A Whangarei band that has far more experience than the age of its members would indicate has been crowned the top high school band in Northland.
Alien Weaponry, made up of members from Bream Bay College and Otamatea High School, placed second last year at the national finals of both Smokefree Rockquest and Pacifica Beats. On Friday night they took out the Northland regional title for 2016, earning them another shot at the grand prize.
The three-piece metal band - brothers Lewis de Jong (guitar/vocals, 16), Henry de Jong (drums, 14) and Ethan Trembath (bass, 14) - won in front of a crowd of 250 at Forum North.
The brothers formed the band in 2010, and were joined by Ethan two years later. Spokesman Henry de Jong said playing in front of their peers was "pretty awesome".
"Our mates from school don't get to see us play because we're usually playing in bars and they're not allowed in," he said. "We got an awesome crowd response."
Alien Weaponry have already toured nationally and supported some of the biggest names in New Zealand heavy metal.
Ethan thought the stand-out factor for the judges was the Maori element in their performance.
"Incorporating haka and te reo into metal is not common but it works really well," he said. "It's a high-energy stage show - Lewis was leaping around and it all must have helped to wow the judges."
Alien Weaponry also won the Smokefree Pacifica Beats Award on Friday.
The Monkey Assassins - Shane Richards on rhythm guitar and vocals and Buster Clark on drums - from Rodney College placed second.
The two bands win musical gear from the Rockshop and their suppliers, and now have to submit 15 minutes of their best material for selection as national finalists.
The top two solo-duos from Northland from the regional heats last week - Izaia Tilialo from Kamo High School and Huia Shortland from Te Kapehu Whetu, and Guy Yarrall from Kerikeri High School - have made it to the national finals.
Founder and director Glenn Common said the Northland finalists would have to work hard to make the most of the opportunity offered by Smokefree Rockquest.
"They have to submit video footage of their original music that will be judged in August as we lead up to the national final," he said.