Powder Chutes win nationwide music competition

International metal sensations Alien Weaponry have chosen Powder Chutes from Wānaka's Mount Aspiring College as the winners of a nationwide music competition that celebrates young homegrown talent.

The hard rock group caught the attention of Los Angeles-based te reo Māori metal band Alien Weaponry, who judged the inaugural AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand (AJHBNZ) Thrash More competition.

Beating fellow top-three finalists Rumpus Machine and Fan Club, Powder Chutes won a $7000 cash prize allocated to music equipment, an album release or studio recording time, with an additional $3000 going towards their chosen secondary school music department or community music facility.

With the prize funded by AJHBNZ, all three finalists also receive $1000 worth of AJHBNZ experiences.

In a statement issued by Alien Weaponry, the band said it had been hard to pick a winner, with each group having their own unique sound.

"Massive congratulations to Powder Chutes for taking out the 2023 Thrash More Fear Less competition" the statement said.

Powder Chutes band members and winners of the inaugural Thrash More competition are (from left)...
Powder Chutes band members and winners of the inaugural Thrash More competition are (from left) Archie Orbell, 18, Otis Murphy, 16, Clarke West, 18 and Henry McConnell, 18. Photo: supplied
"We were blown away by their wicked technical ability and song writing as well as their energy and passion.

"It's so awesome to see young bands come up — as we did not so long ago — and we are excited to see what the boys in Powder Chutes have in store for us in the future! Kia mau te wehi kia koutou e Powder Chutes, ka titiro mātou ki tō koutou mahi ki mua!"

The month-long Thrash More competition was open to bands and musicians aged 13-25 from any music genre. Twenty bands sent in an original music video and the first round of judging focused on musicality, performance, lyrics and an overall demonstration of ‘living fearlessly,’ saw 20 reduced to 10 finalists. The top three were then selected by public vote.

Powder Chutes comprises lead guitarist Clarke West, bassist Otis Murphy, lead vocalist Henry McConnell and drummer Archie Orbell. They are half-way through recording their self-funded debut album and plan to spend the $7000 prize on completing the album production at Studio Sublime in Kurow in the Waitaki Valley. The band has nominated the additional $3000 cash prize to go to the Mount Aspiring College music department.

West said the band were "stoked to be selected" by international music legends Alien Weaponry among such strong competition.

"It’s sick because we genuinely look up to Alien Weaponry and have been following them when we were entering Smokefree Rockquest as 10, 11-year-olds and they were winning Rockquest. We always jam out to them, it’s one of the first bands we put on. They also come from a high school in New Zealand and give us hope that there’s a pathway to breaking through to that level of success."