The way RocKwiz producer and quizmaster Brian Nankervis sees it, people love their music and they love quizzes.
By that logic, it really is no wonder the highly-praised RocKwiz music trivia show continues to thrive on television. This June and July, the whole RocKwiz gang are touring Australia once again, dropping in at over 30 regional theatres and halls for quality nights of quiz hilarity.
Alongside co-host Julia Zemiro, producer and co-host Brian says the longstanding success of one of Australia's favourite quiz shows is simply the result of people's love for trivia quizzes and passion for music. In fact, the show itself was born from Brian's passion for music and as a former primary school teacher, his undying love for a good quiz.
“People love a quiz, but they also love identifying music. You hear the first five seconds of whatever it might be; 'Born To Run', 'Crazy' by Gnarls Barkley, 'Uptown Funk' by Bruno Mars or 'Smoke On The Water', and it's fun and people get excited.”
In the decade since its inception, the show has not only gained a larger time slot with SBS, but continues to attract bigger guests and embark on longer tours. However, Brian is most proud that RocKwiz – after a decade of production – continues to run under the original format designed for its pilot.
“It was the idea of getting contestants from the audience, with a host, a band, [guest introductory segment] Who Can It Be Now, questions, a duet and finish. It was there right from the start. We shot a pilot, shopped it around and finally SBS said yes. Eleven years later, we're still doing it!”
Since the beginning, RocKwiz has also focused on making its content as cross-generational as possible. “We make sure that not only our performers are from a wide range of ages, but also our questions. We'll have questions from the '60s and we'll have questions from the 2000s,” Brian explains.
Typically closing with a duet performance by a well-recognised musician alongside a lesser-known artist, the show further enhances its demographic reach. “It's important to give audiences new performers as well as the older ones, or the 'heritage' acts if you like,” Brian laughs.
“Over the years, we've had Olympia, Megan Washington, Kimbra, Hailey Cramer, Gossling and 360 [on the show and on tour]. We've always worked pretty hard to bring up-and-coming performers, and I think people like the idea that we are bringing them something new and opening their eyes.”
It’s obvious that RocKwiz's ability to keep their audience on their toes, through surprise guests or the occasional mishap, has been its recipe for success. What's more, Brian chuckles that unpredictability is possibly the most rewarding part of the RocKwiz Live! tour.
For the hosts, who are notorious for (and notoriously good at) improvising, the momentum that builds on tour is incomparable to television.
“The live shows follow the same structure to the TV show, but it's just bigger, looser and a little bit more adventurous. When we do the TV show, we're very limited by time and technical aspects… whereas live, it's completely different and it's very liberating in a way,” Brian explains.
“We might do an episode every week, or sometimes every two weeks, but with the tour we're often doing five shows in a row. In a way, it's a much better way of doing the show. They aren't being filmed, so it's a pure distillation of RocKwiz.” The RocKwiz Live! tour runs nationally from 9 June to 29 July. Click here for full list of dates and venues.