Big Day Out '06: Make way for the bright sparks

By Scott Kara

It's going to be a big year for the Electric Confectionaires. And playing the Big Day Out is just the start. Look at them. There's a star quality oozing from the North Shore band. And these lads, who are aged between 17 and 18, can play, too.

It's rare for a young band to have that raw passion and a hearty sense of humour already instilled in them. And it's refreshing that the Confectionaires, made up of songwriter Jaisi Sheehan (guitar/vocals), Calum Gunn (bass), Haddon Smith (keyboards/trumpet/harmonica), and Rob Fenton (drums), don't take themselves too seriously.

"I guess it's just hard to take that kind of stuff, like being on stage and playing music, seriously because it's just fun," says Sheehan.

"And I guess your personality starts to come out the longer you've been playing your instrument," says Fenton, who along with Smith has been playing since he was 9.

"Because," he continues, pointing to Sheehan, "you are a totally different person when you get on stage and your personality really comes out."

For a front person in a band, Sheehan is shy. He mostly looks down, not rudely, but coyly, when he talks.

But when he's on stage, or there's a camera round, he's a different man.

"I like to pose quite a lot," he laughs.

"Yeah, you are, you're a bit of a poser," agrees Fenton.

The quartet got together at the beginning of last year while at Takapuna Grammar - the same school last year's hot young things, the Checks, originate from.

Sheehan, Smith and Gunn also knew each other from Devonport Primary School and met Fenton, who is a year younger and still at high school, at Grammar.

A lot happened quickly last year - not only did they form the band but they won the 2005 smokefreerockquest (the annual nationwide high school band competition).

Now, they have the single, All My Love, on radio, a Big Day Out spot (Local Produce Stage, 11.45pm-12.15pm), and Dave Dobbyn's manager, Lorraine Barry, has taken them on.

That song is about the person who got the band into Jimi Hendrix, an artist who is a major influence on their music, and no doubt, Sheehan's on-stage antics.

He explains: "There was a guy called Jacob who came over from Sweden [as an exchange student] two years ago, and he was really into jamming and playing Jimi Hendrix, and that kind of stuff. So I reckon he kind of started us off with that jamming thing."

And they haven't looked back.

While there are home turf connections and musical similarities between the Checks and the Electric Confectionaires, they are quite different bands.

The Checks dress alike, whereas the Confectionaires have individual style. Fenton has a casual surfie look, then there's the tie-wearing pair, Gunn and Smith, while Sheehan is the wild-haired frontman who's the spitting image of the two main members of the Mars Volta, who also play the Big Day Out.

Plus, says Smith: "The Checks are more of a social group whereas we don't really hang out with each other [outside the band]."

"We get on real well though," says Fenton, "but maybe it's because I'm in a totally different form to the others, and they have different friends, and like we said, we came together in a music class whereas I think the Checks came together as friends."

This year the band is concentrating on getting more songs in their repertoire. Never fear, they will be releasing something soon, but when you're 17 and 18 years old, there's no hurry. See them at a venue near you, or else at the Big Day Out.

"We want to play real mean," says Fenton of the band's biggest gig so far.

"And I just hope we get a good crowd," says Smith.


WHO: The Electric Confectionaires, from the North Shore

WHEN:Big Day Out Local Produce Stage, 11.45am-12.15pm

ALSO: Playing today at Shore Sounds, Takapuna Beach Reserve, The Strand at 1pm with Lucid 3, Donald Reid, and Tadpole.

WINNERS: 2005 smokefreerockquest

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