Both Rodney College and Mahurangi College students earned their musical stripes at the Northland Regional Finals for Rock Quest this month.
Rodney College band Weevils and solo artist Mollie Harvey came second in their categories, while Mahurangi College band Livewire won the People’s Choice Award.
Weevils is a two man set up with drummer Jade Zaia, 17, and guitarist and vocalist Asher Pirini, also 17.
The pair started out in a three-piece band playing gigs at Paddy’s Bar in Kumeu last year.
“I was annoyed with the Rock Quest result to be honest, I thought we had secured first place,” Jade says.
The duo is determined to win the national finals from here, which they can make via the video submission process, to kick-start a career in music.
“Who wouldn’t want to get paid for something they love doing?”
This month they recorded a two-track EP with original songs and are lining up a number of gigs across Auckland.
Both band members are self-taught musicians using YouTube video tutorials.
“I picked up the guitar at nine and got serious about playing it at 11,” Asher says. “I’ve been singing since I was little, but I need to do some work on my vocals.”
He can also play piano, bass guitar, violin and drums.
“I started playing on a terrible drum kit in a barn at 13, just having a bash,” Jade says.
“I like that regardless of your mood you can go and bash the drums and it feels good.”
They describe their songs as a mix of grunge, rock and metal, and say they couldn’t play together if they didn’t have a similar taste in music.
“We find the easiest way to write a song is to think of a line or theme and then write around that and put it to an instrumental we have already established.
“One song just came from Asher’s car being broken into. One day we want to play at all the big music festivals and do a surprise gig at Paddy’s Bar where we started out.”
Seventeen-year-old Mollie Harvey has a history at Rock Quest, competing since 2014 and coming first, winning best song and the People’s Choice Award for her solo performance in 2015.
“Everyone wants to get first, but I’m stoked to get the chance to make a video submission and potentially make the national finals,” Mollie says.
She plays guitar and sings, using a loop pedal to build her songs, and is also self-taught.
“I’ve been writing songs for eight years. It’s a good way of expressing yourself. I hum a tune into my phone to create the foundation for my pieces so I’ve got hundreds of recordings.”
She says her genre is “something different” and possibly a culmination of the range of music she listens to including jazz and reggae.
Livewire was the youngest band at Rock Quest, with five members aged between 11 and 14.
Group members are bass guitarist Nathan Strong, vocalist and rhythmic guitarist Āniwa Heke, keyboardist and vocalist Kaea Heke, lead guitarist Mitchell Jones and drummer Nik Redwood.
“It was pretty cool to win the People’s Choice Award because we weren’t really expecting to get first,” Āniwa says.
“We were all nervous until we got on stage and then we really enjoyed the experience.”
To help gain more votes for People’s Choice, the band did a school performance and plugged a number of social media avenues.