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On top . . . Rock three-piece band Murder On Venus from Gore High School took out first place at this year?s Southland regional Smokefreerockquest final at Centre Stage on Friday night, in Invercargill.

Murder on Venus made a killing on Friday night.

The Gore High School band won the Southland Smokefreerockquest band competition.

The band comprised Hamish Waddell (17), guitar and lead singer, Jordan Franks (16) on bass guitar, and drummer Angelo Rosario (17).

Hamish said this was the first time the band had performed at the competition.

“We didn’t think we were going to win,” Hamish said.

“I was surprised,” Jordan said.

“I really didn’t think it was going to be me.. the band.”

They enjoyed the experience.

“It was amazing,” Jordan said.

“It’s cool because it doesn’t really matter how good or bad you are, everyone is just there to have fun and do what they like to do,” Hamish said.

It was a good opportunity to play music in front of like-minded people.

“It’s good confirmation that someone out there actually likes our band,” he said.

“It’s really fun to play in front of an audience that’s really appreciating and cheering along .. it’s a good feeling and makes you want to keep doing it.”

The band wrote the two songs needed for the competition together.

“It’s a lot easier that way,” Hamish said.

The songs were simple.

“They’re pretty rough around the edges, shed rock – as in dirty, raw, it’s loose.

“They’re not really polished,” Hamish said.

“It’s about rocking out and having a good time.”

The band had a double period of music on Mondays, which was when they wrote songs and practised.

“We try and get better every time,” Jordan said.

The band was formed in the music class last year with the help of teacher Sam Hadfield, and the members were able to earn NCEA credits.

“It’s also just a band for fun – that’s what we like doing,” Hamish said.

Not much thought had gone into choosing a name.

“We needed a name and we quickly got one,” Jordan said.

“It’s just one of those names – you pick it, and a week later you are regretting it.

“We brainstormed and [came] up with something and, oh, that’s good enough,” Hamish said.

The band was hoping to make it to the national final, but to enter they needed to provide a video of themselves performing four songs.

The judges would choose the best 10 bands to compete in the finals in September in Auckland.

Mr Hadfield said he was very happy with the way pupils performed at the Southland Smokefreerockquest.

“It was a pretty amazing night, having three bands enter and three solo-duo acts.

“Not only did we do really well with the placings but we also had some awesome progress with the amount of students that wanted to take their music to the next step and enter rockquest.”

It was rewarding to see the progress the pupils had made.

“I’m pretty proud of them.”

The Apra lyric writers’ award was won by Menzies College band Back On Road, which also came second in the band section.