They may be Twisted, but they're good.
So good in fact, that Taupō Intermediate year eight rock band Twisted is one of 16 national finalists in the Rockshop Bandquest competition.
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Rockshop Bandquest, founded by Rockquest Promotions, the company behind Smokefreerockquest and Smokefree Tangata Beats, is a live music competition for primary and intermediate-age students with the aim of teaching performance skills and the importance of teamwork.
The Waikato region competition was held in Hamilton earlier this month with two Taupō Intermediate bands competing: Year seven student band Tonic and Year eight student band Twisted. Twisted played Broken by lovelytheband and Lonely Boy by The Black Keys.
Twisted walked away with two awards on the night. Their lead vocalist Angus Putt, 13, was named best male vocalist and the band and its supporters, including the Intermediate's music teacher Jon Wood, were delighted to win the Waikato competition overall.
The next phase involved Twisted filming a live music video for Rockshop Bandquest, which judges will assess against the other 15 finalist bands from around the country before a national winner is announced on September 26. The band spent all day on Tuesday August 20 working on their video with the help of Mr Wood and the team from Taupō firm AVP.
Twisted comprises vocalists Anna Mounsey and Angus Putt, guitarists Khani Te Mete and Lucian McDermott, keyboard players and backing vocalists Paige Cameron and Sophie Webber, bass guitarist Alex Aitken and Paul Notoa on drums. They are supported by sound technicians Zach Adams and Jade Hasse.
While the band is understandably ecstatic with its success, the members worked hard for it. Since the middle of term two they have practised in their lunchtimes, early mornings, after school and even some weekends. They played until they were all tired and their fingers were sore.
""If anything went wrong, Mr Wood would make us start again," Jade says. "It was a lot of hard work."
During the endless rehearsals, the two commonest problems were the band or the singers being out of tune or out of time.
"A lot of the time the singers were off key," says Paige Cameron, who helped with vocals. "That was a big one. And Mr Wood got mad really easily - I think most of the time he was just joking - and would make us start again and again and again."
"He's strict and funny at the same time. It was all right," says Khani.
Anna says the students being poorly prepared - such as not having done their tuning before rehearsal - was also something Mr Wood did not tolerate.
The students say while Mr Wood wanted their performance to be perfect, they didn't mind having to live up to his high standards, and while they were all nervous as they waited for their performance, Mr Wood was positive. Anna says his parting words before the students took the stage for the competition were "you guys are awesome, let's go".
Out on stage the lights were bright and hot, the audience could hardly be seen and the band couldn't hear how they were doing. But they had been had taught that was normal and to trust themselves and the sound technicians, so they just went for it.
Once all 16 bands had played there was a nervous wait while the judges tallied up the scores. Mr Wood and the parents were all confident Twisted had done well, but Anna says when Taupō wasn't called in third or second place, she lost hope.
After a long pause, the judges announced "Taupō Intermediate - Twisted!" as the winners and "we all screamed". Anna says Mr Wood also shed a few tears.
The band won $400 for their school, which school principal Bill Clarke topped up with another $600 to make a nice boost for the school's music department, entry into the national final and the band members also got to keep their Twisted band T-shirts.
The band said they all wanted to thank Mr Wood, their parents and supporters. They now must wait nearly a month to hear whether they have won the national finals. The winning band will be professionally recorded.
Mr Wood said the school was very proud of both Twisted, and Year seven band Tonic, coached by teacher Rana Keeley, which also performed very well.
NZ Rockshop spokesperson Hamish Jackson says for many of the kids, entering Bandquest is the biggest musical moment of their lives.
"This programme is giving kids the opportunity to put a band together and get up on a professional stage, which gives them more than just musical skills," he said. "It develops their teamwork, leadership, communication and creative skills, all while building their confidence."