Three years of practising has paid off for three Taupo teens whose indie-pop band A Bit Nigel took top honours at this year's Smokefree Rockquest finals.
The band was formed in 2010 by Hamish Nixon (lead vocals, guitar and synth) and Sam Marshall (vocals, bass, synth) from Taupo-nui-a-Tia College, and Manawa Veitayaki (drums and backing vocals) who commutes home from Rotorua Boys High School for band practice most weekends.
Saturday night's final at Epsom Girls Grammar was the fourth year the 17-year-old, Year 13 students had entered the competition, the third they had made it to the finals and the first time they had won a prize.
"After years of trying to crack it we finally have, it's definitely worth the practices," Nixon said.
"It was quite overwhelming - from two years of being in the national finals and walking away with nothing and then going on to win it ... we didn't really know how to react."
Solo winner Harry Parsons of Cambridge High also changed tack to catch the judges' attention this year, moving on from punk and metal to a new folk and alternative sound.
"In the beginning I was so shy I couldn't look at the crowd, but I have learned so much about music and performing through Rockquest," he said.
A Bit Nigel beat five bands around the country to take home $10,000 worth of musical gear, and Parsons beat one other soloist to win $3000 worth. Both acts won a recording and music video grant, inclusion on the NZ On Air Kiwi Hit Disc, radio promotional support, and video play on youth music channel Four.
Nixon said the band, named as a joke after the saying "Nigel no mates", were moving to Auckland next year.
Smokefree Rockquest 2013 winners
1st A Bit Nigel, Taupo-nui-a-Tia College and Rotorua Boys High School (pictured)
2nd The Moots, St Kentigern College, Western Springs College, and Westlake Boys High School
3rd SundayBest, St Peter's School Cambridge
1st Harry Parsons, Cambridge High School
2nd Khona Va'aga-Gray, McAuley High School, Auckland