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Smokefreerockquest top six national finalists announced

Smokefreerockquest top six national finalists announced

The next kiwi music sensation could well emerge from the six national finalists just announced in this year’s Smokefreerockquest.

Over 800 bands and soloists have played off since May, with two bands from each of 27 regions going into the final selection pool. Judges from the music industry today named the top six, selected from DVDs submitted since the regional finals.

Judge Tania Dean from New Zealand on Air said it was incredibly hard to pick the top six finalists this year: “But I'm happy with the outcome – it’s going to be a wicked night at the national finals. I saw loads of strong musicians in the top 20 and I'll be excited to see them develop in the coming years.”

"Matt Warman from Midnight Youth said Smokefreerockquest was always the best buzz at high school: “It was one of the best experiences I had as a young musician and it’s a great privilege for me to be on this side of the fence judging some amazing artists who are the future of New Zealand music."

Experience paid off with the finalists having all competed in the event before. The top six to play off at the national final in Hamilton on September 17 are:

Get off the Grass, Rangitoto College North Shore, Auckland: The members of this rock band were all competing for their second year in Smokefreerockquest. They are influenced by bands from the Beach Boys to Radiohead, putting their own ideas on these influences and making something new. The band members are Alex Estrin (drums), Flynn Roser (electric guitar and vocals), Julius Hattingh (electric guitar and vocals) and Matt Neale (bass).

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Massad, Sacred Heart College Auckland: Massad Barakat-Devine is a polished singer-songwriter and performer on acoustic guitar and keyboard. He classifies his catchy tunes as alternative experimental pop. Massad won the Lowdown Best Song award at last year’s Smokefreerockquest national final.

Attic Sky’s, Whakatane High School, Bay of Plenty: This year was Attic Sky's fourth time in the contest. They have a high-energy stage presence and a punk-melodic sound interlaid with strong harmonies. The band members Riley Brightwell (bass player and vocalist), Miles Sutton (guitar) and Ollie Butler (drums).

A Bit Nigel, Taupo-nui-a-Tia College, Taupo, Rotorua region: A pop-funk band competing for their second year in Smokefreerockquest. Their name is ‘the only one they could agree on’ but harmonies play a big part in their melodic songs and they like to just have fun on stage. The band members are Hamish Nixon (lead guitarist and vocalist), Sam Marshall (bass and synthesizer) and Manawa Veitayaki (drums and backing vocals).

The Velvet Regime, Naenae College and Hutt Valley High School, Wellington region: A four piece indie-alt band, with two members whose past Smokefreerockquest experience taught them the importance of stage presence, style and image. Dressed in black, their focus is on guitar and bass rather than vocals. The members of The Velvet Regime are Nigel Martinez (lead vocals and guitar), (Stefan Poad (vocals and guitar), Joel Averes (bass) and Jason Reder (drums).

The Peasants, Garin College, Nelson: Formerly known as The Peasants of Eden, the seven-piece came second in the Smokefreerockquest national final last year, an experience that really enhanced their performance skills and catchy thoughtful songs. The band members are Georgia Nott (vocals and percussion), Abbey Phillips (vocals and keyboard), Chris Phillips (drums), Joseph Corban-Banks (bass), Rupert Wockner (rhythm guitar), Holly Tippler (vocals and keyboard) and Clark Hinton (guitar).

The other bands who made the top 20 were: Smosh, Northland; Holy Shark, Northland; Shana, Auckland; Red Lamp Auckestra, Auckland; Eyes and Nines, Auckland; Nick Raven, Auckland; Servn8, Auckland; Tied on Teeth, Waikato; Living Lightly, Taranaki; Ru-tsu, Hawkes Bay; Clara, Marlborough; 8 Plus One, Christchurch; Colour Classic, Central Otago; Bowties on your Shoes, Otago.

The top six bands will play off at the national final, being held this year in the new 6000-seat Claudelands Arena in Hamilton on 17 September. The prize package is designed as a big helping hand into the music industry. It includes a NZ On Air new recording and music video grant worth $10,000, a place on the NZ On Air Kiwi Hit Disc, musical gear to the value of $10,000 from NZ Rockshops, recording time and radio promotional support for a single. There is also the MAINZ Scholarship for outstanding musicianship, the APRA Lyric Award, the Lowdown Best Song Award and the Smokefree Women’s Musicianship Award.

The Smokefreerockquest finals will run from 4-6pm, tickets $10 from Ticketek or at the door. On the same night the top three bands will play to a huge crowd Kiwi Cream, a concert featuring Shihad, Supergroove, Opshop and the Kids of 88, being staged in Hamilton as part of the Real New Zealand Festival. Ticket holders to Kiwi Cream will get free entry to the Smokefreerockquest final. Kiwi Cream tickets also from Ticketek.


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