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August/September 2014

by Briar Lawry

Fresh Talent: Fin Rah Zel

by Briar Lawry

Fresh Talent: Fin Rah Zel

The first thing the band formerly known as Fin Raziel wants you to know is that they are Fin Rah Zel now. The table rings out with three band members mimicking the various pronunciations that they have heard in the few months that they have played together – “Fin RAZZiel””,  “Fin RaZEEL””,  “Fin Ra-zyle”.”
Rather than be forever cringing, they decided to make it phonetic.  There is also, as it turns out, a UK band called Fin Raziel – and while international name mimicry may not be something that the average fresh-faced band would worry about (they’’ve been playing together for less than a year), when you look at what Fin Rah Zel has managed to achieve in such a short time, you can understand why being a bit careful couldn’’t hurt. These guys are the real deal.
The five-piece from New Plymouth (‘Taradise’’ according to a recent tweet from the band’’s account), formed only about six months ago in order to perform at the Purple Paddocks festival. Few bands could claim their first gig was opening for P Money, but for Fin Rah Zel, that’’s where it all started.

“Music is the only thing that brought us together,”” muses bassist Joe Moon.

It was a chance encounter at an open mic night hosted by Moon that really got things started. Vocalist Brian Norton was performing, and one thing led to another.

“We got booked… and then we made the band,”” Moon briefly explains.

The remainder of Fin Rah Zel is Callum Gibbins on guitar (also a formidable rugby player), Robbie Hayles on keys, and drummer Sam Notman. Their backgrounds are as varied as their influences – from childhood instrument thrashing to self-taught strumming to studying jazz at the NZSM, and from Snoop Dogg to TrinityRoots, John Mayer to Metallica.

They excitedly describe their genre as ‘stadium soul-electro fusion’, and when asked to elaborate on how these four seemingly disparate elements tie in together, they explain it as, “a big sound, but with substance – contemporary, but with a bit of everything.”

Listening to their EP, ‘The Search for Mary Jane’’, it makes sense. Everything that they claim to be comes through in their sound, as well as the influences that they each describe. There’’s reggae, there’’s gritty rock, there’’s slick beats and solid production.

The album was recorded at Tsunami Studio in Levin, which the band members praise highly. They are also generous in their praise of the support they have received from others in the short time they’’ve played together – New Plymouth event organiser Laura Crombie is a “shadow member” of the band,” while Stacey Lamb’‘s Club 55 has been instrumental in gaining them exposure. They are a band that embraces their roots and support network while at the same time striving to create something new.

“We want to be representative of the future of NZ music, while paying tribute to the past.””