Seven years of Smokefreerockquest experience paid off for Mt Maunganui band Joe’s Van who were named the top teen band in New Zealand at last Friday night’s national final of Smokefreerockquest at Auckland’s Raye Freedman Centre.
Singer-songwriter Ben Mollison, also from Tauranga, was named the top solo act.
There were over 700 entries in Smokefreerockquest this year, playing off in 23 centres from Invercargill to Kerikeri. The judges at the final were Hamish Jackson (Rockshop), Damien Daniels (Edge TV), Jeff Newton (NZ on Air), and musicians Matt Warman from Midnight Youth, and Chelsea Jade.
Joe’s Van from Mt Maunganui College is made up of Cormac Seymour (lead guitar) Rory Priest (drums) and Jake Nicholas (vocals, bass). The judges said the band showed the benefits of being together for so long.
“They had progressed since last year, they were very professional and got good engagement from the crowd,” Mr Daniels said.
“They are a powerful three piece that made their Mount-inspired funk rock performance look effortless.”
Joe’s Van spokesman Jake Nicholas said they had ‘liquidised’ their music over the years with a sound they now describe as ‘alternative surf’. They plan to take a gap year and make music their number one priority.
Joe’s Van win $10,000 in Rockshop vouchers, a $10,000 NZ On Air recording, video and promo package; a ‘Decent Exposure’ campaign on Edge TV, a photo shoot with Thievery Studio, and a branding package from Imaginary Friends.
Second-placed band was Alien Weaponry, from Bream Bay College and Otamatea High School, Northland, whose members are brothers Lewis de Jong (guitar/vocals), Henry de Jong (drums), and Ethan Trembath (bass). The judges were particularly impressed by their song in te reo about their great-great-great-grandfather’s role at the battle of Gate Pa. Alien Weaponry win $5000 in Rockshop vouchers.
First placed in the solo section was Ben Mollison, a guitar and harmonica playing singer/songwriter from Bethlehem College, Tauranga. He wins $3000 in Rockshop vouchers, a $10,000 NZ On Air recording, video and promo package, a ‘Decent Exposure’ campaign on Edge TV, a photo shoot with Thievery Studio, and a branding package from Imaginary Friends. He also won the APRA Lyric Award, with a prize of $500.
The judges commented on the maturity of Ben’s lyrics, and his guitar playing skills.
“We were most moved by him – he’s the complete package, a story teller who has written great songs and delivered them with real ability,” Mr Jackson said.
Ben, who is in year 12, put his win down to his engagement with the audience and said music will always be an important part of his life.
Second-placed solo was self-taught finger-style guitarist Joseph Balfe from Waitaki Boys’ High School, Oamaru, winning $1000 in Rockshop vouchers.
The full list of awards made on Friday night was:
- 1st band: Joe’s Van, Mt Maunganui College, Tauranga
- 2nd band: Alien Weaponry, Bream Bay College and Otamatea High School, Northland
- 3rd band, winning $3000 in Rockshop vouchers, El Jay Hall, Cambridge High School.
- 1st solo: Ben Mollison, Bethlehem College, Tauranga
- 2nd solo: Joseph Balfe, Waitaki Boys’ High School, Oamaru,
- 3rd solo: Solomon the Crook from St Peter’s School, Cambridge
- People’s Choice winner, voted by text to play at the finals: El Jay Hall, Cambridge High School.
- Lowdown Best Song Award, winning a professional recording: El Jay Hall, Cambridge High School.
- The $4800 MAINZ Scholarship for Outstanding Musicianship: Calum Slee, Buller High School, Westport
- APRA Lyric Award, $500: Ben Mollison, Bethlehem College, Tauranga
- Smokefree Women’s Musicianship Award of $1000 cash: Ruby Fraser, Craighead Diocesan School, Timaru
- Unleashed Travel ambassador award, a seven-day trip to Fiji: Joe’s Van, Mt Maunganui College