Name about town turns anti drink-driving ‘legend’

Till now he’s probably been better known as a bouncer at The Yot Club.

Or maybe you’ve seen him down at the Yotty pumping up the crowd as a rhythm guitarist/singer with rising six-piece band Lost Tribe Aotearoa.

But lately the big, long-haired, ever-smiling, tattooed Tux Severne is popping up on our television screens as one of the main characters in the New Zealand Transport Agency’s newest drink-driving advert.

His small-screen exposure was about as unexpected as Lost Tribe Aotearoa’s sudden rise to success this year after decades of Tux and his “cuzzie-bros” jamming together in a shed.

Tux was just back from the band’s Rize Up tour playing to full houses on the East Coast when the Chronicle quizzed him about his lucky acting break.

It was the end of summer, Tux recalls, and he was down at Indi cafe “having a good ol’ yarn” with mates after a surf. Then two old fellas approached and one said “you guys are perfect for me”.

Their proposition “seemed legit”,  so Tux and a few mates headed off to a house in Raglan West to do a bit of role play and sign up. “They were looking for rough-and-tumble surfer types and ever since I’ve been on a journey,” laughs the 30 year old, whose real name is Robert.

So why Tux? “Because I was a hungry little kid and Grandad or Dad, can’t remember which, caught me eating dog biscuits one day,” he explains.

Tux was surfing in Noosa when the New Zealand Transport Agency ad first aired late last month and wasn’t prepared for the barrage of texts, instagrams and Facebook messages from surprised friends and family members.

“I told nobody about it,” he said. Their reaction was “pretty crazy”.

As for now being famous in Raglan, Tux revealed he was on TVNZ’s reality music competition The X Factor a few years back – singing and playing guitar – but only made it to bootcamp “so it doesn’t really count”.

The new ad continues NZTA’s ‘Legends’ anti-drink driving campaign and shows two young Kiwis – Tux and Piha surfer Elliot Paerata-Reid – in a dilemma about whether their mate is fit to drive.

The pair fear that if he was to crash on the way home they wouldn’t be able to get into a fictitious Boneyards, their favourite surfing spot, which is guarded by angry custodian Mad Mick. After running through other unlikely possibilities in their minds – that Jason Gunn or the Nek Minnit guy might calm Mad Mick – they run outside and catch their mate just in time to dissuade him from driving.

“It’s a bit of a trippy concept,” Tux concedes, but a plausible one for him given his work at the Yotty where courtesy cars are provided to get nightclub patrons home safely.

Tux says the sequence was filmed in a few places like Ngarunui and private farmland beyond Whale Bay where there was one 5am start to get the gate scene.

Other well-known Raglan surfers were used as extras, he adds.

It was a fun experience Tux would be happy to do all over again. “Who wouldn’t! I was treated like a king for four days.”

The sometime surf instructor and kayak guide was also stoked to be paid enough to live comfortably for a while.

That suits Tux who likes to make money in winter, he says, “and cruise through summer”.

Edith Symes