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Region’s bands set to rock

Two Wairarapa bands have left it all on stage in order to qualify for the upcoming regional final of the national Battle of the Bands competition.

Jeff and the Angry Stick and The Dead Zephyrs will be carting their instruments over the Remutaka Hill to the Wellington regional finals, which set to get loud at Vivian St venue Valhalla at the end of this month.

Leading up to this point have been three heats in Wellington and a semi-final, and should either band succeed with the regional finals, they’ll be in with a chance to take out a top spot at the national climax of the competition.

Nikki King, the vocalist and spokesperson for Jeff and the Angry Stick, said that as an older band they are especially excited to get to the next stage.

“We only got to the semi-finals last year. It would be a big thing for us to make it through
to the finals,” King said.

“A lot of us are older, we’re not a young band, other than my son who’s 21. But the rest of us are in our 40s, 50s, 60s.

“Older bands often think they’re past it, but we’ve made it to the regional finals so are feeling excited!”

King, who is heavily involved in Wairarapa’s music scene, said being involved in the competition is a great way to connect with other bands and musicians.

“We make good associations. Working calls, teaming up with other bands and going forward doing gigs together,” said King.

“So this competition has always been useful for that.”

The competition also comes at a good time for the band’s release of a new single, ‘Slow Burn’, described as an explosive fusion of reggae and rock.

Having written some new material, King said it’s rewarding to see their music start to
strike a chord with audiences, whose vote is responsible for 50 per cent of the decision at the end of each round.

However, King said this could also prove tricky for the two Wairarapa-based regional finalists, who don’t have as much of a local fanbase centred in the capital city.

“The difficulty for both of
our bands is that we have to take our fans over,” King said.

“A big component of the competition comes from an audience vote. So we’d love people to come over and support us.”

The Dead Zephyrs, meanwhile, only got back together six weeks before registering. Band vocalist Ryan Coles said the last show they had played was in 2021, in the “dying embers of covid”.

“We’ve been looking for an excuse to get back together for a long time,” Coles said.

“We needed something to put a bit of a fire under us, and make sure we are moving towards a goal. Battle of the Bands was a necessary step to the mix.”

The Dead Zephyrs aren’t new to the scene – in 2016, they made it all the way to the finals, and this time they have the addition of an “absolute monster” of a new guitarist.

Coles agrees that the competition is a great opportunity for bands to network, and also have original music exposed to new crowds.

“One thing we came away with from the semi-finals that we were really proud of is we managed to come away with the highest audience votes, considering we’re a band from Wairarapa that only brought six people with us!” Coles said.

“The promoter came up to us after and said, ‘That’s no small achievement. The fact that people have come out to see other bands and have voted for you says something’.”

Those involved in the Masterton music scene might have seen Coles play at the now-retired venue King Street Live.

“I stand firm with the record for the person who played at King St the most – I played there 36 times over the course of the five years it was open.”

Both bands would love to see as much local support in the audience for Wellington’s regional finals, which is taking place on 29 September at Valhalla.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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