Whangarei High School band Alien Weaponry will go head-to-head with seven bands from across the country in the final of Smokefreerockquest next month.

Months of practice and creative effort has paid off for the band - a three-piece metal band comprising brothers Lewis de Jong (guitar/vocals, 16), Henry de Jong (drums, 14) and Ethan Trembath (bass, 14) - who have made it through to the top eight Smokefreerockquest bands and solo-duos in the national final in Auckland on September 24.

Alien Weaponry, made up of members from Bream Bay College and Otamatea High School, came second in last year's national final and will be hoping that efforts over the past 12 months will see them take out the national title this year.

The 700 entries in this year's only nationwide, original youth music event competed live during May and June in centres from Whangarei to Dunedin. The regional finalists sent in their video footage, and after the announcement of the top 30 last week, the final judging was yesterday. The judges were Chris Mac from Six60, 1998 Smokefreerockquest national winner Anna Coddington and Kimbra's musical director, Timon Martin. Martin said the overall standard made the task a challenge, with the judges opting for originality and character rather than just technical perfection.


"The top acts all had an originality of vision," he said. "For New Zealand music to make an impact both at home and overseas, we need to cultivate a unique identity, and the artists we picked really showed a strong sense of that, no matter the genre. For us, they represented a bright future for creativity in New Zealand music."

The national final is held at the Raye Freedman Centre at Epsom Girls' Grammar on Saturday, September 24.