Mark Tupuhi's St. Lucy began with the split of Jah'na in 2001, and the re-release of Jah'na's Acoustic Pop album - repackaged as Why We Hate Decaff (and assorted tales) by St Lucy - in 2002. In the same year Tupuhi, performing solo as St Lucy, won the York Street Acid Test singer/songwriter competition at Auckland's Temple Bar, signed to Jody Lloyd (of Trillion)'s She'll Be Right Records (self-described as "New Zealand's only natural accent record label"), and commenced recording St Lucy's actual debut EP Loyal? at York Street Studios. The name "Loyal?" was chosen as a form of idol assassination-meets-anti-marketing tactic. Tupuhi had been upset when his former hero Dave Dobbyn rewrote, repackaged and re-released the song Loyal as the new theme song for the New Zealand America's Cup sailing team. Lucy's Loyal? not only questioned where Dobbyn's loyalties lay, but was also named with the express intention of marketing the EP to foreign tourists visiting the Viaduct Basin during the America's Cup 2003. The name "St Lucy", on the other hand, was a reference to what NZ Musician magazine described as "an unfortunate run-in with actor Lucy Lawless".
This was to mark only the beginning of a prolongued and unrelenting campaign waged by St Lucy against "Kiwiaana" and the "cult of personality" within New Zealand popular culture. For a gig supporting Ian Morris in Auckland, St Lucy put out his own posters defaming the image of television's Charlotte Dawson, and was threatened with legal action by Dawson's lawyer if he did not "cease and desist" immediately. Far from it, the list of casualties would eventually include TV presenters Mary Lambie, Jason Gunn and the judges of NZ Idol; the "thumbs up" Four Square Man; Neil Finn; "NZ Hiphop" (in its entirety); NZ On Air; local stations Contact FM and UFM; the Battle of the Bands, Clinton magazine, just about any individual in some way affiliated with Contact or the Htown.co.nz website; this wiki; Johnny Fist, The Datsuns (and especially Dolf de Borst's bass guitar), Chuganaut... not even his friends and fellow bandmates were safe. Ultimately, even Tupuhi himself would fall prey to the merciless parodying of alter ego Lucy.
"The plan was always to build St Lucy from a solo thing into a band thing... at the moment we're putting together a superband, made up of people from bands that I like... But don't mention any names, 'cause I'm the star"
The live band comprised Tweeter's Paul Fitness on drums, Holdfast guitarist Joe McNamara, and Mark's former bandmate Zed Brookes who joined on bass when the Brookes/Tupuhi-fronted Wonderbug (formerly Schrodinger's Cat) disbanded. For recording at York Street, however, Tupuhi and Brookes played alongside session drummer Paul Atkins and backing vocalist Rebekah Williams. The first 50 copies of Loyal? had already sold by January before it was even released. It was officially launched on 21 March 2003, with a release party at Auckland's Temple Bar, which Mark himself failed to turn up at for "health" reasons.
Later in 2003 a second "companion" EP, Bio-Psycho-Social, was released on She'll Be Right. Taken from the same York Street sessions as Loyal?, Bio-Psycho-Social is perhaps best described as the Driving to Mary single/remix EP, containing four new versions of the song. Remixes are included by She'll Be Right labelmates Trillion and Deadly, and a Barbershop vocal arrangement and performance by Otis 'Odee' Williams. Other tracks are the uncharacteristically loud, dark and gritty Armpits (and other bits) (an unreleased Wonderbug song), and the more 'typical Lucy' acoustic numbers Her and Shiny Dancer.
Inspired by the possibilities suggested from the inclusion of mp3s of every song he had recorded since 1997 as bonus content on Bio-Psycho-Social, in 2004 St Lucy became increasingly focused on his own unique brand of "DIY multimedia" (or perhaps "antimedia" would be the correct term). St Lucy releases during 2004 included videos, computer games, publications and beverages.
