One school: 15 rockquest finalists

Ready to rock . . . Set to perform in the Smokefreerockquest Otago finals at Taieri College in Mosgiel tomorrow (front row) Velvet Strings band members and Taieri College pupils Seth Fleming (left) and Cameron Stewart (both 15). Middle row (from left) Kundalini band members Emerald Ottley, of Taieri College, Cade McRae, of John McGlashan College, Alex Cochrane, of Taieri College and Samuel Leaper, of John McGlashan College. Thursdays In The Library band members and Taieri College pupils Jess Walshe, Tylah Harris, Mia Warman, Hayley O'Connell, Ashlee Maxwell (all 17). (Back row) from left, Infinite Deadline band member and Taieri College pupils Ben Aitcheson, Velvet Strings band member Max White, Infinite Deadline band members Jacob Smith, Jasmine Rixon (all 15) and Emily Wilden (16). PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON, OTAGO DAILY TIMES

It is not every year a school has 15 of its pupils making the regional finals of the Smokefreerockquest competition, but for at Taieri College, it is almost a tradition.

The Smokefreerockquest competition is the only national competition for secondary school pupils who write and perform original songs.

Taieri College bands Thursdays in the Library, Infinite Deadline, Velvet Strings, and Kundalini, have made the Otago regional finals, which also, this year, take place in the school’s auditorium tomorrow.

The school’s music teacher, Christina Cochrane said the school had a tradition of three or four bands making the regional finals every year.

Her passion was songwriting and she was glad to be able to share the passion with her pupils.

“We have a strong [music] culture. Our focus as a school is rock music.”

She was “very proud” of the bands who had made it this year.

“They work incredibly hard.”

Thursdays in the Library singer Tylah Harris said the bands, who were tasked to create and perform original compositions, did it for two reasons, to compete in the competition, and to pass a class internal test.

Thursdays in the Library is the only all-female band in the regional final, and its other members are Mia Warman on keyboard and vocals, Hayley O’Connell on bass and vocals, Ashlee Maxwell on drums, and Jess Walshe on guitar.

Tylah said the band, who played their original song Let me Go in their heat, was filled with adrenaline playing in front of a crowd, and would not know what to do with themselves if they were to win the regional competition, and find themselves in the national competition.

The national finals last year had only two females in total, which was disappointing, she said.

“Hopefully we can get there and change it.”

Infinite Deadline, a band of two girls and two boys, who were all in year 11, decided to go a different direction in their heat, and veered more towards the indie style with their ballad Through the night, vocalist and guitar player, Jasmine Rixon said.

“[Their song] had a different sound and style.”

The bands were some of the 12 winners selected from 34 bands that played at Taieri College in the heat last month.

The top regional bands and solo/duos will submit video footage of their performances, in a bid to be selected as a finalist in the Smokefreerockquest national final on September 14.

The first place prize will be $10,000 worth of musical equipment from The Rockshop, and the opportunity to record a music video for NZ on Air.