Young musicians’ chance to shine


South Canterbury high school musicians get their time in the spotlight tomorrow night, when the Smokefree Rockquest competition returns to the Timaru’s Theatre Royal.
The Courier reporter Greta Yeoman has profiled several of the young performers.

Smokefree Rockquest requires solo artists and bands to perform an original song.

It started in 1989 as a way for young Kiwi musicians to have a stage to share their music.

About 15 acts, both solo artists and bands, from around South Canterbury are expected to perform.

Other competitors include Abberation, from Mountainview High School; Pseudo Sane, from Geraldine High School; and Waimate High School’s Rising Revolution.

Ashburton College has two bands entered, Redwall and Two n Half, while Mt Hutt College solo artist Jaime Lamond and band North Yarn will also be playing.

The top two solo artists and bands from tomorrow’s event will submit a 12-minute performance video to be judged against all the other regional finalists.

The top 30 chosen acts will go on to the national final.


Plenty of preparation . . . Roncalli College pupils Alice Styles (left, 16) and Carl Webber (16) make up the duo Claws. The pair will make their second appearance at Rockquest tomorrow night. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

After placing second last year with a spur-of-the-moment entry in Timaru’s Rockquest, Alice Styles and Carl Webber are hoping the rehearsal time they have put in this year will score similar success.

The Roncalli College duo, who perform as Claws, return to the Theatre Royal stage tomorrow night with hopes of placing in the solo/duo category again.

Vocalist Alice said the pair had entered the event at short notice last year, composing their song mere days before the competition.

This year, however, they had been working hard on their compositions and had several songs to choose from, she said.

Guitarist/vocalist Carl said their “soft acoustic pop” had themes of conversations between partners or mothers and fathers in the lyrics.

He said although the title of Rockquest often misled performers and attendees to think all music would be rock-themed, they chose to perform more acoustic-sounding songs as it suited their voices.

“We’ve gone a lot softer than last year [too].”

While they had placed in the regional event last year, meaning they could have submitted a four-song performance video as part of the semifinals, they had not had enough songs to be able to this, she said.

They were hoping to repeat their success from last year and would be more prepared for the next stage if that occurred, Alice said.

“Last year we wrote our song in three days.”


In it to win it . . . Roncalli College band members Neve O’Connor (right) and Billy Cook (both 16) will join bandmate Nick Goodwin (15) to perform as NOKIT at Rockquest, which they hope to win after placing second in the Timaru event last year. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

NOKIT is hoping to go one better than its second placing in last year’s Timaru SmokefreeRockquest by winning this year’s event, which is on tomorrow.

The Roncalli College trio, made up of lead vocalist Neve O’Connor, bass player Billy Cook and guitarist-backing vocalist Nick Goodwin, placed second in the Timaru high school music event last year.

Neve also claimed the best vocals award.

“Which is exciting,” she said.

The trio has had a shift in sound from last year, switching from two guitars to one and putting Neve solely on lead vocals.

Neve said their songwriting process began with “whoever was around” beginning a piece of music.

Often Nick would come up with a “pretty groovy guitar line” before Billy added in the bass and Neve structured her lyrics over the top.

Both Neve and Nick take music at school and will be using their Friday night performance for their NCEA composition, group performance and solo performance assessments.

Billy said their aim for tomorrow’s competition was to improve on their 2017 second-place success.

“[We are] hoping we’ll win it,” he said.

Neve, who also gigs solo around Timaru, said she was looking forward to getting back on stage.

“Performing in front of a crowd is always fun.”

She said the history of New Zealand artists such as Kimbra finding success after Rockquest was encouraging.

“These things will come after performing at Rockquest.”


Acronym acts . . . Opihi College pupils (from left) Reef Brazendale (13), Allicia Kelly (16), Matt Anso (14) and Luke Smith (14) will perform as ALRM at Rockquest tomorrow night. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

Winning Smokefree Rockquest and completing world domination are the aims of one Opihi College band.

The “punk-ish” band’s four members – bassist Allicia Kelly, drummer Luke Smith and guitarists/vocalists Reef Brazendale and Matt Anso – make up the acronym ALRM, which is their band name.

Three of the band had played together at Smokefree Rockquest last year, while Allicia performed with a different band.

Their songs are written by Matt and Reef before being worked on by the other two band members.

While Reef described their sound as “punkish” with “riffs”, Matt disputed this.

“We don’t really have a set genre.”

The variety continued in their lyrics. One song was about not wanting to grow up, while the other one – In a Can – was about paper towels eating cows, Reef said.

“It’s a bit of a joke song.”

The boys in the band also planned to dress up as girls for their performance.

When asked what they were most looking forward to about performing, Matt said “winning Rockquest” while Reef had even bigger goals.

“World domination.”


Punk trio . . . Opihi College trio S.W.I.M is made up of (from left) Luke Smith (13), Jessica Marshall (16) and Liam Pelvin (14). PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

It has been a time of ’80s influence for one Opihi College band.

