicity art around The Narcs

The Narcs - a cloth badge