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Blindspott Named Top Kiwi Band in Competition

Blindspott Named Top Kiwi Band In National Competition

New Zealand music fans have shown they think Kiwi band Blindspott truly does "rock" after casting thousands of votes for the hard-core group and making it the overall winner in the Air New Zealand Zephyrs Competition.

The competition, organised by Air New Zealand in conjunction with Capitol Records, was designed to find the country's favourite emerging band from a selection of six of the strongest and help that group break into the lucrative international music scene.

Along with being named the top band in the competition, Blindspott will receive $30,000 worth of Air New Zealand travel and a broadcast quality Panasonic DV video camera valued at $4000 to capture their trip.

Air New Zealand Manager Marketing Michele Teague says the airline and the other contributors to the competition, Capitol Records, the ZM radio network, Sounds music stores and Panasonic, are absolutely delighted with the response to the competition.

"In just three and a half weeks thousands of votes were cast by New Zealanders in support of their favourite band, a number seen by the music industry as exceptional for a competition of this kind," says Ms Teague.

"Air New Zealand congratulates Blindspott on winning the competition, and we hope the $30,000 travel prize helps the band successfully take on the international music industry - we'll be watching the guys closely in the coming years!"

Other bands featured in the national competition were Goldenhorse, Goodshirt, Salmonella Dub, Tadpole and The Brunettes.

Blindspott isn't the only winner in the Air New Zealand Zephyrs Competition. By just voting in the competition, Malcolm Anderson of Oamaru has won a private gig by Blindspott in his backyard as well as $5000 worth of Air New Zealand travel, a broadcast quality Panasonic DV video camera valued at $4000 and 100 CDs.

The Air New Zealand Zephyrs Competition, which ran throughout New Zealand Music Month, is modelled on the airline's popular television commercial featuring a young band, The Zephyrs, landing a record deal after flying to LA to play on a rooftop in front of Capitol Records. The theme for the commercial is "Being There Is Everything".

The competition followed the release of the single from the ad, titled "Something New", sung by vocalist John Barker and written and produced by Liquid Studios. The single is available through Sounds music stores and is played on the ZM network, along with other radio stations around the country.

Last week "Something New" debuted at number three on the New Zealand Music Charts and is being included in the third annual "Top of the Pops" compilation CD for the New Zealand market.

Editor's note: A fact sheet on Blindspott and photographs of the winner's announcement, which was broadcast live on ZM, accompany this media release

Photo caption: Air New Zealand Vice President Marketing & Alliances, Ed Sims, announces Blindspott is the winning band in the Air New Zealand Zephyrs competition live on ZM.

About Blindspot

Blindspott is comprised of Damian Alexander (vocalist), Shelton Woolright (drummer), Marcus Powell (guitarist), Gareth Flemming (bass) and Karl Vilising (turntablist). They released their self-titled debut album in 2002, intent on making a savage dent on the New Zealand music landscape. That they did. The album went number one the first week of release.

Blindspott formed in 1997 before anyone in New Zealand had even heard of Linkin Park or thought of using a DJ with rock music. With a staunch commitment to bad language, uncompromising in-your-face lyrics and all things West Auckland, Blindspott set out on an assault course to win hearts and minds over with their trademark heavy rock sound.

Their debut single ‘Nil By Mouth’ sold out on its first day of release. Despite being told to change the lyrics to make the song work on radio, the band stuck to their instincts. Right they were, even with its limited production budget music critics called it “an anthem waiting to happen”. Three radio hits later – ‘Room to Breathe’, ‘S.U.I.T.’ and ‘Lit Up’ – the band is set to explode.

Blindspott members started the hype themselves, making stickers and plastering them all over town and eventually it turned to recognition. Guitarist Marcus says their music has an audible honesty for fans. “It doesn’t have that fake element about it, I think people can pick up on the fact that we enjoy our music, and they can feel that,” he says.

Then there’s the diverse ‘throat’ of vocalist Damian Alexander. He grew up listening to rap, metal, Cat Stevens and Coldplay and explains that whatever voice part the song needs, he will give it. “If it’s a real punchy fast riff, you do a rap, there’s no point singing because it’s not going to fit.”

Since the band provided their first video to M2, their singles have remained in the top 10 and stand out as favourites among viewers. This, along with significant radio play and support has seen the band garner a significant and loyal following.

Recording for their self-titled album took place in Auckland’s York Street in 2002, after signing a deal with Capitol Records earlier in the year. EMI Music (NZ) managing director Chris Caddick was “beyond thrilled” when the group joined.

Produced by Paul Matthews, the album takes on a new range and diversity from what fans recognise as Blindspott’s trademark sound. There are beautifully heavy songs, like closing track ‘Ilah’ and the different textures and experimental effects will surprise some people. At one point Paul Matthews resorted to tying wooden blocks on his shoes to create the footsteps effect on ‘Plastic Shadow’.

“There’s a few tracks that don’t have the word fuck in them,” says Damian. “Many songs are epic and intricate, although no less hard.”

Shelton adds “We’ve got stuff that’s beautiful and some songs are just downright rotten, dirty metal, and there’s even some dub in there.

“People are constantly telling us that ‘Nah, you can’t do that. You can’t swear like this, you can’t say fuck.’ Maybe we can’t do it, but we’re going to do it anyway,” he reasons.

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