Band's lead singer reflects on rapid evolution

GWYNETH HYNDMAN
Last updated 05:00 19/06/2012

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She used to muck around with Taylor Swift until she was stolen by a pack of metal-loving musicians.

Now as the lead singer for Lazarus Rising, Devon Winders is hoping for an even bigger triumph with the Year 13 Riverton boys, as the group looks beyond their Southland Smokefreerockquest win.

As they wrapped up filming a music DVD last week to send off to the national Rockquest competitions, the four Aparima College students were back in the real world of school, travel and family commitments – though Devon, Year 12, said the sense of being a rock chick hadn't quite faded.

As the niece of recording artist Paul Winders, Devon grew up around music, though it wasn't until she was recruited by fellow Aparima College students Aran Young, Harley Harris-McRae and Daniel Watson to play bass guitar, that she found herself on lead vocals.

Her own style was quieter, and a bit soft at the time, she said, while Lazarus Rising was loud.

"It [was] a screaming, roaring band then. Definitely heavy metal. Now you'd say it was more like hard rock."

If she's had a gentling effect on her older bandmates, they've widened her horizons, she said.

Metallica, AC/DC, Guns n' Roses are rock legends she has become well acquainted with since they started rehearsing together.

Aran, on lead guitar, agreed they all complemented each other.

"The whole experience has broadened our musical ear. There are all these different styles you can achieve by merging all of this together."

What started off as a music class project has become a vehicle for the band's progression towards fame.

Much of their refinement has been because of teachers at Aparima College – which was small and ideal to grow creatively – as well as their friends and the wider Riverton community, Aran said.

Having the school's support had been integral to success as they've gone from winning third place last year, to first place in 2012.

"It's been an encouraging atmosphere; Aparima is a small school and we're not just a band – we hang out, too," Devon said.

While the band had one supporter at the 2011 Rockquest, this year a whole vanload came down to cheer them on.

"Since Rockquest last year, I think we've gotten a lot more dynamic," Aran said. Last year they took the competition more seriously, whereas this year it was more about having fun, a strategy that worked in their favour.

"It's made us feel pretty good about ourselves."

Rockquest promotions founder and director Glenn Common said eight finalists would be selected, based on DVDs of their own original music, to compete in the Smokefreerockquest national final in Hamilton on September 22.

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gwyneth.hyndman@stl.co.nz

- © Fairfax NZ News

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