Region's bands set for Rockquest battle

HANNAH FLEMING
Last updated 05:00 16/06/2012
General Vibe
JONATHAN CAMERON/Fairfax NZ

READY TO ROCK: Andrew Hockey, Joel Robertson, Nathaniel Manning and Reuben Knauf make up General Vibe, who are looking to make an impact at the Smokefree Rockquest tonight.

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The guitars are in tune and the vocal cords are warming up as Taranaki youth prepare for the Smokefree Rockquest.

Twelve of the region's top high school bands will battle it out at the TSB Showplace tonight, with hopes to claim a spot in the national final in Hamilton on September 22.

New Plymouth Boys' High School/Francis Douglas Memorial College ensemble General Vibe are pumped to play their style of alternative pop rock, or "alpock" as they call it, for the audience.

Taking influence from Coldplay, U2 and Muse, electric guitarist Joel Robertson, 15, said he was confident General Vibe would stack up against the other bands.

"At the risk of sounding cocky, I think we really could do well. I'm not sure if the other guys would agree, but I'm confident we'll get something out of it."

Robertson said they had put in a lot of practice since they formed in July 2011, and felt they had a tightness and cohesion that would take them a long way.

The stage presence of lead vocalist Andrew Hockey, 15, was also one of their strengths, he said.

"He's a held back person by nature, but when he's on stage he really connects with the audience in a genuine way.

"I mean, he's not going to go out there and do what Bono does – although I wouldn't mind if he did."

With only seven minutes to impress the judges, Robertson said they would play a song titled Sunset in Jericho.

"We have a habit of playing long songs, so we're only going to play one. And we're hoping to do an epic intro – kind of Pink Floyd style," he said.

Robertson said General Vibe had their fingers crossed for a spot in the national finals, which New Zealand talents such as Kimbra, Bic Runga and Flight of the Conchords' Brett McKenzie had all taken part in.

"I would be pretty stoked to get that far, it would be an honour to play at something like that."

The top two bands from Taranaki are required to send a video into the judges, who will whittle the top acts from each region down to eight for the national final.

Awards for women's musicianship, best song, best lyrics and the people's choice award are also up for grabs tonight.

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