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Smokefreerockquest 2011 – mentoring for bands

Nelson Peasants in for top level mentoring at SFRQ final

Bands at the top of the kiwi music industry will be offering advice to those at its entry level, as part of the Smokefreerockquest final in Hamilton this month.

New Zealand’s six top bands play off for the country’s biggest youth music prize at the Claudelands Arena from 4-6pm on Saturday September 17, with high-energy chart topper Dane Rumble leading the guest list. At 7pm that same night Kiwi Cream delivers New Zealand greats Shihad, Supergroove, OpShop and the Kids of 88.

Rockquest Promotions director Glenn Common says getting some band mentoring for the SFRQ finalists from this line up was an opportunity too good to be missed.

“In the afternoon before the Smokefreerockquest final kicks off Shihad will spend time with all six finalists, in a session supported by the Ministry of Youth Development,” he says. “This will give them an insight into the path that led them to international success and rock stardom – it’s an awesome opportunity.”

Common says mentoring is a big part of what the Smokefreerockquest experience offers young people.

‘Throughout the competition the finalists from the main centres have all had this opportunity as we’ve staged the SFRQ Circus in main centres, with the likes of Ivy Lies and Nesian Mystic doing the mentoring,” he says. “In Hamilton we plan to match Nelson band The Peasants with the very first rock quest winners, OpShop; and put Dane Rumble with A Bit Nigel from Taupo. We’re planning to get them together in a professional setting where the young bands can experience a sound check and see what goes on backstage.”

Common says it’s a tribute to the legacy of Smokefreerockquest and to the collegial nature of the kiwi music industry that top bands are willing to share their time and their experience.

“It is going to be a real inspiration to these young musicians to hear direct from acts that have made it in New Zealand and even internationally,” he says. “The SFRQ finalists are poised for a career in music and this will be a motivator they will be able to look back on if they ever hit tough times or have doubts.”

The top six bands to play off at the national final in Hamilton on September 17 are:

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

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 are 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 prize package on offer is 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. Guests acts are Dane Rumble and last year’s winners, Waikato band The Good Fun. On the same night from 7pm the top three bands will play during stage set up to the huge crowd at 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 from Ticketek.


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