Beneath Auckland’s Karangahape Rd and behind an inconspicuous door at St Kevin’s Arcade, local five-piece band Dick Move have gathered for years in the blacked-out Whammy Bar to play small gigs, swig beers and hold 3am deep talks.
However, there’s another item on their agenda that’s been nearly two years in the making and nearly didn’t happen at all — opening three shows for the Foo Fighters.
Vocalist Lucy Suttor, guitarists Hariet Ellis and Justin Rendell, bassist Lulu Macrae and drummer Luke Boyes form the socialist punk band that has energised crowds no bigger than 700 for almost five years.
Tonight, they’ll be playing in front of an estimated 50,000 people — easily the biggest gig of their lives.
Dick Move writes songs that hone in on topics embodied by the punk spirit: politics, social issues, privilege, and holding powerful figures accountable.
“We make music about social and political issues, and the aim is to get people fired up to make a positive change in the world — and we like to have fun while doing it,” Suttor told 1News.
The band refrains from calling themselves musicians, nor do they consider themselves activists. They consider their artistry a combination of the two inspired by real-world experiences.
“The things we write about are the things we’re talking about at the bar at 3am [like] during the election,” Suttor explained, “It’s one thing feeding the other.”
Dick Move sat down with 1News at their home venue to reflect upon their journey to this moment, discuss their upcoming shows with Dave Grohl and company, and what comes next once the stadium-size mosh pits have filed out, and all the foo has been fought.
‘Just a couple of bass players’
The band’s roots lie deep in the underground bar, with Macrae co-owning the venue and everyone but Boyes having worked there.
Dick Move began its rise in 2019 after Ellis and Rendell — both experienced live performers — recruited Macrae, their superior and a musical newcomer.
“Lulu wanted to play bass in a band, ’cause she hadn’t played an instrument before and so we were like ‘OK, let’s start a band!'” Rendell said.
“Then we were looking for a singer, we were just kinda like ‘who can we get? Who can we get?’ and thought Lucy Suttor would be good, not knowing how phenomenal she would be,” Macrae continued.
Having never been in a band before, Suttor initially rejected the invitation, saying, “It was a very scary prospect, but then we got together and had a jam, and I was like ‘this is very fun!'”
Boyes, who Rendell joked was once an “enemy”, was an outsider who quickly became acquainted with the band after Ellis’ partner introduced them to the drummer.
“He’s become the best drummer we’ve ever known, and our best friend,” Ellis and Macrae said.
They’re inspired by everything from ’70s punk sourced from the UK, to more modern Australian punk acts like Amyl and the Sniffers, Helta Skelta and Cold Meat.
“We jam it all together and bring our own bits and pieces,” Rendall said. “There’s also a big surf element to us ’cause Hariet likes that kinda stuff.”
“I like to ride the whammy bar – sorry the tremolo!” Ellis chuckled.
Rendall said because Suttor, Macrae and Boyes “are not band people”, they’ve grown as a band “as their skills at playing music progressed, which also dictated the style of music”.
“As we get better, the songs get more diverse and interesting.”
“Everyone here’s a bass player – we’re just a couple of bass players,” Macrae laughed. “I think Luke prefers bass too!”
Almost two years ago, Dick Move was ecstatic to find out they were opening for one of the biggest rock bands in the world – only to have it retracted not even a month later.
“We were put forward by Frontier Touring, and the Foos and Foos management chose us, so that was very cool,” Macrae said.
However, the tragic death of the Foo Fighters’ longtime drummer Taylor Hawkins in March 2022 meant an uncertain future for the band, and their shows – and Dick Move’s opening acts, initially set for December 2022 – were cancelled.
“It was all off the table again, and we didn’t really know what was going to happen,” Macrae said.
“We didn’t really know what was going to happen but we completely understood why the gigs weren’t going to happen.”
For over a year, the idea of playing for a Foo Fighters-sized crowd was off the cards.
“We had completely accepted that,” Suttor said.
“We thought it was cool to be asked, but I think the general consensus was that [the Foo Fighters] weren’t going to reform.”
But to the band’s surprise, session drummer Josh Freese was announced as Hawkins’ replacement in May 2023.
Less than a month later, a new tour with three shows in New Zealand was announced – and Dick Move were sent a fresh invitation to join in.
“To be asked again when they brought the shows back on last year was very, very exciting,” Macrae said.
“The Foo Fighters also request female-fronted punk bands as supporting acts,” Suttor explained. “That’s what they get everywhere they go and the last few times they were here, so it checks out!”
They’ve yet to make direct contact with the Foos, but said Grohl requested the band ship their records his way.
“Apparently [Grohl] is an avid collector – an audiophile!” Suttor laughed.
“We’ve got three chances to talk to Dave Grohl. I reckon we’re gonna go to Piha together aye?” Ellis joked.
And while they’re pumped to meet the rock superstar, Ellis says another act might be leaving her in awe instead.
“The Breeders are also playing [at all three shows] and they are one of my favourite bands of all time…” she said.
“No offence Dave Grohl, but I think I’m gonna be more starstruck with [The Breeders frontwoman] Kim Deal.”
Making Kiwi punk global
Once the dust has settled in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington, Dick Move will be gearing up for a European tour in June and July, so far having been billed for seven punk festivals.
“It’ll be our first time outside of Australasia together,” Ellis explained. “We just released an album in October and we’re riding that wave still and trying to share it with as many people as possible.
“In our live set we play the entire album. It’s like a 23-minute album so it doesn’t take long to get through.”
But while they’ve got a packed schedule ahead, Suttor says they’re also planning on writing their next album.
On the prospect of playing bigger gigs than as openers for arena rockers, Dick Move says “never say never”, but nonetheless still love their more lowkey gigs and are grateful for what big acts like the Foos can do to raise up smaller performers.
“It’s important and exciting for international bands to be coming over here and having local bands on the bill, ’cause it’s been such a rough few years with the whole industry losing momentum,” Macrae said.
“These opportunities don’t come up very often, so they’re hugely important.”
Dick Move and The Breeders will be opening for the Foo Fighters at Go Media Stadium in Auckland tonight, Apollo Projects Stadium in Christchurch on January 24, and at Sky Stadium in Wellington on January 27.
Dick Move’s newest album Wet is now available on Spotify and on vinyl.