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Troop 14 - Smokefree Rockquest Canterbury Winners 2005

Troop 14

Firstly - our thanks to the band members who met with us (others away sick or overseas). Lunch was on the menu and the smell of freshly delivered pizza filled the reception area - and there it stayed because food wasn't allowed into the interview room. So, secondly - our apologies - because we reckon cold, soggy pizza has to be one of the most unappetising food groups…

We were probably the most chilled out band at the regional finalsSitting and talking with this great band, it was really obvious how and why they won the Canterbury Regional Finals. Troop 14 talk about their energy on-stage - well, their off-stage energy and presence must be exactly the same because this interview rocked along effortlessly. They were in perfect harmony - they didn't interrupt each other and as one band member finished speaking another would immediately pick up where they left off and, to the delight of this interviewer, they even appeared to be enjoying themselves.

As a group of friends, and as a band, it’s pretty clear that Troop 14 are in complete accord, both on-stage and off.

How long have you been together?
Not long. On a personal level, we've known each other for ages and have played together, unofficially, for years but we've only just come together officially as Troop 14 in the past three or four months. We really know how each other play so I guess you could say we fit well together.
Have you entered Rockquest before?
Some of us have, yes and we've certainly learnt from the experience but that’s not what it’s about for us. We go into it mainly because we just want to have a really good time.
Being a seven piece with tenor sax and trumpet as well as keyboards, percussion and guitar, gives us a lot of energy on stage. We have really good musicians and a good sound.How did the regional heats go for you?
Perfect! Not one disaster! In fact, we were probably the most chilled out band there. We think there were about seventy bands in all and heaps of others were out back, stressing and practising but we were all pretty laid back and just waiting around for our turn. I guess this showed when we were up on stage because it was awesome. The crowd gave us a great reception and really got into it. We just loved it.
And your winning song was …
Once More. We've got to have two for the next stage of the competition - we've got the other one but it hasn't got a title for it yet (there’s a brief discussion on possible ideas here but none of them are any good). Ah … um … and Sarah’s our lead vocalist. She’s got a fantastic voice and can really belt it out - it’s kind of a cross between soul and cabaret.
What’s involved in the next round of Rockquest ?
We've got to put a fifteen-minute video together before 1 August. It’s mainly just to record our performance for the judges to look at and is more about our music and song structure rather than our stage performance. We've also got to do a concert at school and all the lead up to it - the promotional stuff, advertising and ticket sales.
How would you describe your music?
(there’s a bit of stunned silence at this point, closely followed by incredulous laughter) Whoa, that’s way too hard a question to answer. It’s so difficult to describe our sound because it’s got so many elements in it. I guess if we had to call it anything it'd be Rastafunk.
What do you think your best qualities, as a band, are?
Our energy: Uniqueness: We're chilled!
Our sax player, Jeremy, won the award for Best Jazz Player in NZ (under 21s) - oh, and he’s still in Year 10Where did the name Troop 14 come from?
It was pretty random. We went through a whole load of ideas and names before we got to Troop 14. My girlfriend and I were out shopping and we found these red jackets (see photo) which we now wear on stage - each one is personalised though. Troop came up as a name and we thought, yeah, but then we just needed a number. Seven sounded pretty goofy, it just didn't fit but Troop 14 - well, it sounded right.
What sort of performance do you give on stage?
We're eccentric both off stage and on! We just love being up there though but as a band we're a bit of mixture. Take our Sax player - he’s real mellow and pretty quiet but then he has these random outbursts. Like he'll pick up on something and just take it away and we all just shut up and go with it and then think "What was THAT??" Most of us move around a lot and we're pretty mental but we compliment each other really well. We just want to have a good time.
How often do you practise?
It’s hard to organise with so many of us but we get together at least once a week - mainly down at the School of Rock/Vision College in town. It’s a new night school concept and they offer us plenty of ‘constructive' criticism.
And other bands that have influenced you?
Fat Freddy’s Drop. Salmonella Dub. 4-Man Bob. Black Seeds
Have you got any live gigs coming up?
Our trumpet player’s overseas at the moment so no, we've got nothing planned for the immediate future
Favourite album of all time?
(and there was that stunned silence again but your interviewer persisted)
  • Black Seeds - On The Sun
  • Slade - Tower of Power
  • Dream Theatre - Six Degrees Inner Turbulence
  • Primus - Sailing The Seven Seas of Cheese

(and in his absence the rest of the band nominated Jeremy’s favourite as)

  • The Spice Girls with Viva Forever
Do you hope to stay together as a band?
Sure but we've got to be realistic with Uni and Jazz School coming up. We're just going to wait and see what happens.

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