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Smokefreerockquest 2018 Canterbury final results

Canterbury Smokefreerockquest winners, The Subs from Christ’s College, from left are Max Toth, Humphrey Bullen, Jono Stewart, Zac Matson and Matias Biraben-Clough.

Five-piece pop-rock band The Subs from Christ's College won first place in this year’s Canterbury Smokefreerockquest final at the Foundry on the Ilam university campus on Friday night.

Vocalist, rhythm guitarist and song-writer Jono Stewart said the boys called themselves The Subs, because they were the ‘bench warmers’ for fellow Christ College band Run77, who made it to the national SFRQ finals last year.

“When I heard second and third place read out my heart sank – I thought Run77 would win, so it was absolutely awesome to hear our name,” he said. “It’s so so fun writing songs and jamming out and we just want the opportunity to keep doing that.”

Stewart put the band’s win down to their ‘stage energy, nice hooks and some lovely chords on the keyboard’. He said they aim to deliver music you can head-bang to while crying, with nice open chords and loud vocals about standard relationship issues.

The rest of the line up is Zac Matson (bass), Humphrey Bullen (lead guitar), Matias Biraben-Clough (drums), Max Toth (keyboard & synth).

Second place in the band category went to rock band Merlinco from Middleton Grange School, whose members are Benjamin Townshend (lead vocals & rhythm guitar), Mac Wolvekamp (lead guitar), Joel Becker (bass), Dasol Jeong (keyboard) and Olliver Case (drums).

These two acts win musical gear from associate sponsors NZ Rockshops, and join solo-duo winners for Canterbury Nina Noble from Cashmere High School, and PJ and Evile from Haeata Community Campus, in the opportunity to gain selection for the national final in September.

Smokefreerockquest Founder and director Glenn Common says there are more bands than ever before reaching the high standard required from national finalists.

“This means that real dedication is required to achieve the ‘stand out quality’ that the judges will be looking for,” he said. “They have to capture 15 minutes of their original material on video for selection as national finalists. It’s a process that demands creativity and musical ability, being able to work together as a group and having good organisational skills. What separates them out is perseverance – industry success seldom happens overnight.”

And Common encouraged those who didn’t make it through to stick with their music.

“Some bands and soloists will no doubt go on to success in the Kiwi music industry like SFRQ alumnae Kimbra, Marlon Williams and Shapeshifter, but for most of the young musicians SFRQ is about the experience of performing live on stage in a professional set up, meeting others who share their passion for music, and getting constructive and impartial feedback from more experienced musicians who are our judges and mentors.”

The full list of awards for Canterbury is:

Band 1: The Subs, Christ's College

Band 2: Merlinco, Middleton Grange School

Band 3: Household, St Margaret's, Christchurch Girls’, Christ's College, Shirley Boys’

Solo/Duo 1: Nina Noble, Cashmere High School

Solo/Duo 2: PJ and Evile, Haeata Community Campus

Smokefree Tangata Beats Award: PJ and Evile, Haeata Community Campus

ZM People’s Choice: Better than Bacon, Hagley Community College, Burnside High & Shirley Boys

Smokefree Best Vocals: Billie Pine, Portland , Cashmere High School

MAINZ Musicianship: Kayne Child (guitar), Hagley Community College, Better than Bacon

Best Song: Run77, Christ's College

Fatboy Style Award: Black Wired, St Andrew's College

APRA Lyric Writers’ Award: Nat Hutton, Household

The top regional bands and solo/duos submit footage for selection as finalists to play off at the Smokefreerockquest national final on Saturday September 22 at the Dorothy Winstone Centre in Auckland, preceded by the Smokefree Tangata Beats national final on Friday September 21.

The live events run from May 5 until July 6, and most regions are also being filmed for the hugely popular SFRQ webisodes (, fronted this year by NZ’s ‘First Bloke’ Clarke Gayford.

Smokefreerockquest, powered by Rockshop, has national winners’ prize packages for bands and solo/duo winners that includes $22,000 in Rockshop vouchers, $16,000 NZ On Air recording, video and promo package, a photo shoot and branding package from Imaginary Friends. There is also the Musicianship Award, the APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association) Lyric Award, Best Song Award, Smokefree Vocals Award, Fatboy Style Award, and the ZM People’s Choice.

Musical successes from Smokefreerockquest over its 30-year history include Broods, Leroy Clampitt, Kimbra, Aaradhna, Opshop, Evermore, Ladyhawke, Kids of 88, Die!Die!Die!, Joel Little, Tiny Ruins, Marlon Williams, Brooke Fraser, Anika Moa, Chelsea Jade, Nadia Reid, Aldous Harding, Steriogram, Phoenix Foundation, Devilskin, The Black Seeds, Bic Runga, and The Naked and Famous. Smokefree Tangata Beats standout successes include Alien Weaponry, Strangely Arousing Nesian Mystik, the only New Zealand band to ever have ten singles all certified gold or platinum.


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