Schools of rock

Dunedin high school punk band Sugarcoated Bullets.Photo: Supplied
Dunedin high school punk band Sugarcoated Bullets.Photo: Supplied
Dunedin’s high schools are pumping out more  bands than ever before, although you might not know it because most venues are also bars, and bars don’t allow high school pupils.

Luckily,  we have DIY spaces such as The Attic that will host a huge line-up of high school bands next weekend. Not only will it be a lot of fun, but it’ll be a chance for people to catch up on what has been happening on the elusive high school band scene.

The idea for the gig started with punk band Sugarcoated Bullets. They play music inspired by the likes of The Dead Kennedys with a hint of pop-punk, but are also "very quite hardcore", according to vocalist Jack Munroe.

"Especially vocals, because I don’t really know how to sing to be honest ..."

Formed mere weeks before making it to the regional finals of Smokefreerockquest, Sugarcoated Bullets has since then been part of the Amped Project, which taught the band members about  "setting up and doing gigs and recording as well", and gave the band the opportunity to play.

"We came up with this idea for a Halloween gig, and we talked to [Amped Project organiser] Dallas  about it and then got in contact with Carmina ..."

Carmina is another high school band making waves in Dunedin right now. Its poppy mix of "grungey Nirvana rocky stuff where I scream a bit" and "jazzy stuff with jazz piano and a bit more crooning" led them to win the Smokefreerockquest regional final this year.

Frontman Barney Connolly recalls the moment he got on board with the gig.

"I was just talking to Jack because we played a gig together at The Attic with some other bands that was organised by Amped Project, and then he mentioned the idea to me and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m keen for that.’

"So he organised the other bands, and then one of the other bands organised the gear, and then I was the one who went and saw the venue owner and sort of booked it out or whatever."

In total, they managed to wrangle together eight bands, all with members currently at high school.

The number of bands in the line-up that I’ve never heard before is exciting, but also a little daunting, so I asked Jack for an overview of what to expect.‘‘We’ve got a massive variation of sounds.

"You’ve got Bark like a Dog who are, like, indie rock. And then you’ve got us who are very punky, and The Rothmans. Trent’s also very poppy with like ukelele and stuff ...

"It’ll go from, like, really heavy stuff to, like, really light stuff.’’Barney filled in some of the blanks.

"There’s the Sun Animals, who are kind of like Queens of the Stone Age, like rock ’n roll riffs; really tight.

"And Do Speak Louder; they’re probably my favorite because their frontman is, like, really good at writing songs. Like, I know all the songs and the tunes. Big fan of them."

Imperium  will serve up a very tasty helping of riffy thrash metal.

According to Jack, things are good for high school bands in Dunedin right now, despite the lack of all-age venues  and it’s primarily thanks to the same relationships between bands that enabled a gig like this to happen. People are keen to play music for the love of it here.

- Fraser Thompson


The gig

The Big Gig: November 11, 6pm at The Attic, entry $2. Featuring Bark Like A Dog, The Rothmans, Carmina, Sugarcoated Bullets, Do Speak Louder, Sun Animals, Imperium and Trent Hawthorne.

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