Loosely termed "promotional video clips" for a number of Lucy tracks were assembled and disseminated on the internet. Most notable were several alternate clips for Bio-Psycho-Social's Armpits (and other bits), which had quickly become the "follow-up hit" to Driving To Mary. Armpits clips were composed largely of plain black-and-white text, in which Tupuhi rants, raves and swears at great length about his personal hardships, shows a mutilated and profusely bleeding Four Square man (his misappropriation thereof in logos, flyers and CD cover artwork now having become synonymous with Lucy), makes use of Twin Tower footage for fun, and pays homage to the local broadcasting industry, thus: "Thanks for all your fucking help New Zealand On Air... fuckers". Another "promotional" video closely resembles a terrorist hostage video, in which Tupuhi threatens to assassinate TV presenter Jason Gunn unless granted State funding to produce more St Lucy music and videos. During the same year the St Lucy Times (pictured) was released in response to the publication of the Chuganaut News (recalling events surrounding a 'rogue' issue of Clinton). By this time Tupuhi, who was having a spot of bother with a member of a certain motorcycling enthusiasts' club, had fled to the refuge of number 9 Kitchener Street, whereupon the kitchen table was the St. Lucy Times published.
A new live St Lucy was assembled during this period. Odee (also resident of Number 9) replaced Zed Brookes on bass and backing vocals, while budding sound-designer, producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Morgan Samuel joined on guitars, treatments, keyboards and sound-tech. Fifteen year old Mack Lynn took up the drum-stool. Undoubtedly the loudest incarnation of Lucy, number 9 was soon regularly besieged by Noise Control. Between late '04 and early '05, St Lucy appeared at the Vampyres' Ball (apparently the result of absurdly labelling themselves a "goth" band so often that people started to believe them), played at the one year birthday party for the newly revived Contact FM, and made regular ventures to Auckland and Wellington. The Contact show was broadcast "Live to Air", and released the following day by St Lucy in mp3 format.
As 2005 progressed St Lucy also teamed up with Bregiz to produce a St Lucy shockwave game. Inspired by real life attempts to promote and manage St Lucy live shows, the object of the game is to keep Tupuhi from falling over long enough to play an entire St Lucy song (Armpits).
In September 2005 the St. Lucy song Keep Away, produced and reworked by Jody Lloyd, appeared on the Trillion album The Gray Between Shadow and Shade – a project falling half-way between an original album by one artist and a compilation of many, showcasing both Lloyd’s solo work and collaborations with many others from the She’ll Be Right stable. Tupuhi also appeared as a guest musician on two albums by Christchurch’s legendary Hip Hop pioneers Dark Tower released simultaneously by She’ll Be Right in 2005; The Dark World and the instrumental album The Pacific Scandal.
St Lucy meanwhile recorded their own album, The Lost Art Of Self Destruction, produced by Morgan Samuel and released on She’ll Be Right in 2005. The band proved that the art was not lost at all, promptly imploding upon the album’s release.
Mark moved to Maunganui, and later Raglan, but regularly returned to Hamilton for Lucy shows, both solo and with guest musicians.
St. Lucy was sometimes Mark Tupuhi solo (acoustic guitar, vocals) and sometimes Mark Tupuhi and others. The following were some of the more regular line-ups:
St. Lucy Mark I (2003-2004):
St. Lucy Mark II (2004-2005):
- Mark Tupuhi: guitar, vocals
- Odee: bass, backing vocals
- Mack Lynn: drums
- Morgan Samuel: guitars, treatments, keyboards
St. Lucy 2005-2006 is sometimes St. Lucy Mark II, and sometimes:
or other times:
Other performers have included Pete Fountain, Karen Gibson, Rebekah Williams, Paul Atkins, Mark's daughter Te Aroha, Chelsee Woolaston, Jody Lloyd, and possibly others.
- Why We Hate Decaff (and assorted tales) - CD EP - (self-released, 2002)
- Loyal? - CD EP - (She'll Be Right, January 2003)
- Bio Psycho Social - CD EP - disc also features multimedia - (She'll Be Right, November 2003)
- The Lost Art Of Self Destruction - CD Album - disc also features multimedia - (She'll Be Right, 2005)
- Driving to Mary appears on the 2004 promo CD NZ on Air Indie Hit Disc 27
- Keep Away appears on the 2006 compilation Area 07
- Tsunami appears on the 2016 compilation Lost on a Highwire
- Hamilton's St Lucy Gets the Package Just Right, Waikato Times, 17 December 2002, P2