‘Plenty of time’ for school band to be major players

Be Major may not have made it to the national finals yet but the band’s seven young musicians, who played at Smokefreerockquest’s Waikato regional finals last Saturday, reckon there’s plenty of time for that.

“Some of us have still got three more years (to compete),” points out Dughall Eadie, who plays lead guitar and keyboard in the Raglan Area School band.

Be Major’s made up entirely of Year 10 and 11 students, and all were still 14 or 15 years old when they performed in Hamilton at the weekend.

Other band members are Sven Seddon on bass, Jack Kirkwood on drums, his twin sister Sasha on vocals and rhythm guitar, lead singer Emily Wiki, Kate Perry on saxophone and Joel Newport on banjo.

A dozen school bands competed all up, from the 30-odd that had played in the heats the weekend before.

The local septet were proud to be not only younger than most at the Waikato regional finals but to have one of the biggest bands and – with their sax and banjo players – the most original line-up of instruments.

They all agreed they loved the experience at Clarence St Theatre on the night, with family and friends in the audience rooting for them. The atmosphere was “crazy”, they say, especially in the mosh pit.

Everyone was really supportive and congratulatory, adds Sasha.

For Kate it was a one-off experience. She’s an American exchange student  who’s in an instrumental band back home but says she’s never seen or played in a competition like Smokefreerockquest, which is now approaching its 30th year.

It’s New Zealand’s only nationwide, live, original music, youth event and aims to motivate young musicians while also encouraging Kiwis to support original New Zealand music.

Dughall, Emily and Sasha each wrote a song for the event – one of which they say was reggae, another loosely-interpreted as alt-rock and the third was a pop piece. “We don’t really have a (particular) genre,” Dughall admits.

“We like all sorts,” the others chime in. “No preferences … variety.”

Be Major has morphed from the Majestic Unicorns, which also made it through to the regional finals last year.  Five of the current line-up were also in the Majestic Unicorns.

“Our rhythm guitarist left, so our singer started playing rhythm,” Dughall explains. “Then we gained a banjo and a sax player.”

The new name came while “thinking of horrible puns”, adds Jack.

The band practise in the music room at school twice a week for three hours all up, and sometimes set up a PA system in one of the school’s courtyards for a gig.

“We get heaps of encouragement at school … so yeah, it’s pretty good,” says Dughall.

The seven-piece also plays “every so often” at the Raglan Musicians Club’s open mic nights downtown at Orca Restaurant & Bar.

With this year’s Rockquest behind them, Be Major are now “exploring” ideas for a tour of three local schools – Te Uku, Whatawhata and Te Kowhai.

Their itinerant guitar teacher, Rob Wilson – who is filling in for two terms for longtime area school music teacher Peter Skandera – says they’ll do a few covers and at the same time get their young audiences up and dancing and  maybe experimenting with the instruments.

Rob praises Be Major as both dedicated band members and well developed musicians. “They’re as good as you get,” he reckons.

Edith Symes