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In search of the next big thing...

The Smokefree Rockquest has been New Zealand’s premier source for local talent since 1989 and has produced some of our nation’s most successful exports, with names such as Kimbra, Broods, The Naked and Famous, Brooke Fraser and Joel Little to its credit. Anna Henvest headed along to the North Shore Regional Finals at The Bruce Mason Centre on June 21st to see what all the fuss was about...

Taking to the stage in the 2014 North Shore Regional Finals were 12 bands from the North Shore, all playing two original songs in the hope of getting the top three spots to get into the next round.
The night was hosted by Six60’s Chris Mac and featured performances from our finest local talent, as well as a guest performance from 2013 National winners, A Bit Nigel. After a nail-biting deliberation from the judges, Long Bay College band, I’m Not Going To Do What You Tell Me To Do, took third place with Rangitoto College band, Ludo taking out the second spot. In first place was Rangitoto College’s The Paradise Stone, a five-piece band that was a definite crowd favourite.
The Year 13 students have a stage presence which can only be classified as cool, as they graced the stage with their original alternative rock tunes. The Paradise Stone consists of Michael Garmonsway (lead vocals and guitar), Robert Wilkinson (lead guitar and backing vocals), Daniel Waterson (drums and backing vocals), Sam Treasure (bass) and Jordan Meijer (keyboard). The band formed four years ago and this is their fourth year of entering the nationwide music competition. These guys are definitely ones to watch, with the eclectic sounds of ‘Eridanus’ and ‘Tempest’ winning the judges over. I caught up with the boys for their interview debut just minutes after they found out the good news.

Anna Henvest: Congratulations on the win! This is your fourth year entering Smokefreerockquest and you’ve finally cracked the top spot. Have you made any changes to the band or your sound between the times you’ve entered?
Robert Wilkinson:
Thanks! We have a new bassist, Sam and in terms of line up, we haven’t really changed that much. But I suppose our music and the way we approach music has really changed.

AH: Tell us how The Paradise Stone came to be.
R:
It’s kind of a funny story. Michael was in my maths class and I asked him: “What kind of bands do you like?” And he said: “White Stripes.” And I said: “Oh yeah, do you like Bloc Party,” which was my favourite band at the time. He said: “Yeah.” So I asked him: “Do you want to join a band?” And he said… “Yes.”  I asked him if he could play an instrument and he replied: “I’m trying.” And I was trying too. It’s kind of funny how I got Daniel in - I was auditioning for a Jazz Combo with my trombone and Daniel was there and I didn’t know anything about him other than he could drum so I just asked him and he said yes. Daniel’s the best musician I’ve ever met and we’re lucky to have him.

AH: So you guys just won the SFRQ Regional Final, tell us what’s going through your head in one word:
Michael Garmonsway:
Shock.
Sam Treasure: Non-functioning.
R: Well I just went ‘Ahh’.
Daniel Waterson: I just went ‘Ahh’ also.
Jordan Meijer: Unbelievable.

AH: What would winning the SFRQ National Final mean to you?
M:
Everything.
D: Yeah, it would be pretty amazing.
R: That would be the cherry on top!
J: It would mean a lot, to see us come so far from being kids practising in a basement to performing for large audiences and maybe having a future in the music industry.

AH: You mentioned that Coldplay is a musical influence; is there anyone in the music industry that you look up to, not necessarily in terms of music, but also musicianship or who you consider a role model?
R:
This one is kind of a bit of an odd one, but I really like Kanye West. I really look up to him and his musical ideals. I don’t mean that ironically, I really look up to Kanye West as a musician and as a persona.

AH: Where’s your favourite spot on the North Shore?
D:
It might have to be the school. I know that doesn’t sound very cool, but so many things have happened to me there, so many experiences and opportunities.
R: My favourite place around the North Shore is probably the walk between Murrays Bay to Browns Bay.
S: There’s a place in Greenhithe which is really secluded, and I go there to listen to music sometimes.
M: Daniel’s house.

AH: How has Rangitoto College influenced your musical journey?
R:
They’ve really helped with the rock rooms over the years when you’re a bit short of practise places.
M: I think the Year 9 rock programme is a really good way of starting people up. And you get to perform in front of people which I think is really helpful.

AH: Where can we go to hear more from The Paradise Stone?
M:
We don’t really have a lot up yet besides live performances, but we’re hopefully going to do some recordings soon and make a video and put that on YouTube.

So, where to from here for these bands? I’m Not Going To Do What You Want Me To Do, Ludo and The Paradise Stone, along with the top bands and solo/duos from each region, will submit video footage to get through to the next round - playing at the National Finals in Auckland on the 27th of September. Not only is this great exposure and an incredible experience for aspiring musicians, there are also some amazing prizes up for grabs - musical gear to a total value of $13,000 from NZ Rockshops and their suppliers, inclusion on the NZ On Air Kiwi Hit Disc, radio promotional support, and video play on youth music channel FOUR.

To keep up with how our local talent goes for the rest of the competition, head to smokefreerockquest.co.nz for all details and updates. 

by Anna Henvest

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