Why does love do this to me?

Ricardo Simich,
Spy News,
Publish Date
Saturday, 1 July 2017, 4:04PM

Sundays are for washing — and doing the reminiscing.

Expect Exponents-inspired earworms on July 16, when the back story of the band that wrote the nation’s favourite anthems (all together now: Victoriaaaah!) opens the TVNZ1 Sunday Theatre Series.

It’s 36 years since Jordan Luck, Brian Jones, Steve “Fingers” Cowan, David Gent and Michael “Harry” Harallambi formed the legendary Kiwi group first known as The Dance Exponents.

Now a tele-movie is telling-all about the band’s first decade.

Spy caught up with Jordan Mooney, 28, and Matariki Whatarau, 31, who will play Luck and Gent.

“To be honest, I didn’t even know there was a Maori dude in the Dance Exponents till I got the audition brief from my agent,” Whatarau says — though he does remember being an 8-year-old eating Weet-Bix for breakfast with songs like Who Loves Who the Most on high radio rotation.

“On hearing I’d been cast, I began listening to their songs [on avid repeat], and it dawned on me very quickly how iconic and important they are to New Zealand.”

Historic footage of Gent in action resonated with Whatarau.

“The wildness, the freedom, the energy! Things we both share.”

Director Danny Mulheron had the actors rehearse together as a band for almost a month before shooting began on The Dance Exponents — Why Does Love?

Whatarau, a member of the Modern Maori Quartet, is no stranger to musical showmanship but says, “it’s a bonus that I got to do two of my favourite things in the world — be in a band and play pretend”.

He says though the music is the star of the film, “for me, the close friendship and love that Jordan Luck and Dave Gent had is the most interesting part of the story”.

Mooney, who plays charismatic frontman Luck, met the now-54-year-old singer several times, “absorbing” his character.

“I had 63 costumes. It was diverse, outrageous, punky and basically everything you want out of the 80s. I do my best to crank out an 80s look at least once a week. The 80s is cool.”.

He says the film is about “the trials and tribulations” of friendship.

“It’s an expansive journey. There’s tons of amazing gigs, a ton of beers, a ton of laughs, plus all the rock n roll in between of course.”

The film also features the people who inspired that music. “Victoria”, Luck’s real-life one-time landlord, will be played Jessie Lawrence. “She represents a poignant moment,” says Mooney. “The relationship is definitely explored. It’s very sweet and plays a unique tone in the film.”

What did the band think of their TV portrayal?

Whatarau: “They were so humbled that a film was made about them and they loved it. Dave had such a massive smile on his face when he shook my hand and gave me a hug. The Dance Exponents are Kiwi legends and I’m stoked to be a part of honouring them.”

Mooney: “How could they not have loved it? We play better-looking versions of themselves — their words not mine!”