30 Sep 2011
The Laon: Sebastian Warren, Hong An, Jay Arthur and Doug Stewart.
CPIT Jazz School’s The Laon took out first place at Battle of the Bands last Thursday with their ‘psychedelic blues’ version of God Defend New Zealand. The four-man band made up of guitarist Sebastian Warren, bass player Doug Stewart, drummer Jay Arthur and Hong An on the keys impressed with their technical skill and complex harmonies
The win comes as a much deserved highlight in a challenging year for the band. CPIT Jazz School was inside the cordon for over a month at the beginning of their final year in a Bachelor of Musical Arts and their guitarist moved away because of the continued aftershocks.
Despite all the chaos they stuck at what they love, attending jam sessions around Christchurch where they discovered new guitarist Sebastian Warren. Music was a welcome release from reality; in fact the band believes that the earthquake is what made The Laon. “It brought us together and gave us a focus,” Warren says.
While they were unable to attend classes they worked on original tracks for the Battle of the Bands competition, demonstrating a style influenced by Jimmy Hendrix, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin that the band calls “classic blues but really, really crazy on the guitar.” They immersed themselves in their music right down to their look, labelled “Pure Hendrix, Rock and Roll, combined with our own individual style”.
“Music is who we are,” Stewart says.
The band worked hard for the competition, practising at houses and CPIT’s Jazz School when it re-opened. Their tutors helped with technical tips and venues to practice in. The band was grateful for the support of CPIT. “We believe in what we do and so do they,” Arthur says. Jazz School was the perfect environment for the band to practice in as they were surrounded by other musicians and could collaborate.
The Laon stood out at the heats and semi-finals of Battle of the Bands but the final was extremely competitive. “You have to play to your absolute maximum and we brought in a few gimmicky things like Hong on the Keytar (a keyboard which is shaped and played like a guitar),” Arthur said. They enjoyed entertaining the crowd and gained so much more than just a win from the competition. “We learned a lot about performing live,” Warren said.
The band has big plans for the future. They are realistic but enthusiastic about their chances in the music industry and have paid close attention to their tutors’ tips on ‘making it’. They came to CPIT Jazz School to find other like-minded musicians but they have come out with so much more. “We’ve really become a part of something and we feel like we’re going somewhere now,” the band says.