September 26th 2013
Success in the Kiwi-music industry is the driver for this year's eight Smokefreerockquest finalists - due to play off in the event's 25th national final, set for 28 September at Auckland's Raye Freedman Centre.

Success in the Kiwi-music industry is the driver for this year's eight Smokefreerockquest finalists - due to play off in the event's 25th national final, set for 28 September at Auckland's Raye Freedman Centre.

There were 654 entries in New Zealand's only nationwide, orginal youth music event, with winners from 23 regional finals going forward for national final selection. The regional finalists sent in DVDs of their original music and the top six bands and two solo/duos were selected in August by judges from the music industry.

Smokefreerockquest founders and directors Glenn Common and Pete Rainey said it was hard to believe they had been running Smokefreerockquest for a quarter of a century.

"We've seen huge change in young people's lives and in the technology available to them to get their music out to the world," Glenn said, "through all of that, Smokefreerockquest has consistently given them a platform to perform their own music, live, to a hometown audience wherever they live in New Zealand."

September is a big month for Common and Rainey, who will also be making a trip to Government House to pick up their MNZM awards for services to New Zealand music, announced in the Queen's Birthday Honours.


The top six bands to play off at the national final are:

The Moots, Auckland Central - a funk-rock three piece from St Kentigern College, Western Springs College, and Westlake Boys' High School; members are Alexandre de Reuck (drums), Guy Beca (bass) and Gabriel Everett (lead vocals and electric guitar). 

SundayBest, Waikato - the second time in the national final for this quirky indie band from Peter's School Cambridge, made up of Charlie Verberne (lead vocals and electric guitar), Chris Milson (drums), and Jesse Austin (bass).

All of a Kind, Waikato - third year competing in SFRQ for this five piece alt-pop band from Putaruru College, whose members are Conor White (vocals and acoustic guitar) James Te Whare (lead electric guitar and keyboard), Antonio Clair (bass and percussion), Tarewa Walker (drums), and John Keith (keyboard and backing vocals).

A Bit Nigel, Rotorua - it's the third time in the national final for this indie-rock outfit from Taupo-nui-a-Tia College and Rotorua Boys' High School. They are Hamish Nixon (lead vocals, guitar and synth), Sam Marshall (bass, synth), and Manawa Veitayaki (drums and backing vocals). 

Aftershock, Rotorua - this four piece metal band from Western Heights High School and John Paul College have been playing together for six years and made the top 20 last year. The members are Lukas Wharekura (lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist), Chris Everest (lead guitar), Shaun Loper (bass) and Oliver Prendergast (drums). 

AashaWillandCullen, Christchurch - this alt-folk band from Shirley Boys' High School is made up of Aasha Mallard (banjo), Will McGillivray (acoustic guitar and kick drum) and Cullen Kiesanowski (double bass). The year 11 students have all played music since year 8, but formed a band only a year ago.

The solo/duo finalists are:

Harry Parsons, Waikato is from Cambridge High School and since he went solo has moved from punk and metal to songs that are folk or alternative. Harry has been surrounded by music all his life as his father is a professional musician. 

Khona Va'aga-Gray, Manukau this McAuley High School soul/R&B singer puts her success down to her mother sitting her down in front of the Disney channel to sing along, which sparked her love for music and performing.


The national final of Smokefreerockquest is at the Raye Freedman Arts Centre, at 7pm on Saturday 28 September. Tickets $20 from iTICKET. Guest acts are surf-punk-hillbilly Auckland five piece the Drab Doo-Riffs and pop singer-songwriter Massad. The event will be opened by the winner of the Skinny Mobile People's Choice, with voting from the regional winners of this award taking place on Facebook now.

Smokefreerockquest, powered by Rockshop, has a national final prize pool for bands and solo/duo winners that includes musical gear to a total value of $22,000 from NZ Rockshops and their suppliers. National winners also receive a recoding and music video package from NZ on Air, inclusion on the NZ On Air Kiwi Hit Disc, radio promotional support, and video play on youth music channel FOUR. At the national final awards will be presented for the MAINZ Scholarship for outstanding musicianship, the APRA Lyric Award, the Lowdown Best Song Award, the Smokefreerockquest Video Competition, National Skinny Mobile Peoples Choice Award, and the Smokefree Women's Musicianship Award.

More info at sfrq.co.nz or facebook.com/thesfrq


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