For the first time since the competition began in 1993, a Wairarapa band has rock ’n’ rolled through and won the Battle of the Bands national final, which was held over the weekend.
On Saturday night, Masterton-based band The Dead Zephyr played at Wellington’s Valhalla, where it was so packed that audience members were standing shoulder to shoulder.
Regional heats had whittled the 50 bands from around New Zealand who entered this year’s contest down to 15 for the final – two of them from Wairarapa.
The other band from the region to leave their all on stage was Masterton’s Jeff and the Angry Stick, who had played the previous night and shared an award for most passionate performance with two other bands.
Jeff and the Angry Stick lead vocalist Nikki King said they had been top of the leaderboard at the end of Friday night and as a fairly new band they are stoked with that result.
“To get to the national final was an achievement in itself,” King said.
“We made good associations and booked some gigs.”
King said it was a tough competition, and it was great that a local band took out the top spot.
The Dead Zephyrs guitarist and lead vocalist Ryan Coles said he and the band are “absolutely over the moon”.
“We wanted to be a good band, but we also wanted to bring the visual element, and I feel like we did that.”
Coles said he had been telling himself that, even if they didn’t place, it had been a great experience playing with other bands and networking with other musicians.
“Then they announced third place and second and the self-deprecating Kiwi in me came out. I thought, ‘Damn there must have been another band who pulled it out of the bag’,” Coles said.
“Then we were announced as first place, and we all went into shock.”
As the first Wairarapa band to ever win the competition, Coles feels like history has been made.
“As someone who has made Wairarapa their adopted home for the past 15 years, that entire time I’ve been playing music,” Coles said.
“We battled against nearly 50 other bands all over the country, and we’ve made Wairarapa proud by showing them what we’re made of.”
As the months leading up to this point had been full on, Coles said the band members are looking forward to having a rest and writing some new music before summer.
“Then we’re just going to dive into summer, boots and all.”