Legendary NZ rocker

I phoned Maurice Greer about  his upcoming gig in Tauranga, thinking he probably lived in a rock legend haven somewhere in the hinterland outskirts  of Auckland.

As it turns out, he just lives down the road in Papamoa. It was a beautiful day when I popped by, and we set off for a coffee at none other than Phil’s Place at the Bridge Marina.

Phil Rudd’s touring drum kit is on display there, and it was certainly surreal to be sitting below it chatting with another legendary drummer.

Maurice is Mr Human Instinct, and is set to light up Tauranga on January 13 with a high-powered night of rock. The stand-up drummer and lead vocalist will be joined by fellow Human Instinct band members Phil Pritchard on lead guitar, and Tony Baird on bass.

“We’ve also got Josh Durning – he’s playing second guitar,” says Maurice, “and I’ve got Bill Ward in the show. He’s from the Four Fours and an original Human Instinct member.

“I‘ve got mystery guests being plucked out of the crowd. There’s some real heavyweight legends going to be there that night.”

The buzz of excitement is high around this January gig at The Entertainers Club. Located upstairs at Tauranga Citizens Club, the show will also provide the opportunity for event-goers to enjoy dinner.

Play Misty will open the show, followed by Human Instinct, featuring Maurice and friends, playing a cross section of material from their earlier years through to their latest album, Midnight Sun.

“There’s going to be a lot of pop songs from the 60s, then we’ll bring it up a bit and get it moving,” says Maurice. “We’ll come back a bit more full-on in the second set.”

He reflects on some of their more recent concerts, including playing in Seoul in front of 30,000.

“We’ve played there three times. They liked us so much in 2005 that they had us come back.

“It was just fantastic.”

Human Instinct played the main stage at the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival in South Korea in 2007, in a line-up that included Fall Out Boy and Muse. The three-day rock festival, held annually at the end of July, is considered one of the largest live music events in South Korea.

“It was beautiful, with a mountain backdrop,”  says Maurice, who burned up ears with his legendary drum solos.

The band returned in 2009, this time playing  the Jisan Valley Rock Festival, performing  alongside Oasis.

The New Zealand blues rock band, has been active since the late 1960s.

“I think we were the first band to leave New Zealand shores, even before Split Enz,” says Maurice. “We went (to the UK) in 1966 and were there until late ‘69.

“It took us a while to get off the ground. We were starving in a flat in the middle of London.

“Then we played at the Zebra Club in Soho on New Year’s Eve, from about six at night until six in the morning. I think we got five pounds each.

“We then had an audition, but had to drive about 150 miles from the north of London to a hall for the audition. We’d had no sleep, and it was all about the rock and roll.

“We got there and found all these bands lined up against the wall also waiting to audition.

“They all had their Volkswagens and Austin vans painted up in flower power.”

It was the Woodstock period, and Human Instinct found themselves quickly booked and touring.

“We played at the Isle of Wight Festival - it was their own sort of Woodstock.

“We did a six week tour with Small Faces and Roy Orbison, and played support for Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart at the Marquee Club in London.

“We also played support for Cat Stevens and did a six week stint at Hugh Hefner’s Park Lane Playboy Club. And I sat in for rehearsal drumming, playing with Mark Knopfler when Dire Straits rehearsed for their Western Springs concert.”

Human Instinct emerged from 1950s pop band The Four Fours, formed in Tauranga in 1958 by drummer Trevor Spitz. The foursome rapidly became one of the most sought-after bands in the country.

Maurice had his first band at the age of 14, and set up a popular nightclub, The Pink Flamingo, in Palmerston North. Known as ‘the teenage wonder drummer’, he converted his drum kit into a stand-up unit, which he felt was better for his vocals and drumming. In mid-1966 he joined the Four Fours, just in time to record their biggest hit Go Go/Don’t Print My Memoirs.

The band toured as support for The Rolling Stones on their 1966 New Zealand tour and sailed to the UK in the August, changing their name en route to Human Instinct.

“We thought our name didn’t sound cool enough, so we each wrote a name on a piece of paper, put it in a hat, and I drew out one. It was Human Instinct, so that became our name,” says Maurice.

The band has had more than 25 members and has changed line-ups several times since its formation under Maurice’s leadership.

They have released seven albums and 30 singles, with their most recent album, Midnight Sun, released in October 2010.

Burning up Years, Stoned Guitar and Pins in it were produced under the Pye record label; Snatmin Cuthin and The Hustler with Zodiac Records; and Peg Leg - The Lost Tapes in 2002.

The band is best-known for their single and signature song Black Sally and their album  Stoned Guitar.

“We did the first album in 1969 when we first came back from England,” says Maurice, “and I’m starting to record a new CD now.”

Tickets to the Human Instinct show brought to you by The Entertainers Club are available via Tauranga Citizens Club on 13th Avenue. Copies of the original albums will be available to buy on CD.