S.W.I.M guitarist and singer Jessica Marshall said her pop-punk trio, which includes Liam Pelvin on bass and Luke Smith on drums, was heavily influenced by her love of ’80s music, which had been encouraged by her music teacher, Russell Fleming.

“They’re quite Pixies-inspired,” she said of her songs.

She said one song was about “people being annoying” while the other was about rough times in friendships and relationships.

“[I] enjoy performing and the creation of songs.”

The band makes its debut at Smokefree Rockquest this year but it will not be the first stint on stage for Jessica – Friday’s event will be her fourth Rockquest.

Only Liam will be making his Rockquest debut tomorrow night, as Luke played bass in Jessica’s previous band last year.

Liam said he was just looking forward to “making noise” during their set.

electric mist

All together now . . . Opihi College pupils (from left) Olivia Andreassend (15), Aaliyah Lovatt (13), Nathan Nolan (13), Kyal Dickson (13) and Emily Wells (13) will take to the stage as electric mist during Rockquest. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

A mix of topics and three songwriters have created the sound of Opihi College’s electric mist.

The five-person pop act is led by singer Aaliyah Lovatt, and guitarist/singer Olivia Andreassend, while Emily Wells is on bass-playing duties and Kyal Dickson keeps the beat.

Keyboard player Nathan Nolan is the Rockquest newbie of the group, as the rest have all performed before.

The three girls in the band penned the music over the past year, writing one song about bullying and another about being “mentally confused”.

“It’s just dark,” Aaliyah joked about their second song.

She said their two-song performance would be “a little bit different” from the year before.

“Last year we threw it together; this year we thought about the words.”

She was looking forward to getting back on the stage.

“It was really fun last year.”

All of the band will be starting music classes next term and are looking forward to it.

“[We] just write for the fun of it,” Aaliyah said.

Rory MacLeod

Debut tunes . . . Timaru Boys’ High School pupil Rory McLeod (17) will make his Rockquest debut on Friday. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

Rory MacLeod will exchange one stage for another when he makes his SmokefreeRockquest debut tomorrow night.

The 17-year-old Timaru Boys’ High School pupil has been busy rehearsing for several performances of late, practising for his solo Rockquest gig along with playing the Big Bad Wolf in the combined Timaru Boys’ and Girls’ High Schools production of Into the Woods

The country-blues solo musician is also a side drummer in a pipe band and no stranger to live performances, but a solo gig will be a new experience.

“I was nervous but I’ve been practising.”

He was hoping Rockquest would kick-start his music career and had been penning plenty of songs for a potential recording session later this year.

“I quite like writing songs.”

However, he had not yet completed the song he would be performing.

“[I will] sort of be winging it.”

He was looking forward to performing in front of people.

“[Plus] just getting my name out there.”

Dial 111

Taking to the stage . . . Timaru Boys’ High School pupils (front) Oscar Skilling (14) and (back, from left) Dom Coleman (14), Jack McLennan (14) and Daniel Nicolson (15) will perform as Dial 111 in Rockquest. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN


A broken arm expanded one Smokefree Rockquest duo into a fully-fledged band.

Timaru Boys’ High School pupil Oscar Skilling had roped drummer schoolmate Daniel Nicolson into his act – until a broken arm put his guitar-playing out of action.

Oscar then called on schoolmate Dom Coleman to play guitar and figured while they were calling in new members, they might as well flesh out the “blues-rock” act with bassist Jack McLennan.

They started rehearsing together a few weeks ago.

It would be the first time at Rockquest for the three other members – and the fourth performance for Oscar.

“We’re a little bit nervous and excited,” Oscar said of their upcoming performance.

Guitarist Dom was looking forward to the free guitar picks, while Daniel wanted to check out the equipment available.

“I’ve heard the drum set’s pretty good.”

Strike 4

Collaboration . . . Timaru Boys’ High School pupils (from left) Ben Roberts (14), Harry Delaney (15), Shaun Reith (14) and Bryn Johnston (15) will take to the Rockquest stage with Strike 4. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

Strike 4 is heading back to Smokefree Rockquest – with a new member.

The Timaru Boys’ High School band, made up of guitarist Bryn Johnston, bassist Shaun Reith and vocalist Harry Delaney, performed at the high school music competition last year and will return to the stage tomorrow with new drummer Ben Roberts.

Ben had joined the band after a friend’s band at Roncalli College had not put in an application to perform in time.

He said it also made sense to perform with his schoolmates because they were all at the school hostel, which made it easier to schedule practices.

Bryn said the band had tried to go for a “rocky kind of style” when writing the original song they would perform.

“We sort of all wrote it,” Shaun said of their songwriting process.

He was “excited” to perform and was most looking forward to “just having fun” during the evening event, which Harry agreed with.

“In the lead-up you’re really nervous, but afterwards you’re glad you did it,” Harry said.

The Timaru Smokefree Rockquest event will be held at the Theatre Royal on Friday night, starting at 7pm.  For more information or tickets (door sales will be available) visit Sneakers97 Nike Running Shoes Reviews