Interview: Brian Nankervis on TV Show Turned Extravagant Show RocKwiz Live

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RocKwiz Live returns in April, performing in Warragul, Bendigo, Geelong and Narre Warren.

After 14 seasons, 117 episodes and countless tours across the country, the TV show has blossomed into the extravagant spectacle RocKwiz is considered by many to be an Australian music institution, with many music fans swapping drinks before the gig Saturday night to stay home and watch the show instead. This adulation has led the show’s beloved hosts, Julia Zemiro and Brian Nankervis, to be considered the supreme operators of the music industry today.

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After bringing their unique blend of kwiz, comedy and live music to Cairns in February, Brian, Julia, Dugald and the rest of the RocKwiz crew will be in their element when they hit the road in April with four dates of very special regional tours. .

“I was talking to Julia the other day and we were talking about how much we loved being in Cairns,” said Nankervis, co-creator, producer, judge and writer of RocKwiz. “We hadn’t done a regular RocKwiz gig in about a year and we were saying after the show that it’s funny how we instantly got back to it. And I think that’s a bit of muscle memory, you see ?

“We’ve done so many of these tours where we do it night after night. I think in 2017 we did about 25 shows and so when you do it night after night it’s really exciting because you find something the first night and then the next night after the show you think ‘oh It worked well, let’s do it tomorrow night’. So you put it in and it might work again, or maybe it doesn’t quite work, and then on the third night you change it again and that’s what we do with these regional shows.

“It’s really good for us because we like to change it. Julia’s experience is in improvisation and this is one of her strengths; I change the questions every evening so that the interpreters are not complacent. So it’s very exciting.

While Cairns has proven to be special for the RocKwiz family, this will be RocKwiz’s first proper tour since before the pandemic, having performed only a few very select stage shows over the past three years.

“We were supposed to do a 28 show tour in 2020 and then of course it got postponed and it became a 2021 national tour and then it got postponed, and it’s really big extended tours all over Australia . So we had to make some changes in these new times and we will now do shorter races. So we have four in a row in Victoria and then I think later in the year we’ll go to Queensland and we’ll do four in a row there.

Based on the hit TV format, upcoming live shows will see Zemiro, Nankervis, RocKwiz Orkestra and the Human Dash, housewife Dugald’s choice all take to the stage, with top stars and entertainers up-and-comers alongside the contestants (or should that be tragic musical trivia?) selected from the audience.

As usual, Zemiro, Nankervis and the team will then lead the evening with all the manic fun we’ve come to expect from the revered trivia game.

“I’ll be in the lobby before the show, so if people think they have what it takes to be part of the show, they should come find me and I’ll do a little test,” Nankervis says of the show’s participation. audience.

“That way I find about 18 potential candidates. And then once we get into the theater, the first half of the show, it’s me working with the whole crowd, and then with the people on stage. is great, we make people sing, we make people dance and it’s pretty funny.

Presenting a show without studio constraints, Nankervis credits much of the success of the RocKwiz tour to Zemiro who brings to the show a sharp wit and honed stagecraft after years of acting. The French-born TV presenter (and Nankervis too, for that matter) has a knack for having fun with the contestants and inducing thunderous laughs at the same time.

“I have all these routines that I do in the first half, but then Julia really drives the second half. And the public loves it. I mean they know her from the TV show for all these seasons, but they also know her from ABC shows, like Home Delivery and a range of other shows and they feel connected to her.

“People kind of become very loyal to the show and they watch it and they watch the rehearsals. And then I watch them when they walk into the theater and they look at the curtains and the desks and they see Dugald do this he’s doing as a roadie and they just can’t believe it. They think, ‘wait, suddenly I’m on my favorite show.’

“But then they find out it’s a little bit bigger and it’s a little bit louder and then rather than being 40 minutes it’s going to be an hour and a half and mistakes happen and unexpected things happen and there is no assembly. There is no storage for the television. So it’s really exciting; it’s just a complete joy to do.

While the draw of the shows is its rotating roster of Australian rock royalty and a rock house band, the upcoming tour will see a brand new band take the stage for the first time in RocKwiz history, in due to scheduling conflicts with Paul Kelly’s regional tour. .

“It’s going to be interesting for us because three of our band members are in Paul Kelly’s band and Paul had to reschedule a bunch of shows and we just happened to cross dates for those regional shows.

“So we’re taking a new band with us for the first time. Clio Renner, who has been our keyboardist for most of the past 10 years, is now our musical director and we have a few new members in the band and I have to say I think it’s going to be good. It’s good to get things moving. »

“But as always, we have Julia, we have Dugald and myself and we have three very special guests. Of course, I can’t tell you who they are. It’s the RocKwiz with tradition. It would spoil that beautiful moment when Julia says, “Who can it be now?”

“But I can tell there’s a mix of newer artists and household names.”

Capturing an untapped audience of Australian music lovers who had outgrown video and Channel V hits, and were starving to be taken seriously, the SBS-programmed music quiz not only provided music lovers with a chance to improve their acquaintances for more than a decade, but it also introduced new artists who could be invited to the show, which Nankervis says has remained intrinsic to the show’s enduring appeal.

“One of the first shows we filmed, we had Paul Kelly, and we asked if there was anybody he’d like to play with. And he said, ‘Well, there’s a new band from Perth who I like to call Little Birdy. So how about having Katie Steele, the vocalist? We did that, and it worked so well and it set the blueprint for what RocKwiz is .

“There was a familiar name associated with someone that people didn’t necessarily know yet. It became the plan. We realized quite early on that the public liked the idea of ​​discovering new talent.

“I think it’s important not to just kind of have the same old artists. This is important for artists who have been around for a long time; people love them and I think it’s important to support them, but it’s just as important to have new artists.

There are so many things that RocKwiz does well. As well as being an essential part of the Australian television landscape and an entertaining creative outlet for the artists who appear there, these unique RocKwiz live events are one of those things that happen just enough to make it special, without exhaust their welcome.

“We did 117 episodes of the show in the old Gershwin Room, but now we’ve been able to adapt that to a live show and it all feels very organic and still very special to this day,” Nankervis says.

“We all started out as live performers; Julia in theater and improv and my background in stand-up comedy and then the band, they’re all live performers, so it was pretty natural to get out on the road.

“Even though at first it was like, well, ‘does it work away from the small play?’, once we did that first show for Moomba, then the Palace Theater and the Enmore Theater and the Homebake Festival, we quickly realized what this show could do and how well it works in theaters and at festivals.

“We try anything and, and I think because of our experience and people loving the show, it usually works.

And it really is.

Whether you are a RocKwiz fanatic or not, this event is meant to be a special one. Buy your RocKwiz Live Tour tickets here.

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